Saturday, 3 March 2018

Penarth Civic Society Will NOT protect our conservation areas

Chris Wyatt and Audrey Poole
Audrey Poole President of the CIVIC SOCIETY response to Northcliffe in Penarth Conservation area. architecture, like art,  is very much a personal preference. Perhaps its more the close relationship with Chris Loyn the brutalist architect who was the previous president . 
Audrey Poole with Chris Wyatt who does the civic society face-book page and posts what he likes and excludes members like Anne Greagsby from posting. 
Chair of the civic society is James Long who doesn't live in Penarth and bullies even members of the committee. 
 Could we continue to trust these people with the Penarth archive?

Audrey Poole audrey733@btinternet.com

7/11/17

to me


Dear Anne ,
The only issues I could question over this application  would be the stability of the actual site and the problem of increased traffic which would be a factor in any new development  and you don't mention those.  As far as the building is concerned,  architecture, like art,  is very much a personal preference and I would always prefer genuine creativity in design to pastiche. A town must be allowed to evolve and we can't keep Penarth in a time warp. If you are looking at impact on the environment the modern high apartment blocks that dominate the skyline in key areas of the town, which  seemed to appear almost overnight , really do have a negative impact and should have been opposed.
Regards
Audrey

Anne Greagsby womensvoice@gmail.com

Attachments7/11/17
to LONGwyatt.partnerslindabantockGeoffAudreyAndrewAnnejillianpennanne.evans21Max
Northcliffe Lodge cliffside flats renewed application

This new application has another version of modern square blocks crammed in, but no regard to the historic importance.

The application documents are mainly a new "Heritage Impact Assessment" by some English company EDP.  They have the impudence to write they knew that new WG/Cadw Guidance was due out, but preferred the English 2011 guidance - they had objected to the draft Welsh guidance, so said they'd use the English one.

Nor did they follow what our Conservation Officer said he was bound by - the draft Setting of Historic Assets in Wales (but he followed it badly).  They include actual photos from the barrage, but crucially do not make a photo-montage with the new blocks imposed just above the Custom House roof.  Instead they provide a lot of text about the "setting" of the Barrage, Marina and Paget Rd houses having changed since the Custom House was built!

Publication of the new Welsh policy TAN 24 http://gov.wales/topics/planning/policy/tans/tan-24/?lang=en  catches the consultants out, being in force 31 May.  Likewise the Setting  document was published on 31 May, with some wording changes (eg. 'good practice' replaced by direct statement) from last year's draft. A copy is attached.  Also, likewise, the LDP is now adopted - so 
For listed and locally listed buildings, development proposals must preserve or
enhance the building, its setting... 

They make no argument for preserving the tree-covered cliffside setting of the Custom House and Marine Buildings. 

Perhaps the first target is to get the Vale to agree the Consultants' summary statement is false:
"S4 The assessment has been prepared in line with current best practice professional guidance issued by English Heritage in 2011 and endorsed by Cadw".
Why shouldn't the Vale reject the application on this account and save us the tedious trouble of going through it and pointing out the inadequacies re. the new documents?

Otherwise, as they quote the Conservation Officer, Peter Thomas's conclusion, we have to detail his inadequacies against the Setting of Historic Assets in Wales document - against its detailed staged assessment and use of photomontages that he skipped.

Another key point is whether the existing Lodge should be 'listed' on historical grounds.  It apparently copied the original smaller Lodge.  We said it had no architectural interest, but listing buildings includes also 
b. Historic interest: this includes buildings that illustrate important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural, or military history.
c. Close historical associations: with people or events of importance to Wales.
A case could be made on the basis of its association with development of the Penarth Dock and Cardiff as a shipping port; with in particular John Batchelor (*'man of freedom") who wrenched Cardiff from the domination of the Bute's and Earl of Plymouth.

As mentioned, TAN24 is now published - link above. Has anyone seen an assessment of what that means in practical terms for Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings?   I think it fails to require Highways Authorities to pay any regard to Conservation Area and setting of listed buildings - don't we need a Resolution by the Vale Council to make our highwaymen comply?

Best wishes,
Anne

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

No to revoking Cogan's Air Quality Action zone.

No to revoking Cogan's Air Quality Action zone.

Anne Greagsby with Max Wallis at the
Cogan NO2 sensor
This Vale Council proposal stems from NO2 pollution levels in 2016 being below the legal limit in 2016, according to the new annual report to Cabinet on 9th October  

Barry & Vale FoE strongly oppose revoking the AQMA (Air Quality Management Area).  They argue
## the Vale excludes high readings on Cogan hill, at the shops in the old Cogan Docks station.  The problem comes mainly from queuing traffic up to Barons Court, which needs tackling.
 ## the Welsh government now says the ‘normal’ high levels of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) in Cogan are not 'safe', including when just below the legal limit.  It means Cogan still has a problem.

Barry&FoE wrote to Cllr Geoff Cox, the Cabinet member responsible for traffic pollution, urging the Council take seriously the new Welsh policy:
We notice that the report to Cabinet does not point out the tighter policy guidance on LAQM announced in June  (Local air quality management in Wales.  Policy guidance PG(W)(17)).
This says  the national air quality objectives are not ‘safe’ levels of air pollution, though the VoG policy till now has been to accept levels within those out-dated 'objectives'.
It adds that the Welsh government encourages Local Authorities or regional groupings "putting in place a local or regional air quality strategy... to keep levels of air pollution as low as reasonably practicable". 

the Council has to consult with the local community and to demonstrate that the legal limits ("objectives") are being met and will continue to be met (Policy Guidance s.4.14).

FoE points out that the Council data shows the limiting NO2 "objective" was again exceeded at the Marine Scene monitoring point (44.4 in 2016, compared with the 40 legal limit).  This position is at shops which people pass and where shop-workers stay for extended periods, opposite approved new housing development, and on essential "active travel" routes for walking and cycling between Cogan and Penarth Haven/Pont y Werin bridge.  This stretch of road should, FoE believe, be included in the AQMA and action taken to manage the polluting traffic queues.

# Air Pollution levels in Cogan high alarmingly
Friends of the Earth’s special pollution monitoring found alarming levels of NO2 pollution on Windsor Road in Cogan in February 2017.  Preliminary results show levels (61) were 50% higher than the annual limit of 40 microgrammes per cu metre.

Roadside monitor at Cogan
 Bus-stop.
  
The Cogan results were from a monitor at the town-wards bus stop, where people are exposed crossing to the bus, waiting for it and even sitting in it. The level appears rather higher than the Council results from sensors on house frontages in the same road. FoE will therefore undertake further monitoring and cross-check the results against Council data. 
The Council’s air pollution report** of August 2016 suggested that results were improving in the Cogan “Management Area” but that may have just been a fluke of the weather.

Anne Greagsby assisted with the Cogan monitoring (picture below).  She says “The Council has for too long been complacent about harmful levels of vehicle pollution.  At last, the Welsh Government tells them it’s not safe for health, so let’s see some serious action.”





Data  (lab blank subtracted)    Corrected (taking bias factor 0.88**) in µg/m3
Cogan                          68.83a                                      60.6
Murch Cross Rd                  39.31                                                     34.6
Crossing by shops              34.34                                                     30.2
  (55 Cardiff Rd)  
Eastbrook Stn                      31.20                                                     27.5
  (149 Cardiff Rd)

** bias factor for 2016 was unusually low at 0.78, still to be explained. The bias factor from the VoG’s own continuous monitor in 2016 at Cogan was 0.70, an unexplained difference.
a The VoG diffusion tube results were also likewise very high over January-February 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Northcliffe officer reports not accurate and misleading

2017/00541/FUL Northcliffe Lodge Penarth going to the VoG planning committee cmte on Thursday 

I wrote to the Planning committee today after reading the report shocked at the sloppy inaccurate reports from VoG council officers. 

I wish to oppose this development and draw attention to bias and misleading inaccurate statements in the report to the planning committee. Inaccurate and misleading reports should be challenged and this application rejected again or at least the reports of council officers should be rewritten in an objective honest manner. The developers' reports are clearly biased (see that on accessibility below), making objective reports by the officers vital.    

1. The CADW report states "We do not provide an assessment of the likely impact of the development  of the development on listed buildings or conservation areas, as these are matters for the local authority.
Inline image 1

The report actually states "Cadw were consulted and having carefully considered the information provided with the planning application, confirm that the advice given in the pre-application response to LRM Planning on 13 April 2017 remains unchanged. The proposed development is located within the vicinity, c300m to the south, of the scheduled monument known as Penarth Churchyard Cross (Now in St Augustine’s Church) (GM227); as the name suggests located within the church itself. There are no other designated historic assets in the vicinity and so no historic assets will be affected." This statement in the report suggests that CADW approves the application . The CADW report is not on the Planning website  http://vogonline.planning-register.co.uk/PlaRecord.aspx?AppNo=2017/00541/FUL

2. The comments from the 'Councils Housing strategy team' are misleading. The number of units of affordable housing should be 40% = 12 which may or may not include 2 units of actual social housing and there is no explanation why onsite contributions are 'usually favoured.' or any statement of the amount. 'Contributions' are a developers massive get out clause permitting them to carry out financial viability assessments for their proposed developments, which often conclude that meeting the affordable housing targets set by local authorities would reduce their profits to a point that the scheme would be worth their while. However those assessments are kept confidential, with even Councillors unable to see them. In order to make sure schemes goes ahead, the local authorities typically reduce their targets or accept payment from the developer in lieu of the affordable homes. That money is supposed to be invested into social and community projects, or the council’s own affordable housing schemes. 
The  'Councils Housing strategy team' give no amount, however a report to the Penarth town council  put the offer at a mere £300,000. Penarth Cllr Luxton  said that “no real evidence” had been provided regarding the issue of the ground and footings which was one of the reasons which the developers had given for reducing what would ordinarily be a Section 106 payment of £1,100,000 - £679,000 should be the contribution towards social housing . On top of that should be  £209,000 for education, £29,000 for community facilities,  £68,000 for open spaces, plus another 1% for art.

The inadequate misleading statement in the report to the planning committee - 
"The Council’s Housing Strategy team were consulted and have advised that there is substantial need for housing in the Penarth area. One bedroom Two bedroom Three bedroom need Four bedroom need Penarth 261 175 68 16 There is a need more affordable housing in Penarth, and an onsite contribution is usually favoured. However on this site we would prefer to take the full off site contribution if approved by Members. The reasons for this are that it would be very difficult for a social housing landlord to manage two units within a large block of market properties and also the service charges could over time with unrestricted increases make the units unaffordable even if they were not at the point of purchase"
3. Highways response is misleading and inaccurate on 'sustainability'  They state that the councils parking standards allow for a relaxation of the site if the location has good access to local services and other modes of transport but this site has NOT good access to local services and other modes of transport and with extremely steep routes to services.  
This evaluation has been made by Vale planners contacted the developers, who submitted a “score-sheet”.  This claims that there are public facilities “within 200 metres  walking distance of the site (>two)” but FoE points out that there are none.  Headlands School is 250 metres away and that is not a public facility. The Clive Pub and Paget Road pocket park are both 300 metres walking distance away. The developers say Windsor Terrace bus stop is750 metres walking distance” away from Northcliff –  yet tracing the route on Google maps gives a distance of 850m –  which is above what is 800m maximum scoring distance. The developers’ claim for exemption from parking standards on grounds of ‘sustainability’ is wrong: their allocation of 42 parking spaces is over 21 below the “one-parking-space-per bedroom” standard (plus 1 casual visitor-space per 5 units.  The Highways statement "scores well on sustainability points" is wrong (copied/pasted from the January officers report which was challenged). The only evidence provided is the developers score-sheet shown as above to be false. How is it that the officers have brought the report to Committee without making their own check on the sustainability claims?  Let us see their own list of facilities and their own scoring as we asked in our objection.   
Highways statement in the report to the planning committee "The Council’s Parking Standards SPG require one space per bedroom, and this equates to two spaces for each of the 24 two bedroom flats and 3 spaces for the 6 larger units. Six spaces are required by the standards for visitor parking, based on a requirement of 1 space per 5 units. However, the SPG allows for a relaxation if the site is located sustainably, with good access to local services and other modes of transport. The site scores well on sustainability points due to its close proximity to bus stops, a public house, schools, a restaurant, public open space, community hall and a church. Consequently, the parking requirements are reduced in accordance with the SPG to 1 space for the 2 bedroom units and 2 spaces for the three bed units, which is a total of 42 spaces including visitors."
Proper enforcement of the Council's parking standards (as was done for the adjacent development in Mariner Heights) require 72 parking places.  These proposals are short by 30 parking spaces This shows the developer has tried to cram over-many apartments onto the site.  The failure to provide adequate parking space - and the overflow implied onto neighbouring roads - is a further reason for rejecting the application.  

4. Stunned by the 'conservation' officers report.  
He acknowledges a presumption in favour of preservation of a listed buildings settings then proceeds to ignore that advice, without any reason of "public interest" for ignoring that presumption. He fails to refer to the photomontages showing trees above the Custom House replaced by apartment blocks. He is misled by the developers assurances and perhaps the developers own report on heritage matters, which wrongly prefer English Heritage guidance than the new Welsh Guidance in force since 31 May 2017. He also ignores the contrary view of the Penarth Town Council. I would ask that the committee question the accuracy and dimensions in any photo-montages.  Look at what the controversial architect Chris Loyn has to say re the Northcliffe development for 30 flats/apartments in his own words. The priority is for extensive views ....
"Organised from a pragmatic response to the challenging site topography and an unequivocal ambition from the outset for all principal living spaces to have an extensive view out over Cardiff Bay, the three distinct linear apartment blocks step down the cliffside, allowing vistas over the lower rooftops and framing landscaped streets or mews spaces in between." 
The setting of the listed buildings, particularly Penarth's admirable Custom House, damaged forever.  

Planning Policy Wales 6.5.11 There should be a general presumption in favour of the preservation of a listed building and its setting, which might extend beyond its curtilage. For any development proposal affecting a listed building or its setting, the primary material consideration is the statutory requirement to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building, its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Northcliffe Lodge: Faulty assessment for “sustainability” of the location

Northcliffe Lodge: Faulty assessment for “sustainability” of the location
The Council planning report (5 Jan 2017 committee) shows officers willing to reduce parking spaces:
 “The Council’s Parking Standards SPG require one space per bedroom, and this equates to two spaces for each of the 23 two bedroom flats and 3 spaces for the 7 larger units. Six spaces are required by the standards for visitor parking, based on a requirement of 1 space per 5 units. However, the SPG allows for a relaxation if the site is located sustainably, with good access to local services and other modes of transport. The site scores well on sustainability points due to its close proximity to bus stops, a public house, schools, a restaurant, public open space, community hall and a church. Consequently, the parking requirements are reduced in accordance with the SPG to 1 space for the 2 bedroom units and 2 spaces for the three bed units. The development makes provision for the necessary visitor parking and each of the 30 units would be served by a single parking space. This equates to a shortfall of 7, when compared against the Council’s Parking Standards”
The Planning officer calculated 37 parking spaces – at one space per two-bed flat, 2 per 3-bed flat.  The new scheme has 24 two-bed and 6 larger; including visitor spaces (1 per 5 flats) the requirement is now said to be 42 (Highway Authority Observation Sheet, 23 June 2017).  In comparison, the original 1984 approval for 30 units (84/0206) required 55 parking spaces; that was recognised as inadequate in the adjacent Mariner Heights decision (~2005) when 1 space per bedroom plus visitor spaces at 1 per 5 units was prescribed.
The Parking Standards SPG says they follow the CSS Parking Standards 2008, but they categorised the whole north Penarth area and Penarth Haven as:
Zone 3 - Urban - Very much part of a substantial built up area with a number of basic local facilities within 400m walking distance.  (400m from the Clock reaches the top of Albert Rd).
Objective people would look at the dearth of “basic local facilities within 400m, and categorise Northcliffe and Penarth Haven as
Zone 4 - Suburban or Near Urban - This zone comprised the outer edges of the largest towns; suburban locations in towns.
The CSS Parking Standards 2008 document is restricted to CSS members, but can be found on the internet.  Its Appendix 5 has a prescription for allocating “sustainability points”, which must total 7 or more for a “sustainability” reduction.
Local facilities (a foodstore, PO, health facility, school etc.): access to two of these within a 400m walking distance scores 2points, access to more than two – 4 points.  For two within 400-800m walking distance, the score is 1 point, or for more than two - 2 points.
Access to a bus stop or railway station: 300m – 3 points; 400m – 2 points, 800m 1-point.
Frequency of public transport: if does not operate consistently between 7am and 7pm, deduct 1 point.
The planning officer states “close proximity to bus stops, a public house, schools, a restaurant, public open space, community hall and a church”.   Let’s measure distances using the google-map facility, though real distances are further than the map projection, because of the strongly sloping ground.
Bus Stops – about 100m, on Paget Place
A public house -  The Clive in John St is about 300m
Schools – the officer apparently included Headlands special school (250m), which is not available to the local public;  Albert Rd primary school is 450m.
A restaurant – the Custom House is close as the crow flies, but the walking route round by road is 450m; the Pilot on Queens Road is 500m away.
Public open space – the Paget Road play area and pocket park is 300m away
Community Hall – St Pauls is closed; Belle Vue Park hall is hardly used except by the Bowling club and for special events; it is 580m away
Church – St Augustines is 480m by the most direct route (plus some increase for the steep slopes)
Sustainability Score Within 400ma Pub and Play area -  scores 2 points. The officer wrongly included Headlands school and/or the Custom House restaurant to score 4 points.  
Within 800m, there is a school, GP surgery (unmentioned by the Planner), restaurants etc., but these still score only the two points.
Rail stations are too far away (1000m), regular buses near the roundabout are 850m away, but anyway score just 1 point – the Paget Place bus-stop scores just 2 points, because of limited hours (first bus to Cardiff workplaces is 9.25am) and no Sunday service.
Total Sustainability Score  - 4 points: does not qualify for any reduced parking spaces.   Even if the Officer included Headlands school and the Custom House restaurant within the 400m facilities, the score is only 6 points.  The Officer might have wrongly taken the bus service to meet the 7am to 7pm standard (to gross 7 points), though objectors wrote in on the point.
Walkability the steepness of hills needs to be taken into account (above assessment assumes it’s flat, when 400m is a brisk five minute walk).   The standard for high accessibility to the range of services is 10 minutes walk.  The  850m walk to the Town Centre bus-stops, foodstores is
a)      Well over 10 minutes for fit adults, due to the hill (eg. via St Augustines Cres)

b)      The very steep hill is challenging, even impossible for many elderly people or parents with laden buggies; routes avoiding the steep hills via Paget Road are much longer  to the town.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Why is Penarth Northcliffe Nightmare Development getting a second chance

REFUSED 
2015/01449/FUL  Northcliffe Lodge, Northcliffe Drive, Penarth
Demolition of existing dwelling and outbuilding, erection of 30 apartments, new access and alterations to adjacent parking area, provision of a footpath link, replacement tree planting and landscaping and associated worksCeltic Developments (Penarth) Ltd. Refused 06/01/2017 00:00:00 


DECISION TO REFUSE The proposed development is considered to be contrary to the aims of Policies HOUS2 - Additional Residential development, HOUS8 – Residential Development Criteria and ENV27 - Design of New Developments, of the Vale of Glamorgan Adopted Unitary Development Plan 1996-2011, and the advice contained within Planning Policy Wales and Technical Advice Note 12 (Design) for the following reason: It is considered that the proposed buildings are of an excessive size, massing and form and fail to have regard to the context of the site, would appear as over scaled and incongruous within the streetscene and within its coastal headland context, and would fail to either preserve or enhance the character of the nearby Conservation Area or Listed Buildings. The development would therefore be contrary to the Town and Country Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
Refused Press coverage here 

But its back - VoG Sept planning meeting. Why? disgrace this is to be discussed again. There has been no significant changes ......ignoring the wishes of Penarth Town Council 

2017/00541/FUL


Northcliffe Lodge, Northcliffe Drive, Penarth

Demolition of existing dwelling and outbuilding, erection of 30 apartments,
new access and alterations to adjacent parking area, replacement tree
planting and landscaping and associated works (resubmission application)

Controversial architect Chris Loyn Northcliffe development for 30 flats/apartments in his own words. "Organised from a pragmatic response to the challenging site topography and an unequivocal ambition from the outset for all principal living spaces to have an extensive view out over Cardiff Bay, the three distinct linear apartment blocks step down the cliffside, allowing vistas over the lower rooftops and framing landscaped streets or mews spaces in between." Just above the listed custom house. Marine Building (Grade II) and Custom House (Grade II) 3 ugly blocks of flats will replace the wooded scene behind these buildings. The gateway to Penarth altered forever.  



In spite of this being refused the 'conservation' officer says  
The 'conservation' officer considers 3 blocks
of these monstrosities will not alter the setting
 or view above the listed Custom House 
 Marine Building (Grade II) and Custom House (Grade II)
The immediate setting of these listed buildings is the former tidal estuary that led to the Penarth and Cardiff Docks. Since the construction of the Cardiff Bay Barrage this immediate setting has been altered drastically, however, the quintessential maritime character of the area remains. Behind the buildings the cliff face forms the back drop to the buildings with development above. In longer range views across Cardiff Bay the scale of the cliffs is such that this aspect of the setting of the listed building is considered negligible -??!! Seems he is ignoring Planning policy Wales Technical Advice Note 24: The Historic Environment May 2017. 

The developers are relying on this outrageous statement by the solitary so called conservation officer of VoG.                                                                                     They commissioned their own report May 2017  by consultants  Heritage Impact Assessment Prepared by: The Environmental Dimension Partnership Ltd (EDP) On behalf of: Celtic Developments Penarth Ltd May 2017 relying on English Heritage guidelines completely ignoring Planning Policy Wales new 2017 guidelines.

Where is the justiofication for the density/no of units

Why NO winter and summer studies to assess the wooded backdrop to the Custom House

Thankfully Penarth Town council oppose this yet again. There will be NO affordable housing provided although there should be 40%.  


Instead the VoG officers did a deal for £300k Lab Cllr Luxton says the going rate is much more £1.1 million plus 1% (public art). Vale officers have apparently agreed only £300k for this second application, not even scaled up for inflation, but rejigged it from the whole £300k going to ‘community facilities’ to most going to social housing (£270k instead of £670k Luxton says, but the real requirement for 40% means 12 housing units – £140k each makes £1.7million).
Why?? The officers’ £300k is based on a secret “viability report” – they normally accept the developers’ viability report without independent scrutiny. It doubtless includes notional construction costs and contingency for the difficult cliff-side site, which are essentially unknown but have been maximised. The officers do not propose a claw-back arrangement in case the secret assumptions turn out to give the developers huge profits.
What the Council should do is say the development scheme is wholly “unviable”, being unable to provide the necessary S106 funds and failing include the 40% social housing needed for developments in Penarth (under the newly adopted LDP). Good rounds for rejection, on top of ecology, landscape, heritage, land instability and all the other reasons.
Our Penarth Heritage is as risk. NOTE the Penarth Civic society have made no comment as they are cosy with the architect Chris Loyn having had him as president of the society and fail yet again to object to his inappropriate brutalist designs for Penarth.  





Monday, 7 August 2017

Building more and more houses & flats is not the answer!

Build, build, build is not the answer to the housing crisis.....
Local people most in need of a home can't afford the market price of housing, no matter how many houses are built. Lack of mortgage finance availability for first-time buyers and the weakness of this group’s income growth has been mainly responsible for the slump in the home ownership rate. Building new homes doesn't necessarily mean homes for those who need them. Given the huge inequalities in wealth, the market is more likely to furnish more second homes for some UK residents, and investment opportunities for wealthy foreigners looking for a safe haven for their money, than to provide homes for people in need. To make housing more affordable, new housing developments would have to reduce house prices in their local area. But a recent study by the LSE which looked at eight large new developments built in the last five years, found that prices in the local area did not fall after completion, and in some cases they went up.* 

And for those who can afford to buy the exemption from capital gains tax for main residences, inheritance tax breaks, a grossly unfair and regressive banding of council tax: all create powerful incentives to pour your money into a bigger house than you need, and then hold onto it. These incentives also drive up prices, by ensuring that all the gain accrues to the owner. The results include unaffordability, unsustainable levels of debt and speculative bubbles.

Before anyone points out developers have to provide a % of affordable homes, at least 50% of housing schemes failed to meet local affordable housing targets in Bristol, Bradford, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield**

Developers have a massive get out clause permitting them to carry out financial viability assessments for their proposed developments, which often conclude that meeting the affordable housing targets set by local authorities would reduce their profits to a point that the scheme would be worth their while. However those assessments are kept confidential, with even Councillors unable to see them. In order to make sure schemes goes ahead, the local authorities typically reduce their targets or accept payment from the developer in lieu of the affordable homes. That money is supposed to be invested into social and community projects, or the council’s own affordable housing schemes.


Councils are tempted into pressing for more housing as section 106 has become a primary means of funding essential public services, public parks, health centres to highways, schools to play areas. The bigger the scheme, the fatter the bounty, leading to a situation not far from legalised bribery – or extortion, depending on which side of the bargain you are on. Vastly inflated density and a few extra storeys on a tower can be politically justified as being in the public interest, if it means a handful of trees will be planted on the street. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Cardiff Bus 'Station' farce - A masterclass in incompetence

The squandering of public resources on Cardiff’s central bus station site is now becoming clear. We’re left with still higher costs for the cramped and inadequate replacement, according to the business analysis in Neil Hanratty’s Director’s report to Cabinet this week (http://cardiff.moderngov.co.uk/…/CAB_Bus%20Interchange_FINA…).
Russell Goodway and the new regime say they will deliver “a new transport interchange which will be at the heart of the Cardiff Metro”. But their plan is driven by car-parking for the BBC (217 spaces), on top of the 83-space operational car-park under the BBC-building.
Their car-park access on Saunders Road prevents its use as a bus station access (except on event-days). It forces buses to rely on the congested access from Wood St; it prevents a Metro-tram system accessing a proper ‘interchange’ via Saunders Road free of traffic congestion.
The “interchange” (no longer “world class”) has no integration with future metro-trams, no integration with the 50% of bus services that will use stops on St Mary’s Street, Custom House St, etc. and no integration with the rail station except perhaps a covered walkway.
Why persist with massive BBC car-parking atop the bus station? They decided not to put it underground, because of time and cost in moving the main water pipe. Now they say we have to meet very high costs of building it above, because supporting columns in the bus movement area are ruled out. Also, roofing over the bus station causes high pollution levels, estimated at several times the legal NO2 limit, which has forced a restriction on bus numbers.
No apologies from the Director for the concept, nor any indication of the costs of failing to deliver the BBC’s 217 parking spaces on time. What’s the cost of getting out of the lease and scrapping this stupid commuter car-parking in Central Square? Replacements if needed can go south of Central Station.
Why propose to make a bad scheme viable by switching to student accommodation towers? The area was supposed to be an Enterprise Zone with special incentives for financial and business services.https://businesswales.gov.wales/…/about-central-cardiff-ent…. So quickly has that prospectus turned sour ! No subsidies to student bedsits!
Let’s see a focus on “a new transport interchange at the heart of the Cardiff Metro”, drop spec developments of offices or student bed-sits and go for the basics.