Decision due on new east Cardiff train station and business park
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
A decision is due on giving the green light for a new train station and business park in east Cardiff.
Developers are planning to build a four-platform station, called Cardiff Parkway, on farmland in St Mellons.
The new train station would mean journey times into the city centre massively cut, with services taking just seven minutes into Cardiff Central.
Cardiff council’s planning committee could grant permission for the £120 million development on Wednesday, April 6.
The train station would be built privately, by father-and-son team Nigel and Andrew Roberts, under the name Cardiff Parkway Developments Ltd, with backing from the Welsh Government and Investec, a financial services company. 90,000 square metres of commercial development would also be built, called Hendre Lakes business district.
Nigel Roberts previously said: “This unique development will bring investment to an area that has long suffered from underinvestment, create new employment opportunities, and better connect people in this region of south-east Wales. We are aiming to deliver convenient and quick services, with a high-quality customer experience, particularly for public transport and active travel, to encourage sustainable transport to become the obvious choice.”
Cardiff Parkway would mean a huge upgrade to public transport in the east of the city, which currently doesn’t have a train station, as bus services can take up to an hour from St Mellons into Cardiff Central. Train services would also connect with Newport station in seven minutes, and could link up in future with the proposed Cardiff Crossrail line through the city.
Developers estimate that the business park would create space for 6,000 jobs, and the train station could serve 800,000 passengers each year. Local cycling routes would be upgraded, including access to the National Cycle Route 88 which runs to Newport, and 650 car parking spaces would also be included in the development.
Public objections made against the planning application include concerns about the business park element and the environmental impact of building on the farmland. The 80-hectare site is on the western edge of the Gwent Levels, but suffers from poor maintenance and frequent fly-tipping, while the developers plan to “enhance” the ecology there and maintain the reens.
The Gwent Levels is an area ecologically important between Cardiff and Newport, criss-crossed by a network of running waterways called reens, home to a large number of birds and other wildlife. Plans for an M4 relief road, running south of Newport, were partly turned down due to their impact on the Levels.
But in planning documents, developers said this ecology would be upgraded with the reen network kept, a new park created, wildlife corridors, and several walking and cycling links. Creating new train services could also mean fewer people driving and more taking public transport, with a benefit to the local environment from less pollution and carbon emissions.
Many local residents wrote to the council’s planning department with their views on the application, during a public consultation last year, with 44 objecting and 23 supporting the development.
Objecting to the plans, Jay Smith said: “There is a lack of need for additional office space, especially since the shift to working from that the pandemic has brought. Several office spaces in the area are unoccupied. Office blocks of the proposed height would be out of character and not in keeping with the area.
“Views to the channel would undoubtedly be obscured by such a development. While I think the area does need improved transport links, and a train station would be a good way to achieve this, I strongly object to the rest of the proposed development.”
Supporting the plans, Kevin Partington said: “Great care has been taken in the proposal to make the natural heritage of the site integral to the overall design, and it could be a real focal point for St Mellons, creating a sense of community the area has always lacked. Working patterns will become more flexible, but office space will always be needed.
“The eastern side of the city is currently not on the rail network, an unacceptable state of affairs for a capital city in the 21st century. The absence of a rail station has made commuting a misery on a grid-locked Newport Road for far too long. The location of Hendre Lakes with its proximity to the M4 means it is ideally situated for a park and ride station.”
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