Local expert weighs in on Aldi proposal

Local expert weighs in on Aldi proposal

A local resident who works as an adviser in the development industry has contacted us with their thoughts on the proposed Aldi development off Caerphilly Road.

We don’t normally publish at such length or anonymously, but such rare expert insight seemed valuable and worth making an exception for.

The following is a slightly edited version of their submission. It does not reflect the views of Rhiwbina Info.

Aldi has undertaken a leaflet drop announcing its intention to submit a planning application for a new store on the front part of the site. This is a preliminary stage designed to gather support in advance of the pre-application process and the actual submission of an application.

Residents should be aware that if they feel strongly in favour or against the proposal, the most effective way of conveying your opinion is to write to the planning officer when the planning application is actually submitted, but by all means respond when the consultation stage begins.

Before complaining about traffic generation you should be aware that the existing use of the site, namely factory and filling station with shop has not been abandoned and if no planning permission is forthcoming there is the potential for reuse for something similar or worse (for adjoining neighbours), a further period of vacancy with the risk of further vandalism.

Aldi proposes development of the front part of the site only – leaving the rear part development uncertain, whereas in my view a comprehensive application for the whole site should only be put before the planning authority.

Both parts ( which are in separate ownership) have been derelict for over 15 years and a complete solution to a problem site need to be found, not a piecemeal one.

In addition traffic generation from both parts needs to be considered and a combined junction designed and built so that there is no subsequent road works if the site is developed in phases. Development of the front part will impact on the design and proximity of any buildings on the rear part, so there are many reasons why a comprehensive scheme needs to be put forward.

If and when a planning application is submitted, I will be highlighting the above and reminding highway officers that over the next 15 years, 6,000 houses will be built in North Cardiff between Lisvane and Pontprennau on strategic sites in the adopted local plan. Caerphilly Road is a principal thoroughfare into the city, and that will not change. It is, however, already up to capacity in peak times and the recent provision of bus lanes has only marginally improved the flow for buses, taxis and cycles over very short distances.

A proportion of the further 6,000 houses will use Caerphilly Road, and any use of the site that compounds the current and future traffic issues must be carefully considered. Please bear in mind that you can only comment on the proposal that is the subject of the application: it is no good saying that you want it turned into a park or housing, as that is not what will be proposed.

There is a potential plus side to any development here and one which the city council should grab with both hands, namely planning obligations to improve local facilities.

Over the last 20 years there have been many housing and commercial developments in the area. In all of these developments the planning authority negotiated financial contributions for on- and off-site community improvements.

The on-site provision of patches of open space within these developments are too small for any practical recreation and none has a playing pitch. The council needs to secure developer contributions, and I will be suggesting that it uses the money to improve Hill Snook Park. This large area is badly drained and the main field is too boggy for playing sports. The council has seen fit not to cut grass at the Ty Wern Road frontage, one of the few parts of the park where unsupervised play is overlooked and therefore safe.

The council removed the swings in the park in 2005 on health and safety grounds.  The council needs to seize this opportunity to extract planning gain from any proposed development at the former Phoenix works so please don’t just complain about traffic – Caerphilly Road is vey busy and is going to get busier, whether or not this site is developed.