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Demolition of Guildford Crescent officially Cardiff’s most controversial planning decision

24 Feb 2021 3 minutes Read
Guildford Crescent in 2019

The demolition of Guildford Crescent was officially Cardiff’s most controversial planning decision of the last decade, figures seen by Nation.Cymru show.

Some 691 people wrote to Cardiff Council over the decision to flatten part of the street which was home to the Gwdihŵ music venue as well as two popular restaurants. Just one was in favour.

That’s over 200 responses more than were received by the council over the second most contentious planning application concerning a development on the city’s Northern Meadows.

The rankings were revealed through a freedom of information request to Cardiff Council for the ten planning applications which attracted the highest number of objections since 2010.

They come just a day after London-based property developers, Galliford Try, filed plans to build a 29-storey apartment block on the empty space left on Guildford Crescent.

The news sparked a fresh wave of anger over the demolition. “It looks like more of Cardiff’s heritage could be trashed,” wrote Liberal Democrat councillor Rodney Berman.

On top of official objections, more than 20,000 people signed a petition calling on Cardiff Council to save the street and a demonstration against the demolition attracted over 1,000 people.

‘Irreparable damage’

Gwdihŵ hasn’t been the only city music venue involved in a planning dispute recently.

The fourth highest number of objections received by Cardiff Council over any planning application were over the development of a commercial unit next door to Clwb Ifor Bach on Womanby Street.

Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens was among 360 people who objected to the plans, which have since been withdrawn. The scheme “could cause irreparable damage to the diverse music scene many people from Cardiff and beyond currently enjoy every week,” Stevens had warned.

Tramshed too has warned its future has been put “in severe jeopardy by planning applications”, including one for a four-storey office block in its card park which ranked seventh with 199 objections.

The string of planning controversies risk undermining the Council’s plans to turn Cardiff into the UK’s first “music city”.

Contentious

Developments on park land have also caused a stir. Four of the top ten most controversial applications concern plans to build a new Velindre cancer centre on the ‘Northern Meadows’ in Whitchurch received a combined 1,228 comments for and against.

The redevelopment of Fitzalan High School, which parents of children at the nearby Ysgol Pwll Coch primary school said would “destroy our children’s playing field”, also featured on the list.

As did last year’s removal of the statue of slave owner Thomas Picton statue in City Hall, although that decision was supported by a large cross-section of Welsh society and political parties.

Welsh Government chief whip Jane Hutt called it a “very courageous” decision and Conservative MS David Melding agreed the statue “surely should be relocated somewhere.”

Only UKIP’s Neil Hamilton spoke up against its removal in the Senedd, saying the decision was a “politically motivated campaign by supporters of the Marxist pressure group Black Lives Matter.”

All of the top ten most contentious planning decisions since 2010 have come since 2017, when Labour took control of the Council.

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