Campaigners question local development consultation

December 6, 2010 2 Comments »
Campaigners question local development consultation

fairwater greenfield site

A series of events to plan the future of Cardiff have come under-fire from campaigners and local residents, who branded the consultation “non-existent”.

Four events across the city last week managed to attract just 100 people to have their say on how Cardiff should develop.

Issues of transport, housing, flooding and growth were all on the agenda but residents were frustrated as all they found were post-it notes and maps.

Former Fairwater councillor Michael Michael said the consultation was “non-existent” in his area of the city.

He said: “I am amazed they haven’t run an event in Fairwater when this is one of the areas they might have to build on.

“We need politicians who aren’t afraid to make decisions to drive this local development plan. You can’t tell people to just live in flats, they want to live in houses.”

The previous Local Development Plan (LDP) was withdrawn by Cardiff council earlier this year after an Assembly inspector raised serious doubts about the “soundness” of the plan.

The LDP is the document that guides the council’s policy for where it builds new houses to meet the demand for family homes in the city and Cardiff’s increasing population.

David Eggleton, secretary of Cardiff Civic Society who criticised the previous plan for failing to consult properly, said he was disappointed the council hadn’t advertised the public meetings more.

He said: “The public meetings are the most important part of this and yet they are tucked away towards the back of the questionnaire.

“We have to get this plan right for the future of Cardiff and Wales as a whole.”

In Whitchurch the consultation event was criticised by local blogger, Matthew Locke on community website MyWhitchurch.

He wrote: “My expectations of a presentation, a head table and a room full of chairs for the public to sit on were well off the mark. Instead we had exhibition boards, posters and several large maps laid out on tables. There was very little in the way of explanations. This wasn’t a meeting. This was public relations.”

Mr Locke said he felt the consultation was an “arse-covering exercise, so in 2026 when everyone is complaining they can say everyone was given the chance to have their say.”

Rob Griffiths, chair of the Cardiff Against the Incinerator campaign, attended a session in Atlantic Wharf.

He said: “I was very disappointed with the lack of information. It seems quite clear they have rushed ahead with this consultation without thinking about the whole situation.”

Mr Griffiths says he raised concerns over traffic and flooding, but was told by council officers these were dealt with by a different department.

The previous LDP took the stance of not building houses on any greenfield sites, but last week Council leader Rodney Berman admitted the council would have to abandon this policy.

In Ely, two local residents braved the cold to have their say on how the city should develop, and were confused by what they found.

Ben Thomas, 63, of Highmead Road, Cardiff: “[The council] appear to be making an effort, certainly from my point of view it’s improved from the last time. But for me the problem is being able to articulate exactly what I want to say, it’s a question of whether I can actually get my views across as I want them to be heard.

“I am not particularly articulate in putting across some of my ideas on paper and I find it all very frustrating.

“I’ve got a vision of what I’d like to see but I don’t really know how I get them to evaluate them.

“Another thing is these consultations. The display boards are great for people who know what’s going on but for some people who come off the street I doubt they’d stay very long because it’s quite hard to digest.

Jane Hayes, 42, of Ely, said : “I think it’s quite hard to look at all this information, it’s quite abstract. It’s almost like asking residents to decide the future of Cardiff on the back of fag packet.

“It’s great that they’re carrying out these meetings because it gives people the chance to ask questions but I would like to see workshops which bring together people from different groups who are well informed with the process and what the community wants.

“I brought my neighbour along with me and he didn’t hang around very long, he took one look around and walked out because he thought it all went straight over his head.”

A spokeswoman for Cardiff council said: “Over 100 people have attended the LDP engagement events to date generating stimulating responses to help develop the LDP vision and objectives. The clear majority of feedback from those attending has shown that the events were considered useful or very useful. People also have the opportunity to submit views on-line, via the Capital Times questionnaire and over 5,000 questionnaire surveys have also been sent out- views can still be submitted up to 10th December. We therefore expect a wide range of responses reflecting the views of people from across the city.”

Did you attend one of the consultation sessions? What did you think? Where do you think new housing should go? Let us know your views in the comments below

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