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PLANS approved for bus station and seven storeys of apartments in west Cardiff

Plans have been approved for a small bus station and seven storeys of 44 apartments in west Cardiff.

Cardiff council now has planning permission to build the apartments and transport interchange at Waungron Road, with a shop and cafe on the ground floor.

The Western Transport Interchange forms a key part of the future public transport network in Cardiff, while some of the apartments will be move-on accommodation for homeless people.

The council’s planning committee voted to grant permission on Wednesday, December 15, after hearing concerns about increased traffic congestion and the height of the building.

Cardiff council has received a “direction from Welsh Government” meaning the planning committee could not yet grant final permission for the scheme. One council officer said: “They’ve in essence frozen the decision-making process.” The Welsh Government might now call in the application, for ministers to take the final decision.

Councillor Philippa Hill-John, representing Llandaff, said the council failed to properly consult elderly people, schoolchildren and bus users about the development. She added there were concerns the building would be too tall, and could increase air pollution in the local area. She claimed that new bus lanes would worsen congestion as drivers would have less space.

She said: “We want to put on record the overwhelming concern of residents. We’re in support of more bus services and integration with rail and cycling networks, but it has to work for everyone and where there isn’t an increase in air quality issues that further compound the air quality problems we face today.

“Road congestion will result as well. The areas around the interchange and Western Avenue will see the introduction of bus lanes and rapid bus corridors as part of the transport plan for Cardiff. This will mean Western Avenue and Waungron Road will be reduced to a single lane of traffic, forcing current levels of congestion into single lanes.

“Traffic will back up on Ely Road making the morning and evening traffic even more unbearable than it is at the moment, adding to the pollution levels. No doubt this will have a major impact on parking, too, already where spaces are in such high demand.”

David Davies, council planning officer, said air pollution would not be an issue, consultation guidance was followed, and children do not need to be consulted on planning applications.

He said: “The pre-application consultation was carried out by the housing department in accordance with the revised Welsh Government recommendations that reflected the situation with Covid. They could do no more than that without putting other people at risk.

“We have made all the publicity requirements necessary. It’s not normal that children are specifically consulted, that’s not a planning requirement. There is also no privacy or overbearing issue with this scheme.”

Paul Carter, head of transportation, said the transport interchange would hopefully encourage people to travel by public transport instead of driving, which would reduce congestion, air pollution and parking pressures.

He said: “The real issue here is about changing travel behaviour. Key to all of this is making sure we have good transport alternatives available. This transport interchange is a key project in this very strategic location, to encourage more cross-city movement.

“It would create better connectivity with the University Hospital of Wales, for example, coming from Ely or Caerau without having to go into the city centre to change onto other bus services. Equally it would link with Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff East park-and-ride, and potentially Cardiff Gate business park.

“If we can get people to change their behaviour, then obviously that’s going to take off a lot of the existing network. This game-changing proposal is going to really change the agenda, encouraging that behaviour and giving those choices. It’s going to be a catalyst for other improvements, like crossing facilities and cycling facilities.”

Six councillors on the planning committee voted in favour of granting permission, with one voting against and one abstaining.

The scheme will be built on the site of a former recycling centre, which closed in 2014. The new bus station has long been an ambition, but has been delayed for several years. The council initially received planning permission for a different design of the transport interchange in 2016, but developers faced problems with the site and eventually pulled out.

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