50 figures from various parts of Welsh public life have put their name to a letter opposing the development of a military medicine museum in Cardiff Bay.
Cardiff Council is set to approve the highly contested plans for the construction of the five-storey museum, which will also house the Museum of Army Music, on the green space of Britannia Park.
Organisers off the letter which has been signed by experts and practitioners from the sciences, arts, religious community and politics said it demonstrated that opposition was “vociferous and wide-ranging”.
Those who have signed the letter include Dr Abdul-Azim Ahmed, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, Anthony Slaughter, Leader of the Green Party in Wales and Economic Professor Calvin Jones.
The museum would build over the only green space in Cardiff Bay, lacks a sustainable financial plan and is “a monument to the British Empire and its armed forces in the historic neighbourhood of Tiger Bay and the Docks, and at the doorstep of our Senedd,” the letter states.
Campaigners say that at a time where Cardiff Council have established a BAME Taskforce to give prominence to the voice of minorities, there should instead be a museum for the minority communities of Cardiff and Wales.
The letter says that “Tiger Bay and the Docks deserve a museum, but it is not this one.”
Ossie Wheatley, the former Glamorgan Captain, and representative of the group ‘Friends of Britannia Park’ said that it was clear that the council did not appreciate the park.
“How ironic that Cardiff Council should announce their plans for the enormous redevelopment in Cardiff Bay of over 1000 new homes, an indoor arena, offices, an hotel, cultural attractions etc, etc, at the same time as they are supporting the application to build a Medical Museum on half of Britannia Park,” he said.
“Plainly the Council do not appreciate the importance of Britannia and Waterfront Parks to local residents as well as visitors in providing the only small green spaces left in the main part of the Bay.
“The significance of the Park is only going to increase in the face of the redevelopment of County Hall and the Red Dragon Centre – which covers 30 acres!
“Green space matters. To put a 70 foot high industrial block on the Park is a blot on the landscape and an attack on the ambience of the whole Bay.”
Nirushan Sudarsan and Elbashir Idriss, speaking on behalf of the local group Butetown Matters, said that the Butetown community should have an active role in the decision-making process.
“A Military Medicine Museum which was offered to other cities and refused by those cities shouldn’t simply then be dumped in Butetown,” he said.
“Local communities are losing their vital spaces without proper consultation and discussion. Our city is changing rapidly and communities are being sidelined and marginalised as developers are coming in and changing the spaces we value and want.
“Communities need to have the right to challenge the unfair power of developers. We need to give communities a real voice in the planning process and make community objections so they can be consulted properly.”
Huw Williams, who helped to organise the letter and has been organising with the recently formed group, Reclaim Cardiff, said that the council were not listening to people’s concerns.
“It is clear that there is little welcome for this project in Cardiff and that everyone, from local concerned residents, to the wider community of Cardiff, and Wales as a whole, is dismayed that Cardiff Council should push ahead with this despite the environmental and economic issues and the fundamental objections about placing this museum on this site,” he said.
“The number of different voices that are objecting speaks volumes. It should be emphasised that council leaders, Huw Thomas and Russell Goodway in particular, could have stopped this process in its tracks months ago by simply refusing to sell the land, and protecting it for the community.
“The fact they have gone on to pursue this regardless speaks volumes for how little they are willing to listen to the citizens of Cardiff.
“As residents see their city being rapidly transformed, and not for the better, this autocratic approach to local government is doubly unacceptable and cannot go on.”