Greenfield land in Cardiff threatened with housing development. Photo: Chris Brown, Cardiff Friends of the Earth
On Monday 31 October Cardiff Council announced that the Local Development Plan (LDP) would be delayed for 12 months.
October was the deadline for Cardiff Council to submit the LDP Preferred Strategy to the Welsh Government. This planning document includes how many homes are built in the city and where they would be located.
The plan now won’t reach this stage until October 2012. The council says that more work needs to be carried out to ensure the plan “passes the test of soundness.” The council withdrew it’s last attempt at an LDP last year after Welsh Government planning inspectors raised issues about the council’s policy not to allocate any greenfield land for development.
Welsh Government figures forecast Cardiff’s population will grow 42 per cent by 2033 – the second highest of any local authority in England or Wales. This would mean almost 55,000 new homes being built in the city by 2026.
But new statistics by demographic experts Edge Analytics suggest the capital’s population will increase by about 26 per cent. This would mean constructing 5,000 new homes.
Cardiff Friends of the Earth believe the housing forecast by the Welsh Government is out of date. They published it in June 2008 when the local economy was booming. Now the cold winds of recession have arrived Cardiff's economy is struggling. Once the economic recovery starts, the population growth may even reverse as people move to other areas in search of work.
The Welsh Government's suggestion that we build on the few remaining greenfield sites in Cardiff is causing a feeding frenzy among developers as they try to get the farmland they own included in the city's housing allocation.
We believe that the solution to this problem is using the “city region” approach to planning used in other parts of the UK. Neighbouring local authorities – including Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf have brownfield sites available for development. If they provided some of Cardiff’s housing and new business needs, this would boost their local economies. It would also avoid many people to commuting to Cardiff each day reducing the strain on the transport network.