Thursday, 31 March 2011


The Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, Ms. Jane Davidson AM, has published her decision on the second public inquiry into Western Power's scheme to build up to 324 houses and flats on the site of Llanishen reservoir. She rejected Western Power's appeal which means that the development should not go ahead. Surprisingly, the Planning Inspector appointed to consider the appeal, Mr. R.M. Poppleton, recommended that the development should be allowed.  However, the Minister disagreed with the Inspector's conclusions and therefore did not accept his recommendation.
Just to recap, the fourth planning application by Western Power set out to drain the majority of Llanishen reservoir and just to build houses in the reservoir bowl itself. As the embankments would have been left largely intact, this overcame one of the problems which scuppered the previous application: namely the damage caused to the rare grassland fungi found on the reservoir embankments. The developers argued that building in the bowl would also reduce dramatically the visual impact of the development. Access was proposed via a road across the Nant Fawr meadows and also, late-in-the-day, another option was presented at the inquiry which involved traffic accessing the site solely from Lisvane Road.
The inspector paid special attention to the following points in his report:
  1. The implications of the proposals for the quality, integrity and coherence of this part of the Nant Fawr open space corridor.
  2. The implications of the proposals for sailing and sail training facilities
  3. The implications for the Llanishen reservoir and related Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs)
  4. The implications of the proposed access options to serve the development.
In very brief summary his main conclusions were that:
  1. The loss of space in the Nant Fawr corridor would be compensated by land around the reservoir which would be opened to public access, that the reservoir itself did not define the Nant Fawr corridor's character and function, and that there would be no great visual impact from the development. He also pointed out that the Nant Fawr corridor was also crossed by roads such as Rhyd-y-Penau Road, and therefore the road across the meadows would not make much difference to the coherence of the corridor.
  2. As far as sailing goes, the inspector considered that most sail training took place at Cardiff Bay where the facilities were superior. He concluded that the existing reservoir does not provide, and is not used for, a wide range of sail and sail training facilities. He thought that the reduced lake of 5.9 ha proposed in the application (as opposed to the current 23.8 ha) would still provide a useful introductory sail training facility.
  3. The inspector thought that the impact on the biodiversity interest of Llanishen reservoir itself would not be very great and that the proposed improvements to Lisvane reservoir and the created wetland would outweigh any harm caused by the development.
  4. The inspector was persuaded that allowing access to and from the development via Lisvane Road was not a good idea, and he concluded that the only acceptable option was for all private car traffic to use the access road across the meadows and to join Rhyd-y-Penau Road at the roundabout where it meets Cyncoed Road.
The Minister accepted some of the inspector's conclusions but not others. She agreed with his conclusions on the sailing and the environmental impact on the Llanishen reservoir SINC. She also agreed that private traffic should not use the proposed Lisvane Road entrance either in its entirety or in part. However, she disagreed with the inspector's conclusion that the road crossing the meadows would have little impact on the open space around the meadows. She also thought that the development, while not being visually intrusive from further away, would have a substantial impact on people using Lisvane reservoir and the Llanishen reservoir lake. Her main concerns, however, focused on the integrity and coherence of the Nant Fawr green corridor in its entirety, which stretches from the open countryside North of Cardiff, via Roath Park, towards the City Centre. She considered that the proposed development would constitute a considerable urbanisation of an important area of open space, and that it did not warrant overriding the existing Council policies of protecting the open space river corridors in Cardiff. She therefore dismissed the appeal and refused to grant outline planning permission for the development.
It is encouraging to see that the Welsh Assembly Government has adhered to the democratically established planning policies of Cardiff Council in coming to their decision!