Saturday, December 02, 2006

Intelligent design needed in Cardiff!

Brownfield is a loose term used to describe land which has already been developed, as opposed to green field sites, which have not. Unfortunately residential gardens also qualify as brownfield sites. Increasingly speculators are being allowed by councils such as Cardiff County Council to use this loophole in areas where house prices are high such as Cardiff North and buying up property which are advertised encouragingly as on ‘ a large plot’ proceed to knock it down and build two or more. Pressure is also used to persuade home owners even 3 at a time to sell up so the land can be used for building. This should be stopped or at least strictly regulated as it is overdevelopment, leads to more land being concreted over adding to flash flooding, adds to congestion and completely alters the character of a neighbourhood.

Genuine brownfield sites are being developed in city areas with no regard to traffic congestion which already almost gridlocks Cardiff particularly on Caerphilly Road. About 600 homes have been developed to a FAR FROM ‘liveable’ design which means for example that there are no cycle lanes or consideration of pedestrians or children resulting in streets of fear trapping people in their homes. All is excused because planning was granted x number of years ago and we are as a community expected to tolerate this nonsense.

The Eddington Transport Study misses the opportunity to point out the obvious that we must put the car at the bottom of the hierarchy of road users. The biggest barrier is that transport decision makers believe that this is what people want when actually the majority want greater investment in more environmentally friendly modes of transport. The same applies to planning.

Western Power Distribution proposed to build 326 houses around the reservoir which they decided to reduce in size. The Llanishen Reservoir Action Group have fought hard for five years against the proposal and after the Council failed to decide on the proposal within their eight -week statutory period it was referred to a public enquiry. Western power actually hired people to pose as ‘park type wardens’ and went into local primary schools to persuade them that the plans would benefit the community! They came back with an amended second proposal but they say if they don’t get permission to build 246 houses on the Llanishen site they will drain the huge reservoir dry, stop all access and tear down the sailing centre. In an email to Cardiff Council, Western Power says the move would be to “minimise our costs and risks”. Ted Thurgood of the Action group said " it is important that we save some of the green areas left in our beautiful city that our forefathers fought so hard to keep." Yes indeed, but why is it so difficult –in spite of the grand words - so much for policies and practice that in reality aren’t what any community wants.