Pressure groups join forces to demand greater public inclusion in council decision-making
In the wake of catastrophic decisions relating to green space, community institutions and historic buildings, Reclaim Cardiff, Cardiff Civic Society and Save the Northern Meadows have joined forces to demand that Cardiff Council listen to the voice of the people.
A symbolic walk by campaigners to join the dots, from the Northern Meadows to Flaxland Woods, the Roath Park pub, Guildford Crescent and Britannia Park, on Saturday November 14, launched the campaign, and highlighted the fact that these assaults on green space, and much-loved local buildings should be seen as part of the local authority’s game plan, and not taken in isolation.
Scores of people have already signed up to the movement to reclaim their city.
Tree felling at Suffolk House and the demolishing of The Rise to facilitate developers’ needs, enclosing open space at Sanatorium Park despite the wishes of local residents, the threat to the green heart of Whitchurch from an already outdated hospital project, the closing of a community space in Butetown, the threat to Britannia Park from the hugely unpopular Museum of Military Medicine, meadow loss at Caedelyn Park, the destruction of Sophia Gardens due to an unnecessary cycle superhighway, and loss of heritage buildings that serve the community, the latest of which could be the Roath Park public house – have all saddened and infuriated Cardiff’s residents.
The groups’ demands to help rebalance the system are:
*Support communities to challenge the unfair power of developers. Give communities a real voice in the planning process and make community objections a legally binding reason for rejecting developments.
*Create a Cardiff land fund allowing communities to purchase local heritage or green sites – as Scotland has already done.
*Reject planning applications to build on sites of importance to biodiversity and public wellbeing. Cardiff Council needs to abide by The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and abide by its statutory obligations to protect and enhance biodiversity under Section 6 of the Environment Wales (2016) Act.
*Give councillors a free vote to choose an independent Chair of the Planning Committee
Huw Williams, of Reclaim Cardiff, says,
“Our city and its character is being obliterated with developers being given free rein to destroy green space, demolish landmark local buildings and undermine communities – despite strenuous objections from the people. The vibrant soul of Cardiff is being eroded, and it has to be stopped before the place is nothing more than a faceless agglomeration of buildings that serve only the few. A democratic city would reflect the needs and desires of all the people of Cardiff, regardless of class, race or gender, and all our communities – not the greed of developers and the neglect of the council. We encourage all those who’ve had enough to join us in saying hands off our city.”
Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, chair of Cardiff Civic Society adds,
“Cardiff Council has a disastrous environmental record, and has failed to grasp the need to protect informal green space for the benefit of the natural and human world. It has also manifestly failed to grasp that there is a biodiversity crisis taking place alongside the climate crisis, and both issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Green space, and green infrastructure is being destroyed at an alarming rate throughout Cardiff, and the local authority’s stubborn refusal to accommodate the wishes of the public as they defend these places is unforgivable.”
Tessa Marshall, one of the founding members of the Save the Northern Meadows Group, says.
‘Our irreplaceable green spaces benefit the health and wellbeing of the people of Cardiff immeasurably. This is something the Victorians understood and integrated into the architectural design of Whitchurch Hospital. Yet modern leaders seem to have forgotten the benefits of clean air and green spaces for their citizens. As a result, we have taken collaborative action to demonstrate how saving the meadows and green spaces will improve the health of our communities, protecting our wellbeing and ensuring longevity. We hope our actions encourage CCC to set the precedent and reject building on the meadows, taking the necessary action to maintain and enhance the crucial remaining biodiverse, green spaces across our city.’
Those who completed the 10-mile trek across the city were greeted by the Friends of Britannia Park, including Ossie Wheatley, the former Glamorgan captain, who gave a telling speech that brought into stark relief the machinations of the council and their neglect of Cardiff’s citizens in their approach to planning – a fitting end to a day of action that demonstrated the patience of the people of Cardiff is wearing thin.
For further information see the Reclaim Cardiff facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/reclaimcardiff
Please contact via facebook, twitter (@ReclaimCardiff) or Huw Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org