Too Precious To Lose

09/08/2019

With Caerphilly Council's planning committee meeting next week to consider plans to develop 600 homes on green fields at Gwern y Domen, Plaid councillor Skeve Skivens makes a plea 

Caerphilly Council’s motto is a greener place and I, as a resident. have witnessed the change from an industrialised area to a much more semi-rural place to live, work and bring up a family over the last 60 years. Swathes of the past industrial waste and buildings have been cleared.

But what appals me know is that the current Labour- controlled council seem to want to throw it all away and build on green field sites throughout the lower Caerphilly area.

Even when educated and honest planning officers recommend that schemes are not supported, we seem to end up with them through an undemocratic back door procedure involving people who are not elected and have no relationship with the people that such plans impact upon.

The current Local Development Plan, (LDP) in place points the clear finger at redevelopment of brownfield sites but why are green field sites continuously targeted? Who is in charge: the council officers, the elected representatives, communities or the developers themselves?

We have seen the over-exuberant replacement LDP withdrawn and the council told to think again.

Who are all these extra houses for, there are many premises empty in the area and many underutilised? What are we offering people who are crammed into a developed area? Perhaps it’s a promise of a greener place, but often the reality differs. Shortage of school, dentist and doctors’ places, traffic congestion, long commutes, overcapacity on leisure facilities and the huge environmental impacts.

I hear the comments regularly about safeguarding the area, culture and sustainability for future generations, however ,what I see is an absence of any real strategic approach and short term almost knee jerk reactions too issues arising.

There are areas of Caerphilly County Borough Council area who would welcome some development and to rid themselves of scars of the industrial age, but why is it that the lower end closest to Cardiff always seems under pressure? It is the developers’ wishes showing through again and again, for the most lucrative venues.

We see a Greater Cardiff Plan being developed with the potential for improved public transport yet a housing development of a green field site at Gwern y Domen, Caerphilly cuts through a dismantled railway on the potential transport links rein statements.

Such a site highlights the many issues of concern. The site has leisure, landscape and visual impacts, environmental, ecology and bio-diversity, aesthetic, archaeological and heritage impacts, traffic management, agricultural impact, infrastructure issues yet it is still being looked at for over 600 homes. Even against wide public dis-satisfaction.

These green field sites are too precious to lose, when they are gone that’s it we cant easily reinstate them.

We have in CCBC area not only the impacts of climate emergency emerging, for example, residents at Hafodyrynys hill can vouch for that! But an absence of strategic thinking and short term fixes.

The ruling Labour group must start listening or our greener place will be grey and dirty again. There is none so deaf as those that will not listen I’m afraid.

Councillor Steve Skivens, Plaid Cymru, Penyrheol, Trecenydd and Energlyn ward