A majority of Cardiff residents do not believe the city needs the 45,000 new homes proposed in the council’s Local Development Plan, and half are opposed to building on greenfield land, according to a survey by yourCardiff.
We asked people to complete a survey about what they thought of Cardiff’s LDP preferred strategy, which was approved by councillors on Thursday night. The proposals, which will now go out to consultation, would see 45,000 houses being built across Cardiff over the next 14 years, with more than 18,000 of those homes built on greenfield land.
But the majority of people who completed our survey appeared to reject some of the fundamental principles on which the city’s Labour-led council has based its proposals, and cast doubt on whether its ambitious targets could be met.
Do we need 45,000 new homes?
Cabinet member for planning and transport Councillor Ralph Cook introduced the LDP preferred strategy to the full council on Thursday saying Cardiff needed an LDP “as soon as possible”, and that to become a European capital, the city “must accept growth”.
But asked if they thought Cardiff needs 45,000 new homes, 59.3% of those who responded to our survey said no, compared to 33% of those who said yes.
One respondent said: “This is a ridiculous proposal – house prices are high not because of a lack of supply but because of second home ownership. This will accelerate the tendency for Cathays and similar areas to become slums”. Another commented that the “roads can’t cope and the council has been reducing school places for last few years – go figure!”
Others said there were plenty of empty houses that needed redeveloping, or whether there would be demand for such a high number of new build properties.
However, some said Cardiff does need to have a “critical mass” in terms of housing and employment opportunities to become a “genuine European regional capital”, but for this to happen, planning future development needs to be done with a regional approach.
A city region approach
The idea of regional planning – or creating a city region – was advocated by several opposition councillors on Thursday night. However, council leader Heather Joyce there was little appetite from neighbouring authorities to take Cardiff’s housing allocation.
But 72.2% of our survey’s respondents agreed that Cardiff should be taking a regional approach to planning – where the city works in conjunction with neighbouring authorities. 20% disagreed.
One said: “There is always a danger of an over concentration in a particular area which puts an immense strain on other services, for example health.”
Another commented: “Yes! But I doubt whether the people deciding on these issues have the strategic thinking abilities and competencies it takes to follow an integrative approach. Which includes: Taking a step back, include the city region idea, include transportation- and green zone concerns, and start optimising instead of compromising.”
But others said people primarily want to work and live in Cardiff, therefore even if houses were built in surrounding areas, people would still be looking for homes in the city. Some said that “shoving the problem” on to other authorities could also result is more commuting, more pollution, and “an even greater chance of poorly designed car-centric estates”.
Building on greenfield land
When it comes to building on greenfield land, the survey results also showed many were at odds with the council’s approach. Coun Cook said at Thursday night’s meeting that while building on greenfield land was a difficult concept to grapple with, the council had to weigh up the conflicting arguments before it. The LDP Preferred Strategy proposes building 18,250 new homes on greenfield land.
But in our survey, just 21.6% of people said building on greenfield land was the only way to cater for the city’s development. 28.4% said we should build on greenfield land, but only as a last resort and that the 18,000 homes planned as part of the LDP was too much. 50% said we should not build on greenfield at all, and protect the green spaces we have left.
The LDP Preferred Strategy was described by some respondents as “absolutely ludicrous” and “nothing short of environmental vandalism”, while another said: “We should try to breathe new life into existing city areas, where infrastructure and community already exist”.
However, others argued that greenfield development was unavoidable, and the best way to control development overall.
One said: “Brownfield sites should be used first and foremost, but as the land is scarce in comparison, it should be used for high rise buildings. New suburbs need to be built on greenfield.”
Another commented: “Greenfield is all well and good but due to population increase, homes need building. There must be thought as to meeting a happy medium. We do need to preserve greenfield and prioritise brownfield sites, but also heed should be made to the vast number of vacant/derelict properties that could be utilised.”
We also asked people to choose which of the greenfield sites earmarked for development so far they thought would be suitable.
The 2,000 homes planned for land off Junction 33 of the M4 were thought to be suitable by 70.8% of respondents, followed by the 2,000 homes to the east of the Pontprennau Link Road at 60.4%, and 6,000 homes on land between Lisvane and Pontprennau at 52.1%. The 750 homes planned south of Creigiau were thought to suitable by 54.2% of respondents, and 50% thought the development of 7,500 homes in a new suburb west of Pentrebane would be acceptable.
But in the comments, many said that none of these were suitable, especially given their location on the fringes of the city.
One said: “I’m concerned about the accessibility to the city with most of these developments. I’m concerned people would use cars because of lack of a viable alternative (poor public transport, unpleasant roads for cycling), and that the city is already at saturation point.”
Public transport infrastructure
Looking at the question of whether Cardiff’s transport infrastructure could cope with extra 45,000 homes in 14 years, 60.7% said no. 37.1% said it could cope, but only if public transport was significantly improved, while just 2.2% thought it would be able to handle development on that scale.
The Preferred Strategy outlines plans to achieve a 50-50 split between people travelling by car and using “non car” modes of transport by 2026. It plans to do this through improved public transport, more park and ride schemes, and a better walking and cycling infrastructure. But 58% thought this target was unachievable, with just 33% believing it was a possibility.
Comments on the issue of public transport included:
- “Bus services need to link laterally as well as centrally, and traffic free and other safer cycling and walking routes need to be developed, as well as improvements in facilities to take bikes on public transport.”
- “The proposal to add bus lanes is pathetic. 45,000 new homes will generate many more cars on our roads. Do they seriously think that with the infrastructure we currently have, merely adding a few bus lanes will be enough?”
- “Much more rail investment needed – eg, new stations at Mynachdy/Talybont and St. Mellons.”
- “Transport needs to be revised to cope with the rapidly expanding population – reintroduction of a tram system – congestion charge – affordable prices”
What do you think of the proposals in the LDP, and the arguments that have been made above? Let us know your thoughts on the debate in the comments below.