Wednesday, 23 September 2015

August 2015 update...

Mid-August email from Cllr Phil Bale, who's been working behind the scenes to move things on.  We're trying to set up a meeting with the new Parks Planning Manager....


Hi David,

Hope you’re well.  I’ve chased for an update which is below.

All the best,

-----Original Message-----
From: Gregory, Andrew
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 12:29 PM GMT Standard Time
To: Bale, Phil (Cllr)
Cc: Patel, Ramesh (Cllr); Wakelam, Matthew
Subject: FW: Former AWE Site, Llanishen


Re your query re AWE overall v positive news:

1: We are advised by the Chief Parks Officer that these works have now been completed.

2: A minimum 12 month maintenance period will now be required prior to the land being transferred to the Council in order to ensure that the new drainage system is operating satisfactorily and that the new soiling/planting has been able to properly establish itself i.e. both need to satisfactorily survive a full winter prior to the Council accepting future maintenance responsibility.

3: During that period a detailed site inspection will be undertaken and any defective items will have to be remedied to the Council’s satisfaction – and I understand that this is likely to entail the replacement of some the trees. Assuming that no significant problems arise during that period then I’d anticipate that the legal transfer of the land to the Council should be achieved by July/August 2016.

4: However, the transfer of the lower area of open space constructed by Barratts i.e. the area containing the play area and the proposed Community Garden, should be achieved in the near future. These works have been completed to the required standard and the transfer of this area to the Council is currently in the hands of the respective solicitors.

5: Finally, for clarification with regards to the issue of the highway drains which for so long delayed the adoption of the roads, the developers were unable (or unwilling) to come to an agreement with Dwr Cymru to resolve the issues that had prevented the drains being properly adopted. They’ve instead completed a legally-binding Drainage Agreement with the Council under the terms of which they’re committed to maintain the drains privately i.e. they’ll effectively act in lieu of Welsh Water.



Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Another update from Cardiff Council...

My Ref / Fy Ref: CM27739
Date: 03 July 2014

Dear David
Cardiff Neighbourhood Fund - Round 2 Now Open For Submissions

I refer to your message to Cllr Bale dated 05 June 2014 relating to the proposed remedial works to the area of open space adjacent to the Bellway / Persimmon development at Tatham Road / Mostyn Square.

The developers have previously submitted a programme for these works, together with the required highway remedial works. The latter are already under way and are expected to be completed by mid July - with adoption of the roads to follow shortly afterwards.

A scheme to address the drainage problems associated with the area of open space has also been submitted and has been approved in principle. These works are going to take rather longer than the highway works though. They are currently still out to tender (though these are due back shortly) and are expected to commence in mid July with completion due by the end of August. However, mindful of the complexity of the problem which they're intended to address, and the consequent uncertainty with regards to the proposed solution, the area of open space won't be considered for adoption by the Council until a further 12 months minimum have elapsed following their completion. In other words the Council needs to assess the performance of the new drainage system to be installed within the open space over the course of a British winter before taking over responsibility for it.

A further consideration is that these works do not cover the portion of the open space adjacent to Smith Road/Malvern Drive which was previously provided by Barratts - and which is the intended location for the proposed Community Garden. As you'll be aware there are also drainage problems associated with this area - though it's always been assumed that this is largely due to water running off from the Bellway / Persimmon site, and that this will therefore be alleviated by the new drainage system which they're going to install.
You should therefore be aware of the above timescale in terms of any bid for funding under the above scheme to create a Community Garden. You should also be aware that there may be the potential for match funding from the Section 106 contributions secured in conjunction with the proposed residential developments at Chiltern Close and the Travis Perkins site (though the latter hasn't yet received formal planning consent). You may wish to liaise with Ian Maddox (Parks Services) who's been dealing with this aspect of these developments.

I trust this information is of assistance.
Yours sincerely, Yn gwyir, 

Councillor / Y Cynghorydd Ramesh Patel
Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning & Sustainability Aelod Cabinet dros Drafnidiaeth, Cynllunio a Chynaladwyedd

Cc Councillor Phil Bale 

PLEASE REPLY TO / ATEBWCH I: Cabinet Support Office / Swyddfa Cymorth Y Cabinet,
Room / Ystafell 518, County Hall / Neuadd y Sir,
Atlantic Wharf / Glanfa’r Iwerydd, Cardiff / Caerdydd,
CF10 4UW Tel / Ffon (029) 2087 2479

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The latest from Cardiff Council...

Well, January 2014 marks FOUR years since we began to pull local people together to establish a community garden.  

Slow but sure wins the race, according to the fable, but not, it seems, in this case.

The public open space remains INCOMPLETE and unadopted, the children's play area STILL floods, the upper pathway STILL isn't in place, the trees STILL don't look healthy, the railings that reportedly fell on a child HAVEN'T been replaced, the upper section grass STILL hasn't been relaid, the lower section is STILL boggy in wet weather; the list goes on.

Our local Councillor, Phil Bale, has been working hard in support of local residents to resolve this ridiculous situation and the text from two January 2014 letters from senior Councillors follows in this post - one about the highways and one about the open space.  We're VERY grateful to Phil for his work.

Three of Britain's biggest house developers have FAILED miserably to deliver one modestly sized area of open space.  They've FAILED to make good the promises they made when we bought their houses.  They've FAILED to honour the pledges they made to council officials and residents that certain works would be carryed out within certain timescales.  They've FAILED to meet their obligations to the planning authority.  

I've heard local residents use words like 'shambolic', 'evasive', 'betrayal', 'dangerous', 'unacceptable', 'disgraceful', 'laughable' and 'lamentable', but also 'legal action', 'hand wringing', 'platitudes' 'untruthful' and 'council tax reductions'.  Not a good advert for private sector efficiency - or in fact for that matter, public sector accountability.

If it hadn't been for Phil, we wouldn't even know this much; senior council officers have so far appeared UNWILLING to meet local residents about ths issue.  We're hoping this will change soon.

It's all clearly rocket science:
  • design a public open space between a load of new houses on brownfield land that's been throughly surveyed and tested,
  • build those houses and undertake the necessary groundworks to ensure a viable and safe open space is available for those residents by the time the estates are at 50% occupancy, 
  • ensure that drainage is adequate by agreeing standards and infrastructure with Welsh Water in advance,
  • avoid burying builders's rubble and other detritus under the earth and watch out for people with video cameras,
  • lay deep enough topsoil to sustain playing field standard grass,
  • plant appropriately hardy trees to the agreed specification so that all the lines meet up and they don't die,
  • install playground and sporting equipment that can be used safely,
  • install perimeter railings that are safe and that provide a unified aspect (not the scaffolding pole nonsense at the top then),
  • install access gates in the right place,
  • put topsoil and grass over any areas of aggregate that might have been installed to ameliorate drainage failings,
  • install dog/litter bins outside the children's play area,
  • maintain dialogue with local residents.
And do you know, all this time, not one developer has made contact with the Community Garden group, apart from one one-line email to note that a key member of staff was off sick. 

Please give Phil and the Community Garden group all your support as we continue the slow trudge towards that beautiful shared place in the heart of our communities....



My Ref: CM25351

Date: 6th January 2014

Dear Phil

AWE Site

Thank you for your e-mail dated 16 November 2013 in respect of the above, your comments and concerns are understood. I apologise for the delay in responding to you.

I agree that local residents have been badly let down by the developers, and the Council has looked into the possibility of taking enforcement action. However, based on legal advice received on similar matters in the past, taking legal action through the Courts would be an expensive undertaking for the Council. Given that the open space has been laid out, albeit not very satisfactorily, I feel that the likelihood of achieving a satisfactory outcome would be very unlikely with potential of placing the Council at a financial risk.

We will continue to apply pressure on the developers to complete their works, and we are also considering a request from one of the developers that they make a financial sum available to the Council to complete the outstanding works on the basis that the land transfer could then proceed without delay; a decision with regards to this will be reached shortly I am informed. In the meantime, Officers have written to Persimmon asking for a timetable as to when they will implement the drainage and other remedial works to their area of open space.

In the future, and in order to avoid a recurrence of this situation, we are considering several options including ensuring that the requirement to provide open space is closely tied into planning conditions to enable enforcement to take place, requiring a bond which could be used by the Council in the event that a developer defaults on its obligations, and developing a mechanism by which developers provide open space initially to a basic standard but with a financial sum which could be used to develop facilities in line with the requirements of the emerging community. The latter is more aspirational in nature and is something I propose to explore following the adoption of the LDP.

I would advise that the set of circumstances relating to this particular development is relatively unique and has presented a challenge to a number of service areas across the Council and does not necessarily reflect the norm in respect of public open space adoptions across the board.

I trust the above information is of assistance.

Yours sincerely,


Cabinet Support Office, Room 520, County Hall, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff CF10 4UW Tel (029) 2087 2479


My Ref: CM26297

Date: 8th January 2014

Dear Phil

Former Selco/AWE Sites

I write in response to your enquiry of 2 December 2013 and apologise for the delay in responding. Both I and my Officers share the frustration of yourself and the residents at this development with regards to the slow pace or progress in terms of addressing the many outstanding issues. Though Officers continue to press the developers (BeIlway and Persimmon Homes) in this respect I'm afraid that these are matters which are largely outside the Council's control.

As you'll be aware from previous correspondence and meetings there are issues relating to the adoption of both the roads and the area of public open space by the Council, and to the adoption by Welsh Water of the surface water drains - with these issues being both complex and inter-related.

The essential stumbling block of course has been that of the adoption of the drains by Welsh Water - with this matter itself involving 2 separate issues. It would seem that the most intractable of these i.e. the drainage of the open space, has now been resolved with acceptance by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) of the proposed solution of drilling through the capped layer of contaminated material beneath the open space. My understanding is that this has now opened the way to a resolution of the second issue i.e. reaching an agreement with the owner of the land containing the length of drain which discharges into the adjacent watercourse.

I've asked the developers for an up-date of the current position but have yet to receive a reply. Once a reply has been received of course advise you accordingly.

In your message you ask what legal or enforcement action the Council can take to bring matters to a conclusion - though I'm afraid it's not that simple. As you're aware there is no signed Section 38 highways agreement at present, and so the roads remain entirely private and the responsibility of the developers - though the intention remains on both sides that the agreement will be completed, and the roads adopted, in due course.

By definition a Section 38 'agreement' is just that i.e. the Council can't insist that a road be offered for adoption. If a developer chooses to keep the roads on a development private then that is very much their right - although then it is they rather than the Council who will remain responsible for their maintenance. Though there are a number items outstanding in terms of bringing the works up to adoption standard e.g. the speed reducing measures on Ashbourn Way and the footpath link to Watkins Square, in general terms residents have a reasonable standard of vehicular and pedestrian access to their homes. There's no action that the Council can take that would have any practical benefit in terms of resolving the issues between the developers and Welsh Water - and resolving these issues is of course a pre-requisite to achieving a solution which will enable the footpath link to be drained (via the system to be installed within the open space) and completed.

At present both the roads and the area of open space are private land within the ownership of Bellway and Persimmon and the Council would have no right to enter the land to carry out works - even when a solution to the wider issues is within its power. Though Officers will continue to press the developers to progress these matters we are essentially in the developers' hands.

I understand that CIIr Ramesh Patel has already replied to you with specific reference to the open space issues.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Graham Hinchey

Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning & Transport

PLEASE REPLY TO: Cabinet Support Office, Room 529, County Hall, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff CF10 4UW Tel (029) 2087 3837 Fax (029) 2087 2599


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Park at the end of the tunnel?

As our third full year of pushing drew to a close, we appeared to be making some progress, but it's so very, very slow.  we've been working with Councillor Phil Bale, and our AM, Julie Morgan, has been workiing behind the scenes for us too, leaning on Cardiff and raising the issue of public open spaces in the National Assembly debate on the new Planning Bill. 

Phil's been on the case in recent months, calling developers in for a meeting with officers and members during April.  Persimmon have to sort out the poor drainage on their upper section (which contributes to the flooding on Barratt's lower section, itself not very well drained), so some seven metre test boreholes have been drilled to ascertain what's down there under the capping layer and how it could help drain off water that isn't allowed to run into Welsh Water's sewers.  A solution is expected soon.

In the meantime, the adoption of the lower section is proceeding, with Cardiff talking to Barratt about finishing the remaining tasks.  A number of the trees will have to be replaced.  Boundary walling and fencing needs looking at, with only one edge apparently up to scratch and one of the corners still astoundingly short of appropriate fencing and footways.

This is definitely one sure way of showing how not to create a public open space; imagine leaving three developers to sort it out between them instead of making one of them responsible for the whole thing.  That's what should have happpened from the start. 
Apparently both developers are keen to decouple from this development, but of course the best way to do that is to pull one's corporate finger out and complete the tasks to the required standard.  Perhaps it really is rocket science. 

Promises have been made in the past and many of them haven't been fulfilled.  So we wait to see what happens and more importantly, when...

In the meantime please stay in touch and we'll post more news when we get it.

The Gardener

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The long boggy road....

Well March has dawned and our bog is still boggy, our trees haven't been planted properly and the access routes haven't been finished. Two of Britain's most well-known housing developers have still not managed to deliver a small piece of public parkland that's surrounded by many £ millions' worth of housing. This continued failure is - well what word would you use: frustrating? dispiriting? outrageous? arrogant? inept? not a good advert for private sector social responsibility?

It's almost a year since some 50 people met at Llys Enfys to show their support for the community garden idea, and incredible to think that our plans are held back purely because the land still isn't owned by the council, who want us to make a success of it.

Anyway I met with council officers on 23rd February to review progress (or lack of it) and discuss next steps. Paul Freeman left the council at the end of the month (Spain beckons) and the completion of our public open space is now with his colleague Ian Maddox. He's equally determined to make the developers meet their obligations - and within days the steel fencing went up around 90% of the children's play area...

I understand that the developer reponsible for completing our bit of the open space (no names but they used to have a helicopter in their TV ads) has been given a list of deficiencies including drainage, topsoil and planting. I've told the officers that we want to see the legal department taking enforcement action to get our public open space finished so we can all enjoy it safely.

Remember that the land is still owned by the developers, who remain legally responsible for any accidents (let's hope there aren't any of course!) that happen due to broken or incomplete infrastructure, or any infections due to dog mess in the as yet unprotected children's play area.

As soon as we have more news we'll be in touch!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

December snow news and a bit of line dancing...

The rest of the trees went in just before the frozen heavens opened and Winter arrived for the rest of the month! Under the white stuff is our elusive public open space and the only bit that needs topsoil and seed is the corner we're all hoping to use for the community garden.

A fanTASTic example of how modern builders communicate can be found by following the straight line of trees up the side of Travis Perkins' fence planted by one company. As it reaches the slope it joins the straight line of lollipop trees planted on the top section near the sports area by the other company. So that's easy to arrange then. They both had the same Plan from the Council after all. That's the large piece of paper which shows a four-sided box of trees bringing a sense of completeness and order to our charmingly haphazardly shaped new park. Lovely.

Yes, two truck loads of blokes came on different days to plant one row of trees. Or did they? Maybe it was dark on one of those days. Or maybe it was foggy. Or dark and foggy. Or dark and foggy and covered with millions of tiny but very opaque fairies. Wearing flared trousers. Perhaps the Earth's axis tilted just a little too much. Or could it be that one builder's plans were folded slightly differently? Go check out some choice precision planting...

When it's all finished and lovely, we probably won't notice!

Hope you've had a great Christmas and here's to 2011 being the year we finally get our park!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

September update...

Just a short one this time. I met with Paul Freeman on the site a couple of weeks ago. We talked about the progress on the public open space (it looks like only the Barratt section is incomplete, with much more topsoil needed to bring up the levels at the southeast corner and fencing to come around the children's play area. The grass seed seems to have taken over much of the upper section and - amazingly - they've even started doing something about the scrappy fence at the northeast corner and the overdue pathway into Watkins Square. The posts are in for most of the tree box, with the section close to Travis Perkins' fence to be dealt with later. Paul and I agreed that we should continue the tree planting tto help mask the fence and perhaps our first community garden project could be to install foliage and bushery (is that a real word? it should be!) along that edge.

Anyway, nothing can happen on site until the whole public open space is legally adopted by the Council and the developers have to finish the damn thing first. So come on Barratt, sort it out - you throw houses up in mere weeks, but it appears it takes you years to build a simple little park...