The Northern Meadow in Whitchurch, Cardiff will be lost if the new £180 million Velindre Cancer Centre build goes ahead. The impact will see the loss to local wildlife and habitat destruction, and a significant increase in traffic and air pollution.
I am a supporter of Velindre Cancer Centre, they are a fantastic charity who do so much for those with cancer and their families. I have helped fundraise for them on countless occasions. However, I don’t think it is right for the new cancer centre to take away such a beautiful and valued natural part of the city. The current cancer centre will soon be no longer be big enough to deal with the number of patients they see every year. Plans have been put in place to build the new one on the Whitchurch Hospital site, plus the Northern Meadow, as well as new concrete walkways and an 850-space car park.
In spring of 2018, Cardiff Council granted planning permission for the primary access from Asda Coryton, to the new Velindre Cancer Centre. It also gave emergency access and temporary construction from the old Whitchurch Hospital site and Lady Cory Field. This not only will add additional traffic and delays to already incredibly busy roads but the loss of a stunning green space and the wildlife. It would also restrict access to Forest Farm Nature Reserve and the Taff Trail. The meadow is adjacent to Glamorganshire Canal Nature Reserve, part of which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with several trees being more than 200 years old.
The Northern Meadows Petition
Residents have banded together, and are growing the support of their petition. They want the hospital to be built, but on a ‘brownfield’ rather than a green space. At the time of writing this the petition had gained nearly 9,000 signatures, mine included.
The main argument has been that due to lockdown, the residents didn’t get to have their say as the in-person consultation was cut. Many residents also source this information from the local library, which has been closed for renovations since late 2019. (Incidentally, this is also next door to the current entrance to Velindre Hospital.)
Unfortunately, the land has had planning permission for over 20 years. Meaning if the hospital can not be built on it, it’ll probably be used for housing. Which will be even worse in my eyes. So much has changed over this period of time, and the lockdown has shown that there is a real need for our green spaces. Re-appraisal of the land needs to be considered.
What the meadows mean to me
I have spent so much time during this time of isolation, walking through the meadow and around Forest Farm. It has also been a pit stop when we have been out on our bikes. It has been a real refuge for me. I have been able to exercise, get clean, fresh air, and actually see other people – even if they were keeping their distance. I also got to speak to real people, even if it was only a “hello“.
The Northern Meadows has been used and explored for generations by the community of Cardiff North. Even as teenagers, my friends and I would ride our bikes here from Llandaff North and Gabalfa. We’d also meet boys in the field! (Shock horror, can you believe it!) I can’t take credit for this quote, and I can’t find who wrote it, but someone said it perfectly, “Children race each other downhills in sleds in Winter, listen to the first songs of the birds in Spring and fill their apple-red cheeks with tasty blackberries as Summer fades into Autumn.”
What can be done?
The Northern Meadows are incredibly important, ensuring that the community remains healthy, both physically and mentally, and that they have an escape and protection from the stress and pollution of the city. To deprive a community of such a beautiful, meaningful place would be devastating.
Even if you do not live in Cardiff, or if you have not yet had the pleasure of visiting, you can find out more on the Facebook Group or