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Protection of historic Cardiff velodrome depends on new school land deal

The Maindy Park Trust Advisory Committee decided to make a recommendation to Cardiff Council's cabinet for a proposed land swap, which could pave the way for the Cathays High expansion, to go ahead (Pic: Ted Peskett)

THE PROTECTION of a historic Cardiff velodrome is not guaranteed if a land deal to change the development site of a new school goes ahead, according to a council leader.

Cardiff Council’s leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, was asked at a recent scrutiny committee meeting about the future of a proposed new velodrome planned for Grangetown amid discussions between the council and Companies House over the later’s Cathays offices.

If the offices, on Crown Way, can be secured it would offer an alternative solution to using Maindy Park for the expansion of the adjacent Cathays High.

Campaigners have been fighting to protect Maindy Velodrome, situated at Maindy Park, for years.

Cllr Thomas said the answer to whether or not plans to build a new velodrome in the International Sports Village (ISV) would progress in light of discussions with Companies House “depends on the availability” of their offices and added that nothing could be ruled out at this stage.

He said: “It is worth also acknowledging that the delivery of a velodrome at the ISV is progressively more challenging in the economic climate created post mini budget.”

Cardiff Council confirmed in January, 2024, that it is engaging with the UK Government’s property unit over the future of the Crown Way offices.

As part of it’s budget setting process for the upcoming 2024/25 financial year, the council plans to re-affirms its commitment to a five-year capital programme.

This includes a range one off investments for various projects and schemes, like a new indoor arena for Cardiff Bay and the ISV.

A member of the economy and culture scrutiny committee, Cllr Rodney Berman, asked the leader to clarify if the local authority’s capital allocation still included money to construct a new velodrome at the ISV.

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Cllr Thomas said: “I think Cllr Goodway has always been of the opinion and made statements to the effect that there is an education contribution to the relocation of the velodrome and there would certainly be a logical expectation if the school was redeveloped on a different site in Cathays without a loss of the Maindy site, then the business case for a velodrome at the ISV doesn’t necessarily stack up.

“I think that always needs to be tested and I think there would always be an opportunity that would be worth exploring in terms of a new velodrome.”

The council’s plan to expand Cathays High would involve land at Maindy Park, owned by a charity of which the council is the sole trustee, being swapped with land at Caedelyn Park in Rhiwbina.

However, this would need to be approved by the Charity Commission who are still in the process of reviewing the council’s application.

Cllr Thomas added: “Equally, you could build a new velodrome at the ISV and you could return the land at Maindy to a park without any impact on the trust conditions on that site because it would continue as public open space, but I think we are getting ahead of ourselves.

“I think the first bridge to cross is finalising the position with adjacent sites to the school in Cathays.

“If they prove doable then ultimately, that is good news for the school.

“However, our commitment is to build a new school in Cathays High and if that still requires a relocation of the velodrome, then that is what we will continue with.”

Cllr Berman highlighted that campaigners opposed to the school expansion plans in their current form were “quite keen to see the velodrome retained”.

He added: “I suppose they would like some commitment that if the council was able to go ahead with building Cathays High elsewhere that the relocation of the velodrome wouldn’t then proceed, but I think what I am taking is that you are not quite ruling anything in or ruling anything out at this stage.”

Cllr Thomas said: “You take that correctly and I think it is also worth remembering as well, there is a large constituency who want, regardless of location, to see cycling facilities in the city improved and there is certainly no guarantee that could be delivered without relocating the velodrome.

“If we end up going down a certain route, then I think we have to give consideration to how do you address that aspiration as well.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) asked the council’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Chris Weaver,  in an interview this month whether any money had been set aside in the capital programme as part of the potential deal.

He said: “I don’t think the terms and details have been agreed on that, but we are in discussion because government has indicated that it could become available.

“We don’t have definitive news on that, but it is something we are actively examining and yes, that would be funded from that school building programme.”