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Disappointment as Cardiff Parkway planning hearing reopens

Cardiff Parkway view from the platform (Pic: Wilkinson Eyre)

DEVELOPERS behind plans for a new railway station and business park in Cardiff said they are disappointed with the delays in getting the project off the ground caused by the reopening of a planning hearing.

A planning hearing that looked at whether the plans for Cardiff Parkway Station and a business park earmarked for land south of St Mellons Business Park complied with local and national development plans concluded in July 2023.

The planning hearing will be reopened on January 16 after the Welsh Government decided that the scheme merited being looked over again after key changes were made to planning policy in October 2023.

A Cardiff Parkway spokesperson said: “Throughout the extensive planning process for Cardiff Parkway, we have remained convinced that Cardiff, and south Wales more broadly, stands to benefit significantly from major investment in transport infrastructure and new jobs that a new station and sustainable business district would bring.

“The transit oriented development will be connected across the region and can accommodate growing businesses in one location, which businesses are recognising already.

“As such we are disappointed that the process has been extended again, especially as we know that many people want quicker progress.

“We are hopeful that the next examination will finally reassure decision makers sufficiently so they may permit us to begin delivery of this much needed development.”

The fields in St Mellons where the Cardiff Parkway station is planned (Pic: Alex Seabrook)

Key changes made by the Welsh Government to Planning Policy Wales included a greater emphasis on the protection of green spaces and biodiversity and a strengthened approach to the protection of sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs).

Another aspect of the Cardiff Parkway development that the planning inspector looked at in July was the impact it could have on the Rumney and Peterstone SSSI.

Friends of the Gwent Levels said they were not convinced by the offer of compensation land in mitigation by the developers, claiming that the development would still put biodiversity in the area at risk.

The friends group said it welcomes the decision to reopen the hearing.

A map of the proposed Cardiff Parkway development (Pic: Arup)

A statement from the group reads: “The recent changes to Planning Policy Wales mean that building on a Site of Special Scientific Interest can now happen only in wholly exceptional circumstances.

“We do not believe that another business park in close proximity to existing business parks constitutes ‘wholly exceptional circumstances,’ especially as there are currently literally hundreds of thousands of square feet of empty, unused office space in Cardiff.

“The Welsh Government has quite rightly tightened protection for our precious natural sites.

“The Planning Inspector will now revisit the application and consider it in the light of these new, much more stringent restrictions.

“It was already inconceivable for most people that anyone could be allowed to pour concrete on SSSIs and we hope that these new hearings will be an opportunity for the Planning Inspector to determine that in our current climate and nature emergencies it is now absolutely impossible for developers to build a car park and office blocks on a fragile and complex ecosystem such as the Gwent Levels.”

The planning hearing will take place at County Hall on Tuesday January 16 from 10am.

After the hearing has concluded, the planning inspector will submit another report to Welsh ministers for consideration.