£1 billion windfall for aristocrat from development of Cardiff urban village
An aristocrat whose land will be used to create a new urban village on the outskirts of Cardiff stands to make a £1bn windfall from the project, according to a planning expert.
Set within 900 acres of land entirely owned by the Earl of Plymouth Estate, Plasdŵr will be developed over the next 20 years, bringing up to 7,000 new homes plus shops, offices, schools, health centres, leisure centres, pubs and restaurants.
Given the current value of housing land in south east Wales it has been estimated that the 400 acres-plus of housing land within the project masterplan will gift more than £1bn to the estate, which is owned by Ivor Windsor Clive, the 4th Earl of Plymouth, based in his primary country seat Oakly Park, near Ludlow in Shropshire.
At its last filing of accounts at Companies House for the year to September 2021, the Earl of Plymouth Estate had assets of more than £18m.
Peter Fortune was senior planning officer for South Yorkshire County Council, principal planning officer for Cardiff City Council and then economic development officer for the authority. For 10 years he was the CEO at Cardiff and Vale Enterprise.
Now a business consultant, and in his spare time a campaigner with the Radyr and Morganstown Local Development Group, Mr Fortune said: “Windfall profits such as this, originating solely from the actions of the planning system raise the whole question of a development land tax. “
“Attempts were made by the UK Government in the 1970s and in Wales the Land Authority of Wales was established to try to ensure that such windfalls were allotted to the community. However, no satisfactory way has ever been agreed.
“It is to be hoped that the Plymouth Estate might be persuaded to invest some of this windfall for the benefit of the community of Cardiff. Otherwise there is a risk that all the money will leave Wales.”
Mr Fortune pointed out that the Estate is represented by land agents Cooke and Arkwright in Cardiff who state on their website: “The estate is keen to see the creation of a place that is seen as a positive legacy to its heritage in the local area – much in the same way that the Victorian seaside town of Penarth, a former planned development on land held by the Estate, is regarded today.”
The current Earl of Plymouth inherited the title in 2018.
He is descended from Robert Clive – often referred to as Clive of India – whose actions as an employee of the British East India Company have been criticised as having resulted in the plundering of Indian treasures and also in famines caused by policies disastrous to local Indian farm production.
The development of Plasdŵr has not been without controversy, with some lamenting the loss of greenfield land.
The estate also took tenant farmer Jenkin Rees, 88, to court when he refused to vacate land he had farmed for 56 years so the Plasdŵr development could go ahead. Having won a court order that Mr Rees should pay the estate’s legal costs at £10,000 per month for a year, the estate said at the time: “The ending of any tenancy can be difficult, particularly when it involves a family home. This is why over the last five years the owners have continually tried to engage Mr Rees and his family and repeatedly offered financial compensation terms, which were well beyond the legal statutory requirements.These have all been ignored or rejected by the Rees family.”
Responding to Mr Fortune’s comments, a spokeswoman for the Earl of Plymouth Estate said: “The comments made are not an accurate representation of the situation. Plasdŵr is a long-term development that, over the course of the next 20+ years, will be continually investing in the local community.
“Under our Section 106 agreement, large parts of the proceeds from land sales at Plasdŵr are being reinvested for the benefit of local communities and Cardiff as a whole. Plasdŵr is making significant contributions to improve existing and create new infrastructure as well as new community, health and leisure facilities. These contributions will be made throughout the lifetime of the development and go towards improvements to highways, new schools, subsidising new bus services, children’s play areas and pitches, allotments, healthcare facilities and new cycle and footpaths.
“In September this year, we will see the doors open to our new 420 place dual stream primary school, the first of five schools planned on the development. The school will serve not only children and their families living at Plasdŵr but also surrounding communities where school places are oversubscribed. It will also be Cardiff’s first dual-language school, with one form offering Welsh-medium education and the other offering English with significant use of Welsh.
“Community is central to Plasdŵr. As the landowners, it is important to the Earl of Plymouth Estate, as well as the wider development team, to be a good neighbour to the existing communities we border and ensure that the development of Plasdŵr brings real benefits for those communities and wider Cardiff.”
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