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Council ‘dumping on working class community’ with new builds on children’s playing field claim opposers

Opposition to plans for seven new bungalows in Ely on ‘children’s play area’

Seven bungalows are set to be built in Ely on land often used by local children for playing.

Cardiff council gave planning permission for the bungalows on Wednesday, November 3.

Local councillors criticised the plans for removing public open space, while council officers said children could play elsewhere like nearby parks.

The seven bungalows, on land off Cherrydale Road, will be classed as ‘affordable’ and will be for elderly people. The council’s housing department is behind the project.

A petition against the plans was signed by 54 people. Cllr Neil McEvoy, representing the petitioners, told the committee that the council was “dumping on a working class community”.

He said: “Any local knowledge would tell you that there are no safe areas for children to play locally. The beauty of the amenity, as it is now, is that it’s an open space and viewable for parents who can see where the children are, and what the children are doing.

“It’s not the fault of the residents that the area has been neglected by the parks [department], the children do play there and it will be a loss of amenity.

“I see this as a working class community again being dumped on by a very ignorant, uncaring council.

“This is an important green space for those residents and it seems Cardiff council just cannot appreciate that. It’s very disappointing.”

One issue is the site has not been well maintained, and doesn’t have any play equipment.

The council’s parks officer said children could instead play in the nearby Mill Road Park, and added the council would not invest in the site due to its secluded location behind houses.

In a planning report, the parks officer said: “There are alternative open spaces close by, like Mill Road Park, which can provide the same opportunities as that which might be offered by the application site.

“Those opportunities might be for informal play and recreation for young children, but given the site’s secluded location at the rear and side of properties on Cherrydale Road and the lack of a buffer, it is not considered to have significant value. Furthermore, the site is not of significant quality and while it is possible for this to be improved through better maintenance, it will not be a target for investment because of its location and lack of a buffer.”

Arwel Evans, a planning agent representing the council’s housing department, told the committee that there was a shortage of bungalows in the local area. He added the current site is “not high quality” and is regularly fly-tipped.

He said: “There is a very high demand for accessible bungalows for the elderly in the ward of Ely, and this development will assist in addressing this particular need. The site is a small vacant parcel of land owned by Cardiff council. The site is not maintained as open space, it doesn’t include any facilities, it’s not high quality in ecological or landscape terms, suffers from regular fly-tipping, and there are ample alternative open spaces nearby.”

Councillors on the planning committee were split on whether to support the scheme, with six voting in favour and three against. Cllr Michael Jones-Pritchard criticised the scheme for building on public open space.

He said: “This is a piece of public open space that we’re now saying is acceptable to be built on because we don’t mow it very often, we haven’t stuck any benches there, we haven’t put any slides up there, it’s not used every day. I find it difficult, that after all we’re talking about greening the city and public open space, this scheme would take away [open space].”

Cllr Iona Gordon said she supported the plans for the “unused field” as local elderly people living in large houses could relocate into the bungalows.

She said: “This is a really neat little plan on an unused field. It’s seven small bungalows, and it’s our council which is recommending this scheme to go ahead.

“It’ll free up some of the larger houses in Ely where the children have grown up and moved away. You have older people living in large three-bedroom properties, who would probably absolutely love to remain in Ely, but in purpose-built bungalows like these. I’m 100 per cent supportive of this.”

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