Cardiff expansion: Council backs big growth plan

There are concerns that too many houses will be built in Cardiff rather than being spread across south east Wales

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Councillors in Cardiff have approved plans for the largest expansion of the city for more than half a century.

The project will see 45,400 new homes built by 2026, with the Welsh capital's population predicted to top 400,000.

The blueprint also sets out investment in public transport after a warning traffic will rise by a third, increasing journey times by 40%.

More bus lanes will be introduced as the council attempts to reduce reliance on cars.

The proposals are in Cardiff council's draft Local Development Plan (LDP) preferred strategy.

It outlines sites to build major housing and employment developments, and they include greenfield as well as brownfield.


  • Cardiff's population is set to rise from around 350,000 now to 408,000 in 2026.
  • The number of homes rise from 146,000 to 184,000 by 2026 - a 26% increase
  • The average journey time in the city is now 17 minutes but this will rise to 24 minutes. Between 2000 and 2010, traffic on Cardiff's roads increased by 12%
  • The council's looking at the possibility of some car-free housing estates.
  • The council forecasts 40% more jobs being created in the city in the time-frame - with more than half in the finance and business sector.
  • There will be more consultation on the strategy before it is likely to be adopted in October 2015.
  • Source: Cardiff local development plan

The biggest single proposal is for 7,500 homes in a new suburb west of Pentrebane and about 6,000 and 2,000 earmarked either side of Pontprennau.

A further 2,000 homes could be built on land north of junction 33 on the M4.

Speaking before the meeting, Ralph Cook, deputy leader of Cardiff council, said: "Each of the local authorities have got their own development plans and in them are their predicted or aspired to number of properties they're going to build.

"So they are taking on some of the burden but the truth is the developers and people themselves want to live and work in Cardiff."

He said there was evidence to show Cardiff's population was "about ready to grow" and there was "a pent-up demand" for housing in the city.

"There are at least 10,000 families on the housing waiting list for instance," he said.


The LDP states that about 40,000 jobs are planned by 2026 - a rise of 20%. The financial and business services are expecting a huge boost with 55% new jobs.

By then it is expected the capital's population could be as high as 408,000, a rise of 26%, according to the report.

A significant proportion of those arrivals are expected to come from neighbouring areas in south east Wales.

Map of locations Map of locations for housing set out in the blueprint

Cardiff has about a quarter of the entire population of south east Wales but it provides around a third of the jobs.

Every day 74,000 workers commute into the city, or 37% of the workforce. Of those, 80% commute by car and this is expected to rise.

In light of this stark warning, investment in public transport will focus on new bus lanes.

It has been estimated that journey times will be 40% longer. Currently, the average journey is 17 minutes rising to 24.


This may be the blueprint for the development of Cardiff but the impact will be felt throughout south-east Wales.

For a start, enough people to comfortably fill the Millennium Stadium commute into the city every day so the effectiveness of the transport infrastructure in the capital will be critical for them.

And secondly, large numbers of the new arrivals will come from neighbouring authorities.

One of the inevitable debates arising from this plan will be whether Cardiff is soaking up too much of the new housing.

And then there is the question of whether the city can continue in its role as the main generator of private sector employment in south-east Wales.

The 40,000 projection of new jobs is heavily reliant on the financial services sector.

To be fair, Cardiff had a strong track record pre-recession but all eyes now will be on the newly-created enterprise zone in the city centre to deliver.

The council will look at introducing car-free housing estates and whether funding two new dual carriageways in Cardiff - at the estimated cost of up to half a billion pounds.

Mr Cook said transport was essential to the city's success.

"Transport is the major challenge, of course. Cities that grind to a halt through congestion don't develop," he said.

The vote will be followed by a public consultation, and more detailed work on the plan.

Mr Cook said the plan was daunting but possible.

"The amount of development shocked me when we came into power in May, but yes, if a city is going to become what we want to be, which is a city of global renowned, a European capital city then it has to grow.

"Cities that don't grow die," he said.

Speaking ahead of the council meeting, John Punter, professor of urban design at the school of planning and geography at Cardiff University, welcomed the proposals.

"It's big in the sense that it's building in the suburbs where previously, certainly in the last decade, we've been shying away from that and pretending we could all live in apartments in the bay or around the city centre," he said.

"It's certainly a major expansion of the built up area but I personally welcome it very strongly because it's time that we thought about families and more medium-density growth rather than everybody living in apartments."

He said politicians had not "grasped the nettle" over the last 10 years because of opposition from existing residents.

But Professor Kevin Morgan of Cardiff University said the council needed to "get its housing policy in order".

He said it was "politically impossible" for Cardiff to accommodate all the homes.

"I think the future is a split - some of the homes will need to be built within the city and some of the homes will need to be built within neighbouring authorities in the valleys," he said.

"This is not just a Cardiff issue.

"We've got 70-80,000 people commuting in every day to work, so Cardiff is a huge labour market and the fortunes of neighbouring areas are partly locked up with the future of Cardiff and therefore Cardiff and the region need to realise they've got a shared destiny here.

"They can achieve more by working together than they can by working separately."

St Mary Street, Cardiff in 1895 Cardiff's early growth came at the end of the Victorian era

We asked for your views on the proposals, and below is a selection.

Why don't we just allow everyone to build wherever they want as rules seem to be able to be changed when it suits!Then there will be no countryside or green places for our children to explore and play in. Why not try to tidy up areas that need it and fill up some of the empty houses that council inspectors spend their time going out to. Less places going to rack and ruin-they are everywhere around Cardiff

Denise Dickman, Cardiff,

Cardiff is already at saturation point. Our roads are gridlocked; travel to and from the city takes an age, even by public transport; the road network is simply inadequate. Plus the majority of the population already live in cramped, densely populated neighbourhoods that are poorly maintained by the Council. This idea will simply devastate the city's green belt and add to our already shocking air quality. The Council needs to go back to basics and focus on becoming a truly sustainable and environmentally friendly city by investing in basic infrastructure, in terms of sorting out a decent public transport system and usher in a decent road network before stuffing more people inside shoe boxes in deprived areas of Cardiff. Because, let's face it, the well-to-do will never accept mixed income housing estates in their neighbourhoods.

Vern, Cardiff,

Cardiff needs to get a strong infrasturcture right and make itself a more European city. Adding a tramline and electric buses would add to existing transport routes. Look at Freiburgh in Germany for an almost perfect transport system, that is quick, efficent and after the initial investment, cheap for the population. It has approx 230,000 inhabitents and the transport system is a dream. Newport, take a hint....Freiburg has a large student population too.

Lyn Thomas, Newport, Wales

We are currently seeing the growth of a South East Wales conurbation , whether we like it or not , consequently it should be developed properly and not just alowed to develope piecemeal . The present geographical LA structures are historical and , in time , will need to change to reflect actual progress and not be dictated by political expediency . Cardiff's population has grown significently recently and it is regared as as a decent place to live and to work , if we want a prosperous South Wales ,Cardiff will have to lead it and you have to think big . Mediocrity is not a solution, you have to have quality ,which Developments such as the Millenium Stadium , Millenium Centre , Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama , St Davids 2 and Swalec Stadium etc are fantastic examples of, which bring visitors into the City , you have to concentrate your investment in one place to create a World Class destination , and the spin off will then develope into the surrounding areas!

Jim Leighton, Cardiff

Once you develop on gree-field land it's gone forever. My view would be that we might be better working in partnership with local authorities around the edges of cardiff - investing in transport improvements that would make commuting into Cardiff a more feasible and less stressful prospect... not only would that enable people from the valleys (for example) to get in to Cardiff more quickly for jobs, it might encourage greater investment in those areas directly which would be better for the South Wales economy as a whole.

James Bailey, Cardiff

The demography and regional distribution of economic activity within the UK is maldistributed resulting in congestion in the south east and underdevelopment and unemployed resources elsewhere. The model of development under consideration by Cardiff appears to make a virtue of this principle by encouraging growth in Cardiff. The history of UK regional development suggests a similar result for Wales and is undesirable. We need innovative development outside of Cardiff to achieve a desirable regional distribution of Welsh economic development.

Richard Godfrey,

This is a terrible idea. Cardiff's last expansion project - the Bay - is full of half empty flats and apartment buildings. More empty homes would only further drive down house prices which would leave those who bought in to the Bay in greater negative equity. Also, the more modern suburban areas like Pontrennau are completely soulless and lacking in community - no small businesses, shops, pubs etc. This model for city development is about 70 years out of date. There is no need for more housing in Cardiff until there are enough jobs to attract greater numbers of workers and their families to the city. The degeneration of the airport is one of the main inhibitors to international business investment. Improved links from the City (or even moving the airport itself) would be a far better investment. Finally, the fact that a large number of people commute in to the city should not be seen as evidence for the need for more housing development.

Tanya, Cardiff,

This is madness on a number of fronts. Firstly a large part of Cardiff's character and attraction is its relative small size. We are in danger of becoming another faceless city. the valley areas have suffered decline for the past 30 years and investment should come here, not in Cardiff. Jobs and housing should be provided where possible north of the M4, this would revitalise the valleys and cut commuting. Why can none of our politicians see this?

John Deering,

The whole "there will be no green or countryside" argument is just paranoid superstitious nonsense. You (the bbc news site) yourselves published a story earlier this year which showed that less than just 2% of the uk was developed. We need to build... A lot! It is the single biggest handicap holding the uk back. People need to just get over the whole nimby, dont build on greenfield site attitude as it is just not supported by any evidence.

Robin, Swansea,

Why is everyone obsessed by statistics? If you look at the house building rate over the last ten years - the proposed supply of land will simply outstrip the rate of building (even at the peak of the housing boom)! Why not concentrate on quality rather than quantity! Just because land is designated, doesnt mean it will be built!

Peter Griffin, Wales,

"The council will look at introducing car-free housing estates " - who is going to buy a house that stipulates they can't park their own car anywhere near their house? Public transport will only work if its cheap, reliable, frequent and convenient. Until all of those factors are satified people would prefer to use their car even if it means a longer commute time. The Council is in cloud cuckoo land if they feel they can bully people out of their cars by banning them from housing estates and making it even harder to drive by putting in more bus lanes. Most people I know would rather spend 40mins in their car, with it at the temperature they want and listening to what they want than have to stand around waiting for an overcrowded bus (that's usually dirty), pay through the nose to be crammed up against a total stranger, boiling/ freezing depending on the time of year and sharing the "joys" of some teenagers tinny mobile phone played music. Plus still have a 10min!

Sam, Tredegar

: It's frightening that people with influence talk such nonsense - 'cities that don't grow die'. Cardiff is far from in decline and doesn't need the level of expansion being proposed. It will create a boost for house builders but aside from that will choke the value out of the city and send house prices tumbling. The people who travel in from the valleys, and from towns like Bridgend may not want to live in Cardiff - there are p[lenty of houses for sale in estate agent windows if they did! Assuming these people leave the valleys - what happens to those areas. Politicians - Listen to your Cardiff community ... the people who elected you! DON'T expand our city with thousands and thousands of houses! We like it as it is thanks!

Paul, Cardiff

Cardiff Council are clueless - how can they allow building 45,000 new homes over next 14 years without significant transport improvements? Their answer (as ever) is to add more bus lanes and encourage people on to it's already substandard public transport network. Why not reopen a few closed railway lines? Make bus journeys more direct? Or, heaven forbid, improve the exhausted road network? I see the promised missing link of the PDP - the Eastern Bay Link road - has been paid lip service, but I doubt it will ever get built in my lifetime... Even more ridiculously they've returned to the completely unworkable idea of a "car-free suburb" - this idea needs to die a death and quick!

Chris Murphy, Cardiff

Cardiff is overcrowded as it is, the last traffic "improvements" by the last City Council chiefs ruined traffic flow around the City centre probably causing far more polution than before. The obsession with narrowings and humps on urban roads disrupts traffic flow for private and public transport and emergency vehicles. I am all for enforcing sensible speed limits where necessary but it has gone too far.To the east of the city there are no commuter stations on the rail network and the bus lanes down Newport Road, starting at Llanrumney are totally disjointed and cause far more congestion and pollution from other vehicles than ever before. As for bendy buses through Canton,what nitwit thought of that ! There are plenty of improvements that could be made to improve public and private transport journey times and pollution levels without huge costs by use of joined up thinking instead of daft schemes.

Martin Willoughby, Cardiff

Cardiff can barely cope with the demands of the current population without such a huge expansion. Want to know how many NHS Dentists there are taking on new patients in the whole of Cardiff at the moment? Zero!

Mike, Cardiff

All this so called development is just 'pie in the sky'. The amount of infra-structure that would needed to be in place, would be out of date by the time the so called developments are anywhere near completion, rail access, public transport access, for as the figures show nearly 80,000 people per day from each direction into and out of the city. More trains, more buses. The construction of all these facilities, money, planning, agreement, construction are not just going to happen overnight. If this task is to be undertaken why are they still talking about it? The disruption to the city and suburbs would it be worth the cost? Why not encourage out of town locations for businesses.

John Donovan , Cardiff

Cardiff has the worst traffic infrastructure of any city I've ever lived in or been to. We had a chance down Cardiff Bay to plan things properly but we didn't and it's nightmare down here. If this is not planned properly for the rest of the city we'll be left with no option but cars. Whatever happened to sustainable development? Time to move away maybe....

John, Cardiff

Why does it all have to be about Cardiff ? The valleys need the investment far more,new housing will help stimulate jobs,schools and all the associated services.I live in Fairwater and just can't see how our roads can support any more traffic.Coming in from the west is a nightmare at the moment,either via Llandaff which is a huge bottle neck or via St Fagans Rd,if this goes ahead it will be like one giant car park.

Sue, Cardiff

Cardiff has the worst traffic infrastructure of any city I've ever lived in or been to. We had a chance down Cardiff Bay to plan things properly but we didn't and it's nightmare down here. If this is not planned properly for the rest of the city we'll be left with no option but cars. Whatever happened to sustainable development? Time to move away maybe....

John, Cardiff,

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