South East Wales

Cardiff green belt call by AM to protect countryside

Julie Morgan AM
Image caption Julie Morgan wants a green belt to protect land on Cardiff's outskirts

Countryside on the outskirts of Cardiff should be protected by a green belt, a city Labour assembly member says.

Cardiff North's Julie Morgan says plans to expand the city do not do enough to stop it encroaching on the landscape.

Development plans rule out building on hills north of the M4, but Mrs Morgan says the area needs lasting protection.

However, the local Conservative MP said there was no chance of house building being permitted there and a green belt was a "complete irrelevance".

Cardiff Council has approved outline plans that would see the biggest expansion of the city for more than half a century.

Its draft local development plan (LDP) contains proposals to build 45,400 new homes, some of them on greenfield sites.

The LDP says that a "strategically important" ridge to the north of the M4 will be preserved and will continue to provide a green backdrop to the city. Other open spaces and river valleys in the city are also protected.

But Mrs Morgan said: "It's not enough. There needs to be a green belt and I am hoping the public will convince the planners and get behind it."

Image caption Cardiff is set to expand under the city's draft local development plan

The LDP lasts until 2026, whereas land such as that around Caerphilly mountain could be permanently protected if it was designated as part of a green belt, Mrs Morgan said.

She will launch her campaign at a public meeting in her constituency on Friday.

Mrs Morgan will also invite people to suggest whether more protection is needed for three river valleys in Cardiff - the Ely, Taff and Rhymney - and Llanishen reservoir.

In a consultation on the LDP, Labour-run Cardiff Council is asking whether a green belt should be created for the first time.

Green belts are a way to control the growth of towns and cities by protecting the countryside that encircles them.

The only one in Wales is between Newport and Cardiff.

Labour's manifesto for this year's local elections said the party would use green belts in Cardiff.

Deputy council leader Ralph Cook said: "Over the next few months we should be in a position to make a firm determination whether a green belt is possible under Welsh arrangements.

"In the meantime I think it will be useful to know what people's views on the inclusion of a green belt are. We can get some impression of what public appetite there would be."

He added: "Any land that's not included in the local development plan for development is protected.

"We have not identified for development any of the land north of the M4 to Cardiff."

The Conservative MP for Cardiff North, Jonathan Evans, said: "There is as much chance of housing development being granted north of the M4 motorway as there is for a new housing estate being built in the grounds of Cardiff Castle.

"The designation of land north of the M4 motorway as green belt when there is only one other green belt designation in Wales is a complete irrelevance."

He called on the Welsh government to promote a "regional strategy", warning that the plans for Cardiff risked "sucking the life out of the valley communities" to the north of the city.

The public meeting is being held at Llanishen Leisure Centre at 19:00 GMT on Friday.

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