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Housebuilding and services are most important issues for Cardiff North residents

Housebuilding and the future of services were among the most important issues for people in areas of Cardiff North, like Llanishen, ahead of the 2024 elections (Pic: Google Maps)

PEOPLE in Cardiff’s northern suburbs are concerned about the level of housebuilding and the future of vital services there.

Many people to the north of Wales’ capital call their communities villages first rather than merely suburbs of a growing city.

It is hard not to see this yourself when standing in places like Rhiwbina, Llanishen and Lisvane where you are surrounded by leafy residential streets, quiet church yards and rolling green hills to the north.

However, the growing need for housing across the city and the increasing number of housing developments springing up tell a different story.

We spoke to people in the streets of Llanishen and Rhiwbina ahead of the upcoming general election on Thursday, July 4, to ask people what they thought of their area and what things they would like to see change.

“There is quite a bit going at the top of Lisvane,” said Paul, 57, about housebuilding where he lives.

In Llanishen itself, 250 homes and 70 retirement apartments were originally planned for where the old HMRC offices are on Ty Glas Road, but this scheme was later withdrawn.

Buildings on the site are still in the process of being demolished.

On the potential for future housebuilding in the area, Paul added: “I don’t know if the road infrastructure is there to be honest.”

He said the area could do with more schools and surgeries to account for the higher demand for services that could come with the construction of new homes.

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In February, 2023, plans for 2,500 homes on land south of the M4 between Lisvane and Pontprennau were approved.

The development will surround the Churchlands housing scheme nearby which involves the construction of 1,000 homes, a primary school and a village centre.

Looking towards the bottom of Station Road, Paul said added: “It’s quite small. If everything is going to come through here, it is going to make it very busy.”

As part of Cardiff Council’s new blueprint for future development, known as the replacement local development plan (RLDP), candidate sites were put forward by developers, landowners and other interested parties.

One of the sites put forward was land to the west of Graig Road and north of the M4 in Lisvane.

The candidate sites that have been put forward are just proposals at this stage and a consultation on the RLDP will take place in autumn, 2024.

Further to the west and in a different constituency, but not too far away, is the ongoing housing development called Plasdwr which will eventually deliver 7,000 homes.

Another resident on Station Road in Llanishen told us he thought that development would be a “disaster for the road system”.

The resident, who wished to remain anonymous, did add that people in the city needed somewhere to live.

Cardiff, as with other cities across the UK is facing a serious housing crisis with more than 1,000 people in temporary and emergency accommodation, 122 families living in hotels and 595 families in standard temporary provision.

The man we spoke to had just come out of his local bank. The threat to services like high street banks are a big concern to him.

He said: “I was waiting there 20 minutes and there is still a queue now. They [banks] are flourishing. I don’t trust going online. I am 71… I have had people ringing up trying to scam me.

“I would rather have face to face contact knowing that… things are being done properly.”

The Llanishen branches of Lloyds, and Barclays have closed in recent years and one woman who has lived in Llanishen for 10 years said there was now only one cash machine in walking distance for many people in the area who were less able bodied.

“If this bank closes, we wont have a cash point anymore,” said the 71-year-old woman who also did not want to be named. Sainsburys is a bus ride away for people.”

She also mentioned that there was a cash point at Morrisons, adding: “[It is] not a walk away. I can get down there, but I am relatively fit.

Transport was also an issue raised by residents. Adventure Travel stopped operating its 86 service, which ran between University of Wales Hospital and Llanishen, this year.

The service, which also took passengers on to Lisvane and Thornhill was later absorbed into the Cardiff Bus 29 service route.

However, many residents on some streets where the service used to stop at felt left behind by the change.

As well as being the least densely populated area of the city, the north of Cardiff also has the highest concentration of older people according to the 2021 Census.

Data from the Census showed that 29.3% of people in Rhiwbina and Pant-mawr were 65 or over, making it the area with the highest percentage of people in that age category in the city.

Lisvane (26%) was not far behind. In Whitchurch, 25.5% of the population was 65 and over at the time of the Census.

Other areas in the city outside of Cardiff North that rivalled these figures included Cyncoed north (25.4%), Pen-y-lan north (26%) and Llandaff and Danescourt (23.5%).

When we visited Rhiwbina, resident Marilyn Parker admitted that where she had lived for the past 31 years had changed, but said it was a “lovely place to live”.

Marilyn, 76, said she was still concerned about the state of the services on offer more generally.

The former NHS worker said: “I do worry about [the health service]. I don’t think there will be an NHS in years to come, but I do understand that the money isn’t there.

“There is a lot of money wasted on the NHS and what I don’t understand is they can’t pay nurses and doctors proper wages.

“I am not a business person, but it does seem unfair and they work their socks off in the NHS, but the only thing is, if you need it… and you have to wait months… you could go private.

“But, not everyone can afford to go privately.”

Foundation junior doctors in Wales can recieve between £28,471 and £39,933 according to the British Medical Association.

The salary for an NHS nurse working in Wales can be anything from £29,000 to £51,000.

According to the Welsh Government website, the wage for a band 5 nursing role is between £29,000 and £35,000.

Another woman who lives in Fairwater, but works as a teaching assistant in Rhiwbina, called the area “lovely”, but also expressed fears over the future of the health service.

Cindy Morgan, 61, said education and the state of the NHS are important issues to her in the lead up to the general election (Pic: Ted Peskett)

Cindy Morgan, 61, said: “Education is massive for me and also the health service. I think I might have to use it at some point.

“It scares me that I might not be able to use it.”

On education, she added: “There are always issues… with not enough staff and there are shortages. They are not replacing staff.”

Ms Parker also said she would like there to be more of a focus on education and schools, especially with more people moving to Cardiff North.

She said: “[One of the] other issues we have got is schools. I don’t think schools have been looked after.

“I just don’t understand.

“It is important for our children to have good education.”

“I grew up in Birchgrove and Rhiwbina has always been an elderly area, but there are youngsters moving in. It is nice.”

Speaking about the area more generally, she said: “It is a lovely place to live… we count ourselves very lucky.”

Cardif North is one of many Parliamentary seats in Wales where the boundaries have changed ahead of the general election on Thursday, July 4.

The only seat in Wales that hasn’t changed is Ynys Mon (the island of Anglesey). Wales will go from having 40 seats to 32.

Cardiff North now includes 4.7% of the Pontypridd seat and 0.1% of Cardiff South and Penarth.

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