Saturday, 29 November 2008

Big wigs in cardiff run scared of facing the public!

Berman is right about the date - Glamorgan Building (Committee Room 1) for 5pm on 12 December for the Bute Park Debate. Councillor Nigel Howells not available either but this is urgent -

Lets hope we can find a senior Cardiff Council lib dem who is free! And someone from the HLF!
Jennifer Stewart

Jennifer doesn't want to attend a public meeting - She says 'To be honest I don't think there would be much more to add to our public statement: - as you know, we are not funding the new access bridge, we are funding the restoration of the historic park. And, as a funder, we have no role, nor locus, in the planning process. These are rather brief, boring messages for the audience! And the real debate will centre on other issues, not our funding.'

But she seems to have forgotten that she wrote to me saying HLF did tell the council that the
"success of the HLF project will depend on the success of the new access bridge, and in particular the acceptance of the bridge by all users of the Park including local residents and community groups"

email from jennifer stuart to me
Dear Ms. ...
Thank you for your communication of 19th October outlining your concerns about the proposed new bridge at Bute Park. Although the Heritage Lottery Fund has made a substantial award to Bute Park for the restoration of the historic park, the design, planning and construction of the new access bridge does not form part of this award. However we are conscious that the success of the HLF project will depend on the success of the new access bridge, and in particular the acceptance of the bridge by all users of the Park including local residents and community groups. For this reason we have asked the Council to demonstrate the involvement of users both in the design and long-term maintenance of the bridge. We are forwarding a copy of your email to Pat Thomson who is responsible for the project on behalf of the Council, for a more detailed response.
Thank you again for your interest in the work of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Yours Sincerely Jennifer Stewart
Pennaeth CDL, Cymru/Head of HLF, Wales-----Original Message-----
Llinell uniongyrchol/direct line 029 2023 4144,

From: Berman, Rodney (Cllr)
Sent: Sat, 29 Nov 2008 9:40
Subject: RE: private eye and Bute Park

I have already explained to Professor Morgan that Councillor Nigel Howells would be much better placed than me to participate in the debate on behalf of the Council as the Executive Member responsible for parks.
I have also explained that he is already committed to being out of the country on 12 December (which was the date given to me by Professor Morgan, not 10 December) and that I would also not be available on that date as I am committed to being in mid-Wales.
However, I have made it clear to Professor Morgan that Nigel Howells would be more than happy to participate in the debate if it was possible to rearrange the date and have suggested to Professor Morgan that he liases with Nigel Howells directly.
I trust this clarifies the matter.
Yours sincerely,
Rodney Berman
Leader of Cardiff Council

Friday, 28 November 2008

suspicion is that Cardiff council to privatise nurseries in Bute Park

Private Eye

Even in these difficult times, it seems, money can still be found to spoil things unnecessarily: in this case Bute Park, a much loved oasis in the centre of Cardiff....Bute Park is listed as grade 1 by the Welsh historic building and environment agency, CADW, on the Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest . Not that such an accolade seems able to protect it. ...

Monday, 17 November 2008

Cardiff is a 'pigs ear'

I am writing in response to Kevin Morgan's outcry against the city fathers over encroachment into Bute Park. I am in total agreement with him about this and will support any fight he is willing to lead on it. In fact I don't think they are just making a mess of Bute Park. The Bay, with all its new and wonderful architecture is an absolute mess - no cohesion in the layout or design of the buildings, nor in the infrastructure around it. The station is another pig's ear, with no access for pick ups and drop offs (which I would have thought essential at a station). And the city centre is a mess too with pavements jutting out into St. Mary Street in an incoherent fashion. It's nice there for pedestrians now, but not a thought for the visual design of the street. So ... I think Bute Park is a good place to start.

Outrage at Bute Park destruction

Freiends of Bute park wrote to the council - 14 October 2008 Dear Julian Stedman

I write to protest most vehemently at the proposal to build an access road and bridge for large lorries to enter Bute Park. This proposal will destroy and change forever a large number of mature trees and a significant proportion of a truly magnificent park.

Cardiff has one of the largest inner city urban parks in Europe - I'm absolutely outraged that yet again an elected body is proposing to eat into and defile a precious and outstandingly beautiful space for short term convenience. It appears that the council has already begun preparations to enact the proposal without, as far as I'm aware, properly publicising and consulting it's constituency. Everybody who visits Cardiff, and we work with people from all over the world, remark on how lucky and privileged we are in Cardiff to have such an incredibly wonderful and universally accessible space at the very centre of our city. It is comparable to the Wansee in Berlin the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and Central Park New York in it's beauty and usage.

At a time when we are all being told by government, environmentalists and ecologists that the threat of global warming is the main threat facing all of us, and the safeguarding of the environment is crucially important to everybody, our council seems to be intent on destroying mature trees and introducing an invasive and polluting highway to a tranquil and exquisitely delicate space. Cardiff is full of misconceived, wasteful highway "innovations" and "solutions" which appear to have been introduced by amateur and environmentally illiterate administrators. This council wastes millions each year on short term, ill conceived traffic plans which cause havoc to everybody without achieving any real solutions to the problems of traffic pollution or flow. There are no electric trams or hybrid buses anywhere, no proper provision for bicycles or really effective pedestrianisation of city centre streets. The introduction of noisy, polluting and incredibly dangerous "bendy buses" has been a disaster of epic proportions. The Bute Park proposal will add to a growing list of serious environmental and highway incompetence's.

The administration should be forced to spend some public money visiting our twin city Stuttgart to see what a proper integrated transport system looks like. In comparison Cardiff is third rate and backward.

Bute Park, Pontcanna Fields and the rest of the river parks are brilliant examples of utilised inner city public spaces - superbly accessible to everybody, young and old, infirm and athletic. They are precious resources to be protected and guarded by those who purport to represent us as responsible and intelligent politicians.

It will be your eternal shame if you violate the trust the people place in you go ahead with this madness. You should be setting a supreme example to us all not indulging in environmental hooliganism at such a crucially important time as this.

As a company involved in advertising and filmmaking we will do our utmost to make sure that this issue is publicised as widely as possible in an effort to stop this violation and erosion of a wonderful public resource.
Les Mills

Beryl Productions International Ltd
Chapter • Market RoadCantonCardiffWalesUK • CF5 1QE
Studio Tel/Fax: 44 (0)29 20 226 225 • Office Tel & Fax: 44 (0) 29 20 666 418
Studio Email: • Office Email:

Company Directors: Les Mills & Joanna Quinn

Thursday, 13 November 2008

School of regional planning Kevin Morgan slams Bute Park Scheme

Professor denounces Bute Park road access scheme - WalesOnline13 Nov 2008 ... Kevin Morgan, a professor in the school of City and Regional ... Bute Park was landscaped in the late 18th century by Capability Brown and ... Nov 13 2008 by Martin Shipton, South Wales Echo

ONE of Wales’ leading academics has passionately denounced a scheme to build a new road access for lorries into Bute Park in Cardiff.

Kevin Morgan, a professor in the school of City and Regional Planning at Cardiff University, believes the scheme amounts to a desecration of one of the city’s greatest assets.

The scheme was passed by councillors on October 15 after they were told that articulated lorries needed to deliver plants to a centre inside the park.

More than 1,000 residents objected to the scheme, which will also make it easier for big events to be staged in the park.

Bute Park was landscaped in the late 18th century by Capability Brown and had alterations in the late 19th century by the third Marquess of Bute. In 1947, the fourth Marquess of Bute presented the park to Cardiff council. It has grade one listed status.

A road bridge costing £1.4m is due to be built at the North Gate, with a new road access. One rare tree is due to be felled and the council acknowledges that a tranquil part of the park will be disturbed. But it maintains the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

A spokeswoman for Cardiff council said: “A permission for development notice in this case was issued on October 17. The only way this scheme will not proceed is if there is a judicial review on legal grounds or if the council revokes the consent, which is highly unlikely.”

What Professor Morgan says about the development:

I AM furious about this. I find it astonishing that the council, which is supposed to safeguard the interests of Cardiff, could be so arrogant and foolish as to go ahead with such a scheme.

I am trying to organise a debate here in the university about this. It’s a big issue. Cardiff likes to project itself as one of the leading cities in Britain in terms of sustainability, husbanding its resources, and caring for the well-being of its citizens. To build a road into Bute Park, Cardiff’s greatest asset, to facilitate the entry of articulated lorries is the complete antithesis of that philosophy.

Old ways of measuring cities like GDP and population size are from another century. Nowadays, people think in terms of quality of life, and having green spaces is an absolutely vital element of that. Yet there are still those in senior positions who think solely in terms of the commercial elements of a city. Not long ago a planning director came to give a talk at the university. He never once mentioned sustainability.

But in terms of making a city attractive and a desirable place to be, you can’t trump Mother Nature. All right, with urban parks like Bute Park you are talking about cultivated nature, but what we have in Cardiff is a great asset to be nurtured, not something to be jettisoned or messed with.

We get a lot of students from overseas in the department, mainly from China and India. Every year I ask them at the end of their time here what are the best and the worst things about Cardiff. Every year, they speak very positively about our urban parks, by which they mainly mean Bute Park. It’s the number one comment they make. They greatly appreciate it as a place of tranquillity, where they can get away from the busy life of the city streets.

We are told that building the road will make it easier for big events to be organised in the park. It seems the park is being seen primarily as a venue for visitor attractions. But the main point of Bute Park is its value in the lives of the people of Cardiff. If visitors appreciate it too, that’s fine, but it mustn’t become simply a tourist attraction. Every encroachment on to the park is a blow to the quality of life of the people who live here. It is astonishing that the guardians of our civic heritage could even contemplate doing what they have done.

I don’t think the councillors who decided to approve this scheme have thought the matter through properly at all. I know that planning permission has been granted, but I would like them to think again. I intend to invite the council cabinet member responsible, Nigel Howells, to take part in a public debate. So far as I’m concerned, this isn’t over yet. It won’t be over until it’s over.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Questions on Bute Park Road project

Here is a copy of the letter containing a number of questions that remain unanswered that I sent to Pat Thompson who is the project lead for the Bute Park lorry road and bridge.

Dear Mr Thompson,

Thank you for meeting us last Monday.

We have obtained the Green Spaces & Parks Strategy and are giving it further consideration.

In the meantime could you supply details as discussed at our meeting:

Removal of trees early in Spring.
Apart from the diseased beech, you said another tree (or two) was taken down by the boundary fence, indicating the north end of gap. Was this from your own inspection or would you please supply a record of this tree or trees taken down by the Parks Dept?

Unmapped champion oaks

Have you checked the two major oaks to the NE of the Nursery missing from your chart? Does this not reflect on the reliability of the remaining mapping of trees

You promised to let us see the covenant(s) on Bute Park

Memorial trees and plaques:
what agreement was there by the Council and payments accepted for erecting these? And were the people involved notified by the Parks Dept. of the scheme?

Lorries in the Park at present
How many lorry movements through on average (50-100 per week in a press report) and how many of these are concerned with the Nursery plant business (of 700 000 plants per year)?
How many are large lorries – was the figure of 36 per year stated at Committee the number of artic lorries?

"Ensuring that all new developments or changes in the service are properly assessed for sustainability prior to implementation."
You said the basis for the scheme is in the Park & Green Space Strategy; can you provide a document showing how the balance of positives and negatives in that Strategy were assessed?

You mention improving site use and increasing income generation, but in the Strategy there are also eg.
11) To adapt operations to reduce their impact on the environment.
12) To adopt appropriate and innovative ways of working to respond to climate change and improve environmental quality in parks and green spaces.

Decision to allow the largest lorries in the Park

You accepted this is a decision for the Parks service and referred to the Park & Green Space Strategy, which requires you to maintain and improve environmental quality, and to conserve and improve local heritage assets. So doesn’t any past practice to allow occasional over 30-tonne and artic lorries need to be assessed on this Strategy?

Assessment following the Aboriculture report
As this shows that 43 trees will have to be lopped and raised roadways will have to be constructed, will you be reassessing the project under the Park & Green Space Strategy in the light of these significant impacts?

Safety of the Lorry Road design (4m wide, 36” high, grassed 1 in 5 slopes)
You accepted that lorries passing pedestrians, wheelchairs etc. on these roadways might be intimidating and problematic. How do you propose to address this problem – does it come under the Strategy’s “involve the public.. in partnership to manage parks and green spaces”?

Friday, 7 November 2008

Green areas cut health gap between rich and poor

Life near a city park can be as healthy as out in the country ...
"Populations that are exposed to the greenest environments have the lowest levels of health inequality related to income deprivation," they said.
...environments that promote good health might be crucial in the fight to reduce health inequalities."
So lets keep the articulated lorries out of our park and say no to road building in the park! Simple!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Nature not Roads in Bute Park

I understand that the HLF believes that the success of the project will depend on the success of the new access bridge. However I can not accept that as there is a glaring lack of environmental and sustainability concerns and a focus on improving site use and increasing income generation.

It is unlikely the bridge will be welcomed by users of the Park. Already people including Friends of the Earth, cyclists groups, living streets, the Green party, The Welsh Historic Garden Trust are horrified at the proposals.

Not only horror at the bridge but also as it leads on to raised Lorry Roadways, 8 metres wide, pretending to be Paths in our Park and very many trees will be damaged or ‘crowned’ to allow lorries to pass.

I attended a meeting along with Max Wallis on the 2nd Nov 08 with Pat Thompson and John Maidment (part of time)

Pat Thompson Parks, Commercial Development Manager and project leader Bute Park Road or the facilitator he claims. Managed the St Davids 2 project, now in charge of the city centre/Central Square and St Mary Street project.

Castle and Parks are joined together. Parks have to raise adequate investment to protect the asset (Bute Park, Castle etc.) Economic stability, working on environmental project Limited resources from WAG for statutory and non statutory functions. Parks are non statutory except to provide allotment land.

Cardiff has a duty of care - self sustaining - they have 1600 hectares and 300 parks in total to manage.”

He goes on “The management position is based on the Parks and Green spaces strategy 2007” although he didn’t have a copy to hand.

Pat Thompson Parks Commercial Development Manager, focus is on improving site use and increasing income generation while ignoring the sustainability and the environmental focus of the actual policy.

The parks and green spaces strategy calls for “Ensuring that all new developments or changes in the service are properly assessed for sustainability prior to implementation.” And “ ensure that all new development in parks is designed for maximum energy efficiency and minimum resource wastage.”

Have a look at the policy below (1). Have the parks department and the project team adhered to it?

Pat Thompson Parks Commercial Development Manager tells us that money from the car park in Sophia Gardens pays for grass cutting. Income comes into parks. The ethos is protection –

Pat Thompson insisted that the initial work undertaken by the council was to remove one diseased tree. He claimed the soil was banked up to provide a bed for the tree to fall on. Another tree (or two) taken down by the boundary fence (north end of gap, he indicated). Failed to answer which way it was intended to transport the trunk away (have dropped the claim that the boundary gap was to haul the trunk out).

Pat Thompson Commercial Development Manager said the drilling equipment was used for site investigation.

Bute Park restoration project dates from 2002. It is not commercial as it is run by the council. Planning for nursery is independent of the planning for the bridge.

Said they had a leading expert to assess the trees and advise.
(Planning report says: “an independently commissioned arboriculture
development statement … proposes a number of recommendations regarding root protection and canopy reduction works to facilitate the development.
• 43 trees would require works to canopy/crown
• 2 trees are considered capable of relocation as part of the proposed
landscaping proposals.

In areas where the arboricultural report has indicated potential damage to tree
root structures which may be caused by the weight and wheel overrun of
heavy vehicles, the paths would be upgraded using a ‘no dig’ foundation
technique whereby the surface level of the existing paths would be re-laid and
raised by a maximum of some 350-400mm using a ‘cell webb’ construction
and would have reinforced grass buffers (cell webb and Amsterdam tree soil
with top soil and turf over) to either side, feathered down to the existing
surrounding land level.”

Unable to explain the omission of two ‘champion’ mature oak trees and others to the NE of the Nursery from the map in the publicity material – grounds for mistrust by friends of Bute Park.

I hope that HLF will ask about this?

What about the people who paid for memorial trees and a plaque for loved ones in a tranquil area of the park? Have they been contacted or their views sought?

Cllr Simon Wakefield asked if there shouldn’t be a size limit on lorries going through the park and what did Pat Thompson say to that? He looked surprised and said it “the size of lorries using Bute Park was never a consideration” The parks department can restrict size if they want to. Pat Thompson, commercial development manager, said this wasn’t for him to consider.

They said the remit was to plan for the largest size of lorry accessing the Nursery and for lopping to protect the trees from these lorries. They could not say how that decision was made, referred us to the Parks and green spaces strategy but I can't find any mention of expanding the Nursery operations with more/bigger lorries in that.

On the basis of the vehicles using the park the parks produced a brief. We asked to see this and a copy of the covenant. We hope they might send it to the HLF and us.

The road through the park to take articulated lorries is 40cms high, above previous path, to protect trees! This is a special system designed to protect the tree roots although this means that the articulated lorries will damage the trees so they are to be ‘crowned’ their lower branches taken off as if they where in city street not a park.

The raised road has a slope at each side of 1 in 5. We are concerned about the safety of wheelchairs and pushchairs getting out of the way for articulated lorries.

Pat Thompson, commercial development manager, said that another path along feeder was being considered to make pedestrians safer. The new road being potentially dangerous!

He didn't deny the number of 50 - 100 vehicles per week average. The number of vehicles will increase with the new education centre and events.

Covenant – said the Covenant applied south of the line of Corbett Rd and agreed to let us have a copy. Didn’t know whether it prevented commercial trading (ice cream) for which the Council charges.

Lorry Roadways pretending to be Paths in our Park

The planning proposal was for a new access gate and bridge. As the Planning Committee report states, it does not cover the design of roadways and safety within the Park.

"10.6 There no longer remains any overt technical/professional objection to the proposal, but the degree of public opposition to the scheme cannot be ignored and appeals to the Council to consider alternative methods of managing access to the park are noted, however the local planning authority ultimately has to decide the proposal placed before it."

The officers' recommendation covers only the access and bridge, not roadways and vehicles in the Park. Yet most public opposition was to opening up the Park to lorries, especially the large lorries.

The Council's promotional brochure talks not of roadways but of "paths… widened to 4m to accommodate larger vehicles", and does not talk of strengthening to carry 40-tonne artics. The actual design for roadway - to avoid damaging tree roots - would build 4m roadways raised by 350-400mm above the present paths, with 2m tapered ramps on either side (1 in 5 slopes).

Few people will feel comfortable with lorries passing that close with no kerbed pavement. Working on 1 metre minimum clearance, cyclists and wheelchairs will divert onto the grassed slope - and wheelchairs will have difficulty in getting back up.

Thus the 4m design is ill-conceived; too narrow to give clearance from 2.5m wide lorries and wide enough to encourage 1.8 metre cars (the majority) to pass by driving on the sloping verge. The whole idea of park users sharing a "path" with lorries should be rejected -
and lorries that are not very occasional or for special events, but 50 to 100 per week. Lorry roadways must be separate from pedestrian paths.

I hope that HLF will raise our concerns with the council and also consider carefully the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust questions about the suitability of a listed park as a venue for more events and an expanding nursery business which relies on articulated lorries. I notice that the council website has no information on the HLF project – or feeder bridge project.

It is quite clear that the present scheme could not accord with what HLF would require for a Grade 1 listed historic landscape.