Second petition submitted against controversial military museum plan in Cardiff

Architectural plans for the military museum. Picture by Scott Brownrigg

Cardiff Council has now received more than 300 objections to controversial plans to build a museum on a city park after a second petition was submitted to councillors.

Around 250 people have backed a second petition, organised by the Liberal Democrats, objecting to a proposal by the Museum of Military Medicine to build a new five-story home on part of Britannia Park.

A grade II listed building, children’s park and public artwork would have to be relocated to make way for the museum currently based at a military barracks in Aldershot.

And the latest petition, organised by former Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman, calls on the Council to save the “valued public open space” and help the museum identify a more suitable site.

“Whilst we have no issue with bringing a new museum to Cardiff Bay, we feel there are plenty of other sites not too far away where it could be better located so that this well-used area of public open space which forms part of the walkway around Roath Basin could be retained,” says the website of Cardiff Liberal Democrats.

“Cardiff Council seems more concerned with making a profit from selling the site to the museum owners than on keeping this area for the public to enjoy as it is.”

 

‘Rare’

The petition comes after high-profile interventions on either side of the increasingly contested planning battle and takes the number of formal objections received by the Council through petitions or letters to 318.

Butetown’s only councillor, Saeed Ebrahim, said it was “unnecessary to build over a park”, while Cardiff Civic Society said the plans represented an “unacceptable loss of open space.”

Poet Mererid Hopwood too said it would be “very unfair” to build over a “painfully rare” play area, while also highlighting her objections to the military nature of the museum.

Cardiff has 394 hectares less open space than recommended by national guidelines, according to Council documents. Of Cardiff’s 28 wards, Butetown has the fourth-lowest level of formal open space.

Asbri Planning, which is advising the museum on the move, has argued the scheme will “not result in a significant loss of open green space” but “improve the space”.

Other objections have cast doubt on the business plan based on 175,000 paying visits in its first year.

‘Doubts’

The Museum hit back at what it called “fake news” about its plans by coordinating letters of support to the Council’s planning department, Nation.Cymru recently revealed.

“I have noticed recently that Cardiff Council’s planning department is being fed this misinformation by objectors to the project,” a Museum representative wrote in an email published after a freedom of information request.

“Although most of the objections are not valid planning considerations we fear that the objections are placing doubts in the minds of the planning committee members.”

Museum director Jason Semmens published a statement last week saying: “Our decision to bring the Museum of Military Medicine to Cardiff was based on the fact that Wales has a legacy of medical innovation that continues today.

“Welsh universities are leaders in medical training, and Cardiff Bay’s specific links to military medicine reveal stories that should be told.”

Cardiff Council has not yet set a date for its planning committee to consider the application.

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