Developers say family farm business park plan ‘would create jobs and bring investment’


The developers said a planned business park on a family farm would create thousands of jobs and attract millions in investment.

Cardiff International Business Park would be built on farmland to the east of Cardiff Airport in the Vale of Glamorgan.

But the plans have drawn heavy criticism from campaigners and politicians fearful of the environmental impact of ‘concreting’ a working farm.

Now Legal and General, the developer behind the scheme, said the business park would create 4,375 jobs and attract £525million in investment, boosting the local economy.

Read more:Taxi fares in Vale of Glamorgan face huge increase as drivers struggle to pay for fuel

Andrew McPhillips, Legal and General Development Manager for Strategic Land and Major Projects, said: “This is a key project for Wales and we know it is important that we continue to communicate our plans. to key stakeholders, the community and future partners.

“Wales must be open for business for those who want to invest and consider investing in its future global economic development. The land has been designated for planning in the enterprise area for a number of years.

As well as building the 45 hectare business park, plans involve giving 48 hectares of farmland to Vale of Glamorgan council to massively expand nearby Porthkerry Park. A land corridor along Porthkerry Road would also be retained, linking the nearby railway line to Cardiff Airport for possible new train or tram service.

Mr McPhillips said: ‘We have already agreed the transfer of 48 hectares of land to Vale of Glamorgan Council to form an extension of Porthkerry National Park for community use with additional funding for the management of the environment.

“This transfer will provide more public access with a connection to the Wales Coastal Path and access on foot from Porthkerry and Rhoose. From an environmental point of view, this transfer goes beyond mitigation and offers a significant net gain in biodiversity. There would also be 10.3 hectares of green space in the business park.

The business park would be built on Model Farm, off Port Road, which has been run by the Jenkins family for four generations. The family previously said they were “devastated” to have to leave the farm, but hope to continue their wildflower seed business.

Legal and General bought the farm several years ago and it was earmarked for a major building project in 2017 as part of Vale of Glamorgan council’s local development plan. The site is also in one of Wales’ eight Enterprise Zones where the Welsh Government focuses its economic development and encourages business to invest.

Last summer, Vale’s council planning committee voted to allow the Model Farm business park. The activists then successfully applied for judicial review, which led to the clearance being revoked. Now another planning application has been sent to council and public consultation on the plans is running until February 17.

Then, over the next few months, councilors on the planning committee will again be asked to vote on whether or not to approve the permit for the business park. The latest vote was split along party lines with nine councilors voting in favor and eight against. With the next local elections in May, the political composition of the committee could change and affect the next vote.

A map of the proposed business park east of Cardiff Airport

But in the meantime, Legal and General has released new estimates on how Cardiff International Business Park could boost the local economy. With the development’s overall floor area covering 160,000 square meters, it is expected that the business park can provide space for 4,375 full-time employees.

Gross value added, which measures local economic output, is expected to total £301m, including £232m when the business park is operational and £69m during construction. Construction of the business park is expected to take a decade and create 104 jobs.

However, Maxine Levett, an activist with Vale Communities Unite, said several questions about the plans remain unanswered. She added that the business park would be “harmful” to the community and the environment and said it was unnecessary with several vacant brownfield sites nearby.

She said: ‘This is a working farm helping to feed the community and encourage biodiversity when Vale Council has declared a climate emergency. The land currently available at the Bro St Athan site shows that there is no requirement for this type of development as there are thousands of square meters of brownfield land waiting to be reclaimed.

“Who will fund the road works to cope with the impact of potentially 3,000 additional vehicles from this site on top of the additional transport needs of newer residential buildings and the proposed Aberthaw Power Station development?

“Bristol Airport said it was growing its passenger numbers to 12 million a year. This will have a huge impact on companies wishing to fly from Cardiff Airport. And where does the funding come from to provide a rail link to a planned transport hub?

“We will continue to fight this development as we believe it is detrimental to the community and the environment and unnecessary with Aberthaw, St Athan and other locations close to the M4 corridor better placed to meet employment needs rather than a working farm.

Contrary to the views of activists and some local politicians, Legal and General claimed this would preserve and improve the environment. Plans include three kilometers of new hedgerows and the planting of five acres of brush and wood as well as the extension of Porthkerry National Park.

Mr McPhillips said: “Legal and General has been committed to Wales as a progressive investor and significant employer for many years. This is a project that will increase economic growth and we will continue to seek planning viability sensitively with existing stakeholders.

“The creation of 4,375 jobs and an investment of £525million must be seen as essential for the future of the Welsh economy, particularly next to Cardiff Airport. This investment in commercial infrastructure by Legal and General reinforces the Welsh Government’s current major investment in Cardiff Airport, which is a strategic gateway to facilitate international connectivity.

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