Cardiff Parkway: Should a new railway station be built between Cardiff and Newport?

  • ITV Wales journalist Mike Griffiths reports

A new railway station and business park between Cardiff and Newport could be a "game changer" for local people providing a public transport boost, according to campaigners.

The Welsh Government is set to consider proposals for Cardiff Parkway.

Developers behind the proposed station and accompanying business park in St Mellons have told ITV Wales the project has been "on the drawing board for over 10 years".

But concerns over its environmental impact have resulted in the project being rethought.

A planning hearing will reopen on Tuesday 16 January to determine whether or not it can go ahead.

Cardiff Council approved the proposals in 2022, but as the plans are more significant than just the local area, they also have to be checked by the Welsh Government.

The scheme would be the first privately developed railway station in Wales.

Developers say if it goes ahead, it could serve more than 800,000 passengers a year.

They also say it could create jobs, in an area where nearly 50% of people were economically inactive according to the 2021 Census.

"East Cardiff is very very poorly served by public transport, it's an expanding area with a very very large residential catchment area" says Nigel Roberts, Chairman of the Cardiff Parkway development team.

"This is a game changer for local people. What's not to like about 6000 new jobs in an area that does suffer from deprivation, that does suffer from lack of opportunity?

"It makes sense to cluster development right next to a mainline station."

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Bus services and the nearest Park and Ride have both been scaled back since the pandemic.

Jeanette Frowen and her family have lived in the area for ten years, she says the development would "open up more options to an area that already is deprived."

"The public transport is poor- to go from here to the town centre, door to door it'll take an hour and a quarter. It's not a realistic option."

"Trying to get out of St Mellons in the morning takes 20 minutes to half an hour... to even get off the estate."

Those in favour say public transport provison in the area is poor and this would help improve it.

Councillor Michael Michael, who represents St Mellons and Trowbridge, says transport links in the area are "sparse".

"It really is a must, not only the train station but the jobs that will be provided by the business park- for this area it's crucial," he said.

"It'll open up most of Cardiff East- Llanrumney, Rumney, parts of Marshfield. It means we'll be able to access transport sustainably. Thousands of cars will be taken off the roads."

Currently, the track runs through the site in St Mellons, but the train doesn't stop. Credit: Cardiff Parkway

But some campaigners are concerned about the potential environmental impact if the development goes ahead, from traffic driving in to access the station, and because the development is on a site of Special Scientific Interest.

Catherine Linstrum from Friends of the Gwent Levels says SSSIs are something "we need to keep in a climate emergency."

"We are not opposed to a railway station, we think it's important that communities here have access to alternative means of travel beyond the car."

But she believes the accompanying business park will have the opposite effect, bringing "hundreds and hundreds of cars in everyday."

Friends of the Gwent Levels say the site should be protected as a site of Special Scientific Interest.

The developers say they're mitigating the environmental impact by "protecting" and "enhancing" the reens that run through the site.

They say the environmental sustainability of the development is its unique selling point to companies wanting to set up in the business park.

"They want to be in sustainable buildings with high credentials in terms of the environment, but they also want to get to a catchment area of staff via public transport.

"It's very important to us that humans work hand in glove with nature."

  • Analysis from ITV Wales journalist Mike Griffiths

Nearly five years on from the rejection of the M4 Relief Road, proposed alternatives remain very much on the drawing board.

Additional stations along the main line were a key proposal from the commission chaired by Lord Burns that was set up by the Welsh Government.

A consultation on initial designs was launched in autumn 2023, jointly funded by the UK and Welsh governments.

But funding for the development of the stations would have to come from the UK Government.

Advocates for Cardiff Parkway say the project makes a compelling case. 

As a privately funded scheme, they argue construction could begin once planning permission is granted.

They argue the site would also provide significant Park & Ride capacity for a city that is poorly served in that way.

But it's worries over the environmental impact of the construction and day to day operations of the site that could stall it further. 

Changes made to Chapter 6 of Planning Policy Wales last autumn include a "strengthened approach" to protecting Sites of Special Scientific Interest, along with explicitly stating "development is considered unacceptable as a matter of principle". There is still an exemption where "necessary safeguards" have been put in place.

The Cardiff Parkway developers say they have put in place measures to make up for the loss of habitats and address traffic concerns.

The Planning Inspector will now have to consider whether the scheme meets this more stringent guidance. 

Ultimately it's Welsh ministers who'll make the decision based on this advice. 

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