Opinion: Butetown is facing a housing squeeze

January 22, 2011 1 Comment »
Opinion: Butetown is facing a housing squeeze

butetown housing

Butetown is an area of Cardiff that has seen a dramatic increase in new development over the last 20 years.  The Local Development Plan is exactly that – a plan for the future of our local communities and it must take the needs of residents to it’s core.

The housing boom of the last decade saw land prices soar and in Butetown, the number of residences soared with it. Developers were building plush apartments for maximum return and lost sight of what builds and encourages strong communities.

The biggest issue I’m faced with when I speak with residents is affordable family housing. Apartments have their place but are often not appropriate. The LDP needs to cater for affordable social housing that meets the needs of families. Residents feel strongly about their need to live in the community where they are welcome and known by others. Building more affordable accommodation suitable for families would mean residents can stay in these communities and will not be forced to live elsewhere.

With accommodation comes parking. Residents in all areas around Loudoun Square, James Street and Atlantic Wharf have problems parking near their homes because of commuters. This is not just inconvenient, but dangerous, so I’m asking the Council to undertake investigations into parking safety and availability across the ward.

The Welsh Assembly Government should follow the lead of the Coalition in Westminster and remove restrictions on the number of parking spaces allowed in new developments. What’s wrong with councils and communities being free to set their own parking policies that are right for their own particular areas? With the best of intentions, allocating only 40 spaces for an apartment block of 80 simply doesn’t work.

Residents also need adequate open spaces in order to maintain a good quality of life.  We are fortunate in Butetown to have some excellent open spaces such as Hamadryad Park; Letton Park; and Canal Park. These open spaces give people time to relax, hold community events, and take respite from the day-to-day grind.  I’d like to see these open spaces protected and no further infill developments allowed.

Cardiff council initially brought forward a proposed LDP that would have protected our open spaces by allowing development only on brownfield sites. These are areas that have already been developed in the past and could have met the city’s housing needs for the next 10 years and more.  However this approach has been rejected by the Welsh Assembly’s inspectors and the council will now have to allocate some of Cardiff’s open spaces for development. In Butetown we are already under pressure in terms of the number and size of our open spaces and I will be doing all I can to ensure what we have is protected.

We have a problem with unemployment. What we need are more opportunities for our communities and young people to gain the skills they need to progress in life. I would therefore welcome plans that would develop land near Dumballs Road for employment and training.  There are already a whole range of businesses based here that provide a strong basis for the Butetown economy, and with more support and regeneration to improve this area, this could help the traditional businesses that have existed in Butetown for generations to expand and flourish.

With any proposal, I will consider all relevant information before I vote, but I feel strongly about the issues I’ve outlined and I will continue to fight for policies that include the regeneration of Butetown which benefits all residents.

Do you live in the area? What do you think about the local development plan? Let us know your views in the comments below

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