Cardiff council has been accused of using “wicked and sneaky” tactics to ensure a new 1,500 capacity school is built on community parkland.
The authority’s executive will today to decide whether to “appropriate” Rumney Recreation Ground for planning purposes – a decision which will mean the land will no longer be recognised as a “public open space” but as land designed to “facilitate the carrying out of development on the land”.
Campaigners have spent the past four years battling plans to stop the authority building on The Rec and will take their fight to the High Court on August 22 where a judge will scrutinise the authority’s decision not to award the much-loved city park village green status.
But should the executive agree to appropriate the land, the council will be able to press ahead with the new school regardless of the High Court decision as the protection offered by village green status will be overridden.
Labour councillor Ralph Cook, said: “I am stunned by this and I think it’s quite wicked.
“It’s very, very sneaky. What they’re doing is they’re trying to ensure that whatever the outcome of the High Court the Rec cannot be protected by village green status because village green rights will be overridden if they are to appropriate the land for planning purposes.
“In effect the council are trying to circumvent any decision handed down from the High Court.”
Vaughan Gething, the newly-elected AM for Cardiff South & Penarth, who is acting as the solicitor for the campaign group fighting the council, said it was frustrating the two parties could not reach a compromise.
“It’s disappointing that the council have not been trying to engage in a discussion with the campaigners which may have avoided the need to continue with a judicial review.
“I know that it’s costing council tax payers a considerable sum and it would be better if an alternative solution could be found.”
A spokesman for the authority said: “[During the wait for the judicial review] the council will still be pursuing the planning process to establish a new secondary school in the east of the city in order to comply with the timescales set out by the Welsh Government Education Minister for the new school, who gave a deadline of September 30.”
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