Some Cardiff Councillors are claiming that the new Military Medicine Museum at Britannia Park will not be going on green space and that the location of the new museum will be on the site of the old Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre. These claims are false.
The Museum will extend far beyond the gravelled area on which the Visitor Centre once stood, into the green space of the park, requiring the cutting down of trees and the relocation of Locky’s Cottage and public art, and impacting the children’s playground.
Those claiming no loss of green space have either not examined the plans and the Planning Officer’s Report, or are deliberately denying what is evident in the documentation.
The amended Site Plan for 19/02506/MJR, submitted on 20 January 2020, shows that the Museum building will extend along virtually the whole of the length of Roath Lock, not just on the gravel, much of which will in fact not be built on but left as an open space in front of the Museum. As the red boundary line on the Site Plan shows, half the park will be impacted. Indeed, overshadowing from the building will affect almost all the park, which is today a sunny spot, open to the water on two sides. The Museum will dominate what is left.
The artist’s impression of the Museum on the Design and Access Statement confirms the scale of the building. It is at best a half-truth to claim that the Museum will be on the site of the Visitor Centre, which was a smaller and much lower construction. A modest building on the gravel would not have raised so many objections from those who enjoy the green space that Britannia Park provides today.
The Planning Officer’s Report to the 16 December 2020 Planning Committee recognises at several points that there will be a loss of open and green space, both directly from building the Museum and from its consequential impact on Britannia Park. Let us take a couple of examples.
“The Development involves a loss of open space. Much of the space occupied by the Museum is laid to gravel but there is also some impact on the play area and part of the grass area (558m2), both of which are regularly used by the public.” (5.3)
“It is accepted that the footprint of the building and pathway infrastructure surrounding it does intrude into the current children’s play area by approximately 130m2 as a linear strip, and would also see the loss of some 560m2 of grass from the existing arrangement of finishes in the park.” (8.29)
The Report acknowledges the loss in attaching a condition to the grant of planning permission, “The development is only considered acceptable subject to the upgrading of the park in compensation for the reduction in the area of available public open space in accordance with policy C4 of the Adopted Cardiff Local Development Plan 2006-2026.” (Recommendation 1.4)
The promised “scheme of landscaping/public realm enhancements” has yet to be seen and is unlikely to satisfy objectors seeking to preserve the park. But the important point here is that the Planning Committee recognised that a loss of public open space should be compensated, so why are Councillors denying that this loss will happen?
The Report acknowledges, “The development itself would require the removal of four trees from the application site, comprising two ‘C’ category, early mature Italian alders, one ‘B’ category early mature Italian alder and one ‘B’ category early mature ‘New Horizon’ elm which the developer would seek to replace elsewhere on the site.” (8.30) Why would these trees need to be removed if the Museum were being built only on the gravel area once occupied by the Tube?
Further quotes from the documentation could be given, but the evidence is clear. The Museum of Military Medicine will entail the loss of green space in Britannia Park. Councillors are claiming to inform local residents of the facts but regrettably this is untrue.