Sunday, 18 January 2009

Bute park saved from car park fate

CADW back car park plan - is it time to ask is CADW fit for purpose?

Historic park saved from car park fate
Jan 15 2009 by Andrew Dagnell, South Wales Echo

A PLAN to convert historic parklands in the heart of the capital into a car park is to be blocked by councillors.
Members of the city’s planning committee yesterday voted against plans by Cardiff council’s special projects department to tarmac a grassed area in Sophia Gardens next to the Welsh Institute of Sport. But they deferred a final decision until the committee’s next meeting.
The planning application aimed to create 207 parking spaces – 58 of which would be used up to 12 times a year to accommodate TV vehicles filming sports matches.

It also sought approval to remove the Grade II listed park’s multi-purpose sports tarmac as well as removal of a substantial of shrubbery. Planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval, however it was met with opposition by Councillor Gwenllian Lansdown, who said the plans were not in keeping with the park’s historic status.

She warned: “This would be the end of Sophia Gardens as we know it.
“This is a well-used sports area enjoyed by local residents and others. No plans are made to replace it therefore constituting an unacceptable loss of public open space.
“This application falls within a conservation area and the introduction of more car parking would jeopardise its status as historic parkland.”

Welsh heritage body Cadw had backed the plans, saying that the suggested changes to the park, which is within the Cathedral Road conservation area, “would be beneficial to the character of the park” and “would be an enhancement of the park’s quality and character”.

A Freedom of Information request by a homeowner living in the area has revealed that if the plans were given the go-ahead the project would be funded by Glamorgan County Cricket Club.
However, this was blasted by Councillor Richard Foley who said he felt the plans were being allowed to pass through the backdoor. He said: “I abhor Cadw’s response. I find this application extremely uncomfortable, and we would not permit it if it was an external application.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cathedral Road resident Greg Butterworth, 40, said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the win – it’s a massive success for us over the council and the cricket club.
“The plan would have destroyed the surrounding environment and the area that we live in.”

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