Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Gething-backed project ‘would destroy conservation area and see train station built in wrong place’

29 Jun 2024 8 minute read
Vaughan Gething. Picture by the Welsh Government.

Martin Shipton

Campaigners are anxiously awaiting a planning decision on a project backed by Vaughan Gething they say would destroy a conservation area and see a train station built in the wrong location.

A company chaired by businessman Nigel Roberts wants to develop Hendre Lakes Business Park and a large new station called Cardiff Parkway at which express trains to London would stop.

The scheme was granted planning permission by Cardiff council in April 2022, but called in by Julie James, who was then the Welsh Government’s Climate Change Minister. “Calling in” means the decision on an application is taken not by the council, but by Planning & Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW), the planning inspectorate.

Cardiff Parkway station

In 2021 Mr Gething recorded a video in which he stated: “We’re here on the edge of the St Mellons Business Park, and to my left is the rail line that goes across into Cardiff and that way towards London.

It’s also near here that the Cardiff Parkway station is going to be created. The plans are going into planning already and hopefully with approval we can start work within the next year or so.

“That’s really exciting for me because I’ve been campaigning for passenger rail to have a station here in east Cardiff since I was first elected. I’ve worked with and supported the people who are behind the project to bring not just passenger rail but real employment opportunities as well.

“Lots of job creation potential, but also helping people to have a different way to move round not just Cardiff but the wider area. That’s good for the environment, but it’s also good for the future of the country.”

Supporter

Mr Roberts is a strong supporter of Mr Gething, and praised him and Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens in a social media post when he was elected Welsh Labour leader in March. The post stated: “You two will make a great team going forward, congratulations to Vaughan he has all the attributes to be a great leader for Wales. For the first time in a while I am very optimistic for what the future holds for our country.”

When the scheme was passed by Cardiff council in April 2022, Mr Roberts said: “We are delighted to have gained a positive outcome at the planning committee for this transformational project. Our proposals are for a sustainable, well-connected business district with public transport and active travel at its heart.

“The project will bring investment to an area of Cardiff that needs it, 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. We are looking forward to progressing the scheme.”

Damaging impacts

However Lyn Eynon, the planning lead for Cardiff Civic Society (CCS) said: “Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has identified many damaging impacts from this development. It has not ruled out approving the development and is seeking a Statement of Common Ground to narrow down issues.

“But its submission to the PEDW investigation concluded: ‘NRW does not agree that the applicant has adequately demonstrated that the proposals will appropriately compensate the permanent loss of SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) features as a result of the proposed development. NRW does not agree that the presumption against development as set out in planning policy has been displaced and considers that the grant of planning permission would not satisfy the duty requiring public authorities to take reasonable steps to further the conservation and enhancement of the features which have led to the designation of the SSSI. Accordingly, NRW maintains its objection.’

“The group Save The Gwent Levels is campaigning to protect the levels against developments such as Hendre Lakes and solar farms, and waste disposal such as that by Dauson Environmental [the company run by convicted businessman David Neal that donated £200k to Mr Gething’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign] .

“Their petition to ‘Halt significant new development on the Gwent Levels SSSIs’ gathered 4,567 signatures and is being considered by the Senedd’s Petitions Committee.

“A rail station in the east of the city has wide support, although not on the proposed scale or location, or associated with a large business park. PEDW held hearings in the summer of 2023. Its subsequent recommendation to approve the application was released in error prior to the Minister making her decision.

“On October 11 2023, the Welsh Government issued an Annex to Heads of Planning entitled Addressing the Nature Emergency through the Planning System. This Annex increased protection for SSSIs and other sites of natural importance. Following the issue of this Annex, PEDW was asked to reconsider its recommendation on the Hendre Lakes application, and a further hearing was held in late 2023. A decision was expected in early 2024 but is still outstanding.”

Submission

In a submission to PEDW about the proposal, CCS wrote: “The Vision [a document produced by the Arup consultancy] states that Hendre Lakes will ‘help people experience the region’s exceptional natural environment’. But the development will destroy the Marshfield SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) and about 8% of the Gwent Levels: Rumney and Peterstone SSSI. Does Western Gateway truly believe that the way to experience nature is to destroy it?”

On Cardiff Parkway station, the submission stated: “CCS recognises the poor provision of public transport in the east of the city.

“A rail station to the east of the A4232 would help improve that, but we are not convinced that the proposed site is the best location to meet the needs of residents, who would be better served by a station to the west of Hendre Lake, closer to where most people live.”

‘No requirement’

Friends of the Gwent Levels made a submission based on the Cardiff Employment Land and Premises study, which stated: “[There] is no requirement for such a large-scale office development in an out-of-town situation.

“This report provides a very clear indication that the 85,000 sq metres office space provision in the Hendre lakes Business Park development is contributing to the over-supply of speculative office space development and should be halted.

“Demand for Large Lease Office Space was already falling Pre-Pandemic

“Demand for long-term large office space leases began falling prior to the pandemic as employees were already turning to technology to support employees working at home. Out of Town (OOT) Rental shows significantly lower demand than the city centre, and developers are not utilising current undeveloped employment land in OOT business parks. Space availability exceeds 50% in some cases in the OOT locations, a trend that is likely to continue into forthcoming years according to office agents, as the requirement for more flexible collaborative working spaces with smaller floor spaces grows.

“Despite there being space for future office development on business parks such as Cardiff Gate, a lack of convertible demand means that there has been little activity from developers seeking [office] planning permissions. In fact, there have been attempts by developers to seek a change of use to undeveloped employment land to residential uses.

“Recent activity has been concentrated in the city centre, with less than 5% of development in the OOT market. The number of lease transactions in the OOT market has been falling as a share of the total consistently over the last five years. The neighbouring St Mellons Business Park had a 58% occupancy at the time of drafting the report.

“There is considerable uncertainty about the requirement for future office space, and patterns of hybrid working persist beyond the Covid pandemic.

“Notwithstanding, the majority of risk factors would put downward pressure on the total requirement and may lead to additional supply being released from the existing stock.

“The Covid pandemic appears to have accelerated a trend towards hybrid working which was already in existence pre-pandemic. The take-up of office space in Cardiff has fallen year on year from the take-up peak in 2016 and 2017 where approximately 700,000 sq ft of space was taken in both these years.

“A broad consensus has emerged that we are unlikely to return fully to the pre pandemic situation with at least some degree of hybrid working across the majority of occupiers.

“However, the balance of probabilities at the present time would suggest lower volumes of new office space being required over the next 15 years than were developed in the past.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
23 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Linda Jones
Linda Jones
15 days ago

If Gething supports an idea, to me, it has to be the wrong decision. I mean another business park when there are so many empty properties throughout Cardiff!!! At a time when there is a declining need for more business parks !!! A railway station in the St Mellons area away from where people live!!!! Involvement of Dauson Environment (Destruction)!!!! I despair

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

It certainly needs a second look…by Jac o’ the North…

The man who does his homework…

Is there nobody in Plaid who can do real Due Diligence and help Rhun out !

‘Welsh’ Labour’s top table needs to go…

If politicians can’t think for themselves then they are a liability or working for a few…

The Fat Shanks Effect is a moral Covid and it is politically blind…

Ricky Hunter
Ricky Hunter
15 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

How about letting Audit Wales do their job.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago
Reply to  Ricky Hunter

Get on with it then, hope you find Ricky…

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
14 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Rhun is too busy campaigning for Llinos Medi.

Ricky Hunter
Ricky Hunter
15 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Over 16,000 people live in Trowbridge. This development will encourage more to live in the area, attracted by the seven minute commute to the city centre, helping to boost one of the more deprived parts of Cardiff.

Lee Waters
Lee Waters
14 days ago
Reply to  Ricky Hunter

You don’t need a business park for that, just a station.

Anthony Couzens
Anthony Couzens
12 days ago
Reply to  Lee Waters

Why did WG take an equity stake in the developer then?

Anthony Couzens
Anthony Couzens
12 days ago
Reply to  Lee Waters
Frank
Frank
15 days ago

It’s absolutely amazing how many politicians, both Labour and Conservative, Welsh and English, that are against anything that could benefit Cymru in any way. It’s unbelievable. The incompetence of some Senedd members is very concerning. How the hell did they get into politics?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank

There is this Union of Solicitors…

Noel Walsh
Noel Walsh
15 days ago

I think you can build a straightforward, serviceable station without the masdive over development of a greenfield site. Strikes me the station is just an excuse for the main purpose of a questionable business park project.

Ricky Hunter
Ricky Hunter
15 days ago
Reply to  Noel Walsh

If it’s questionable why do Rolls Royce want to move in, according to reports in January? Let’s hope these avoidable delays don’t send their investment elsewhere.

Anthony Couzens
Anthony Couzens
12 days ago
Reply to  Noel Walsh

Have you got a spare £100m for the station? WG haven’t

Why vote
Why vote
15 days ago

Why is VG supporting this idea its not in his remit to get involved anymore unless he is campaigning for financial support for the upcoming election, he’s supposed to meet and greet dignitaries and flying allover the world on pointless exercises making a fool of himself and wales, four days away for a two hour meeting, The best course of action he could take on this is to stand down and leave political life.

Ricky Hunter
Ricky Hunter
15 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

Because it’s in his constituency. Your suggestion that becoming a government minister means you must stop supporting your constituency is odd.

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
15 days ago

There is plenty of land east of Cardiff currently used for large recycling centres and waste management, I sure they could be used….
Oh hang on, Vaughan Gething says there are 200,000 reasons why they definitely can’t!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
15 days ago

Rolls made 9.4 billion 2022 and still they more than doubled their profits in 2023… Boeing’s loss and war, more good tidings from them in prospect…

I spent the Gulf War in Sentinel, closed now I see…best canteen award from me…

Ap Kenneth
Ap Kenneth
15 days ago

Why do the two things, railway station and business park have to be linked? Because the private sector will fund the station? Is this because Network Rail and the UK Government do not and will not fund improvements to the Rail Network here in Wales that are their responsibility? A station at St Mellons/Trowbridge would be a huge boost for the area. Even 30 years ago the bus used to take an age to get to the city centre as Newport Road was totally gridlocked even then, if we want to increase use of public transport the station is a… Read more »

Anthony Couzens
Anthony Couzens
12 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

It’s not just funding public transport lacks it’s also initiative…. Private citizens and companies take initiative and make things happen… all very well saying why doesn’t the state do it… but the fact is they don’t and they haven’t.

So if you want our society to progress you have to celebrate and enable initiative whoever it is whoever gets out of bed and makes it happen.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
14 days ago

Hello! Could we have just a few transport scraps from the table? Mid wales , the Heart of Wsles Line and the buses all need help..

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
14 days ago

I am afraid Lyn Eynon that this is the future not only in Wales but also the UK under the incoming Starmer government. If you dare question or raise concerns about developments you will be called a NIMBY by Starmer supporters and accused of hindering progress.

Honest welsh
Honest welsh
12 days ago

Another enterprise that this new first minister
Is supporting that I consider dubious
As far building new office space is definitely not needed
Just look any government or council building that is underused .
The present business park has never had full occupancy
The government should be supporting and spending public money on priorities
Look at how much money has been thrown at Cardiff Airport over two hundred million pounds and forecast too lose over five million every year
Stop this waste of public money.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.