Cardiff Council are at it again

Cardiff Council are at it again.  No doubt some of the regular readers of this blog will know intuitively what this means, as we have written before on their – to put it kindly – cavalier approach to planning with respect to the wishes of the community, green open spaces, the built environment, and common sense and decency to boot.  It is also no surprise that some of their wilder plans are being put in place for a part of the city that has consistently been silenced and damaged through these processes, as far as the 1960s; we are referring of course to the communities of Tiger Bay and the Docks.  The latest round of soul-destroying plans include a Military Medicine Museum for Britannia Park and the outlandish idea of buying (for a cool £30 million) – then flattening – the Red Dragon centre in order to build what now appears as an even more bizarre proposition in the age of Covid and zoom meetings – an outsized indoor arena (when, moreover, there’s a similar facility down the road by Celtic Manor).

The latest proposition is on a somewhat smaller scale but is no less galling for that – it reflects all that is awful about the way in which this council goes about its business.  The Paddle Steamer, an iconic establishment in Loudoun square, now faces demolition off the back of a development that has seen no engagement with the local community, and barely any response to the valid objections already presented in the pre-consultation phase.  The plan for social housing units is to be welcomed, in an age where councils across Wales have failed miserably in maintaining a stock of council housing, resulting in mass exploitation through private rents as well as homelessness.  However, in an area constantly deprived of the amenities taken for granted in other parts of the city, there seems to have been little thought given to what it means to build these units without any space for a business such as the Paddle Steamer, and other services besides.  The cafe is a hub for the Somali and Yemeni communities, young and old, and whilst the building and its environs are ripe for reconstruction, its demolition will come as a huge blow to many of those who use it for various purposes – including informal and pro-bono advice on some of the most difficult matters facing members of the community.

This is why Reclaim Cardiff is calling on everyone who is concerned, in Cardiff and beyond, to support the campaign of local residents.  This is just the latest example of council practices that affect people up and down the country – processes that show little regard or respect for people and their communities, little appetite for understanding what they need, and an attitude that results in developments that are destructive for the fragile ecology of many of our communities.  This particular episode is all the more pernicious, happening as it is to communities and minorities subjected to repeated structural violence, and this at a time when Cardiff Council is indulging in a huge song and dance about removing Picton’s statue and creating a BAME taskforce to give voice to those very communities.  The hypocrisy at work takes the council into new, unchartered territories, even by their low standards.

All that need happen here is that the communities in question are treated with respect and on the basis of equality; that they are engaged with, their needs given consideration, and the development adjusted in ways that answers the requirements of all concerned. So please take two minutes to fill out this form which will allow you to send an automated objection to the council; you are free also to reword the objection in any way you see fit.  Alternatively you can register your personal objection here.

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