High quality office space crucial to Parkway station says lead on economic development

A council’s lead on economic development said a major railway station development planned for Cardiff would bring crucial high quality office space to the city.

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Cardiff Council’s head of economic development, Ken Poole, made his comments in the opening day of a Welsh Government hearing on plans for the Cardiff Parkway development, proposed for land to the south of St Mellons Business Park, on Tuesday, July 11.

Plans for the wider business park scheme, of which the railway station is proposed to be a part of, were approved by Cardiff Council in April, 2022. However, the Welsh Government deemed the project to be of national significance and called in the application in October.

In the first of a two-day hearing, residents and campaigners opposed to the plans said there was plenty of office space already available in the centre of Cardiff.

They also said that the proposed proximity of the business park, which could have about 650 car parking spaces, would encourage car travel and increase congestion in the area.

Mr Poole said there was a lack of good quality office space in the city, adding that one “iconic” technology business was looking to set up in St Mellons and that the Parkway development could be key in attracting more investment.

Simon Brook, of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, said: “This idea that people coming into the business park will be coming by train is wrong.”

He said that some people coming to the business park from Bristol might well travel by train, but argued that those coming from Cardiff and Newport would likely travel by car.

A member of Friends of the Gwent Levels, Dr Diana Callaghan, said: “Building a business park next to the M4 will sustain car use, possibly increase it… there will be a high proportion of people who will drive there.”

Referencing congestion on Cypress Drive, near the proposed location of the project, and the potential increase of traffic in the area, Ms Callaghan added: “Imagine another 9,000 car journeys in and out of there during the day.”

The applicant, Cardiff Parkwat Developments Ltd, estimated that the development could serve 800,000 passengers each year and lead to the upgrade of local cycling routes at the time of its initial approval.

It was also hoped that the station could provide much-needed improved connections between east and west Cardiff and attract more bus service connections to the area.

As part of the hearing, Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) inspectors will be looking at whether the development complies with Cardiff’s local development plan and the national development plan, Future Wales.

The planning inspector will also be looking at whether the proposed compensation measures would mitigate the impact of the development on the Rumney and Peterstone Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Those opposed to the parkway development argued that 90,000 sqm of the office space being proposed as part of the scheme already existed in the city.

Dr Catherine Linstrum, also of Friends of the Gwent Levels, said: “Three times of what is suggested here is already available in Cardiff.”

Later on in the meeting, Mr Pool said that the importance of having high quality office space in Cardiff was crucial.

He said: “We haven’t got enough quality space. As a city… we need to provide investors with a choice… in terms of the product that they may require. All companies will have different requirements and therefore if the city is to remain successful, we need to provide the choice.

“If we don’t provide the choice, the businesses… referenced earlier, they will look elsewhere.”

Mr Poole said he was unable to name the “iconic” business which had expressed an interest in coming to St Mellons.

However, he did say that if they came to Cardiff it could create between 150 and 200 jobs in the area.

He added: “They don’t want to go to the city centre, they wanted to go to a business park.”

The hearing will continue tomorrow at County Hall from 9.30am.

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