Pontarddulais cycle route through ancient woodland approved despite over 100 letters of objection
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A cycle and pedestrian path has been given the go-ahead in Pontarddulais, despite scores of objections about its route through an ancient woodland.
The scheme includes a section in Coed Bach Park, which is a designated site of importance for nature conservation.
Swansea Council received 110 letters of objection and a petition with 94 signatures about its proposal to link Pentre Road in Pontarddulais with an existing cycle path at Tidal Reach.
Many objectors said they supported a shared-use path but not one through Coed Bach Park. There was, they said, a potential danger to children, elderly people and animals in the park.
And the petition claimed the path “will become a race track causing serious injuries to all involved”.
Others were worried that wildlife would suffer and that trees would have to be felled.
Pontarddulais Town Council objected to the proposed route, saying a new three-metre wide asphalt path would ruin the ethos of the woods. It said the path would pass directly by the entrance to Pontarddulais RFC and then turn onto the perimeter path of the football club, creating a risk of collision with the public.
The town council said there was another option for the path to follow which was preferable.
Addressing Swansea Council’s planning committee, Pontarddulais councillor Kevin Griffiths said public safety was a concern and that vulnerable people volunteered at Coed Bach Park, near where the shared-use path was planned.
He also said there had been a spate of dog attacks in the park, including one which resulted in a woman attending hospital.
Councillor Phil Downing, who is a member of the committee and also represents Pontarddulais, called in the application.
He said he wasn’t against a new shared-use route but had reservations about safety. The rugby club entrance and car park, he said, was a very busy area, and some of the vulnerable young people who volunteered in the park had “reduced sensory awareness”.
The council’s planning department recommended the application for approval, and an officer told the committee: “Clearly there is a lot going on in the area of Coed Bach Park, but often we see activity in parks”.
Welsh Water objected to the proposal, as did the Woodland Trust and Swansea Tree Forum. Natural Resources Wales said it would object without further information being submitted.
The planning report before the committee said it was likely that several trees would be cut down, but not ancient woodland ones. It added that the council’s tree officer did not raise an objection, subject to a tree protection plan and arboricultural method statement being submitted.
Committee members voted in favour of the new shared-use path, except for Cllr Downing who voted against it. The council must abide by 13 conditions as part of the approval.
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.