Here’s an opportunity to show the council the value of our stretch of the Taff River Corridor.
Cardiff & Newport are taking part in this year’s City Nature Challenge, which starts on 30th April 2021. This is a great opportunity for us to capture the birds, animals, insects and plants that inhabit the threatened woods and meadow near Danescourt and record them in this international initiative that is being supported by Cardiff Council. More details on how to join in can be found here:
On 18th March I wrote to Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government, asking some detailed questions about clause 1.34 of Planning Policy Wales, and how it relates to this planning application. The government’s planning directorate has decided to consider my questions as a call-in request. The result is that the government has issued a “Holding Direction” to Cardiff Council, preventing them from issuing a planning decision until the call-in process is concluded (though they can still consider the application or refuse consent).
In some special circumstances, where a planning application raises issues of more than local importance, Ministers can “call in” a planning application and effectively take over the decision from the local planning authority. You can read more about the process here. A decision will now be taken to determine whether these special circumstances apply to this planning application. If they do, the Minister will take over the decision from Cardiff Council. If they don’t, the normal planning process will continue, and my original enquiry about clause 1.34 of Planning Policy Wales will still be relevant. I’ll provide updates here as soon as I have further news.
An ENDS investigation has located hundreds of buried landfills containing hazardous waste across England and Wales. Radyr Quarry is among them, identified in the Report as containing hazardous waste, details of which are lost. Concerns have been repeatedly raised by Councillor Sean Driscoll and many other objectors to the development. Yet those proposing to build houses on and adjacent to the site of the former quarry have ignored the concerns. Here’s a link to the report’s map of landfills containing hazardous waste:
From 6th April Welsh Water will be conducting a ground investigation in the woods between De Braose Close and the railway. All local residents have been informed, and both Welsh Water and Cardiff Council have made it clear that this investigation has nothing to do with the application to build the road and houses in these woods and neighbouring meadows.
The ground investigations have been triggered by the need to design new construction work on the main sewer network to accommodate the Plas Dwr development. The investigation will take about four weeks, but sadly involves removing the ash tree right at the end of De Braose Close, and constructing a temporary stone track through the woods. The ash tree, which is suffering already from ash dieback is the only tree that will be removed, though they will need to trim back branches along the access route for safety reasons. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the construction work itself will commence in spring 2022. Welsh Water plan to leave the stone access track in place for the duration.
We understand that there will be a barrier at the end of De Braose Close to prevent unauthorised vehicular access to the woods. You can view the letter I received from Welsh Water below:
An interesting article here in WalesOnline. It seems the population growth estimates that led to the drive to build 40,000 new houses in Cardiff have been revised to less than a quarter of the original number.
Although the time for submiting objections to the revised plans has officially ended, the Leader of Cardiff Council, Councillor Huw Thomas, has confirmed that representations can be made right up to the point that the case is discussed by the Planning Committee.
The portal is no longer open for individuals to register their comments, so we suggest that you send an email or letter to the planning officers directly. You should include your name and address and the reference number of the case. This information will be made public on the portal.
Following recent press coverage, I wrote to the Future Generations Commissioner. The response I received makes it clear that it is down to the local planning authority to apply its policy, and the Commissioner is not empowered to intervene. You can see the letter from her department in full here:
Although this might be somewhat dissapointing, I was also sent a copy of a letter sent by the Welsh Government’s Chief Planner, Neil Hemington, to local planning authorities in Wales in October 2019. It notes that the protection and enhancement of nature and biodiversity is a material consideration for every planning application. The Commissioner’s office states that
“any planning decision should clearly set out how this has been considered and this may be judicially reviewed”.
The Chief Planner’s letter states that:
“where biodiversity enhancement is not proposed as part of an application, significant weight will be given to its absence, and unless other significant material considerations indicate otherwise it will be necessary to refuse permission”.
It couldn’t be more relevant to our threatened green space. How lucky we are that Danescourt already has exactly the kind of green open space that so many lack. And how ironic that the council is seriously considering a proposal to destroy it, in contradiction of its own policies, which have turned out to be more relevent to everybody than many might have imagined.
Perhaps we should all write to the Commissioner and ask her to look into this case? You can contact her here.
The developers have updated their plans and Cardiff Council has invited the local community to comment. But, given the necessary restrictions of lockdown, this is clearly not an inclusive consultation. We cannot meet together with our councillors to learn and discuss the new plans. We have a petition, but only a digital one, that requires signatories to be familiar with modern internet technology. We can only reach people by email, web and social media and a handful of public posters. We are not able to distribute leaflets to affected homes. In short, this process excludes, and discriminates against, a large section of the local community.
Our councillors, Philippa Hill John and Sean Driscoll, have highlighted their concerns about the unfair process that we are being forced to follow in a letter to the Leader of Cardiff Council. They have suggested that the consultation should be postponed “until such time as all residents have an equal opportunity to make their representation, having full access to all the means available to them to do so.”
We will let you know when they receive a response. Read their letter in full here:
The council have given a deadline of 15th March for comments on the revised planning proposal. Even if you previously sent in an objection, or signed either of the two petitions, please also send a new objection to the Council. Each one counts, and has to be reported to the Planning Committee before they reach their decision.
A personal, individual objection is best, but if you are looking for inspiration or want a shortcut, our facebook page has a Word draft ready for you to download. Just add your name and address (an anonymous objection will be ignored), and send it, either by email, post or by submitting it via the portal.
Remember, there is no appeal process – the decision of the Planning Committee is final, so it is our only chance to stop the development.