The latest round of an eleven-year battle over the future of land around Llanishen Resevoir has been heard in the High Court.
Western Power Distribution is seeking to have the decision to appropriate land near Llanishen Reservoir as allotments set aside, claiming the factual basis of the decision was wrong.
South Rise Allotments, located off Lisvane Road, between South Rise and the reservoir, has been used by gardeners in north Cardiff since 1976 but due to an oversight at the time, the council had not formally appropriated the land for allotment use.
In July 2011, the Labour cabinet voted to appropriate the entire site, including unused land known as the “blue strip” and the car park.
However, representing the WPD, John Steel QC, said not enough regard had been given to the use of land as public open space.
He said the starting point should be public open space, although fenced off, and whether it should be used in that way, rather then looking at whether the de facto allotment use should continue, as no one has complained about it.
Mr Steel said the councils park manager had argued the land was a dead end and people would prefer to use the circular walk around the reservoir, and therefore opening up the land would not alleviate pressure on the local environment.
However, he argued that the comparison was not valid as the circular walks were not always available, and were closed to dog walkers, and on that basis the land could be an attractive option.
Representing Cardiff council, Mark Lowe QC, said it was common knowledge that access was limited and the attractiveness of the reservoir walk was based on the circular routes, when available and the views.
He said: “The question to which all this information is directed, which is whether the land will attract those who are making recreational use of the reservoir and alleviate it from this harmful pressure, that is the judgement.”
Mr Steel also argued that councillors may have been led to think that there was more public land available in neighbouring wards due to a 2007 report that counted educational land, even though it was not accessible for walkers and dog owners.
He said more recent figures showed a deficit of informal recreation land in Llanishen, Lisvane and Cyncoed, and had councillors known this they may have been reluctant to change the land from public open space.
A judgement is due in the case later this week.