The Bute Park Horror

What could be nicer on lovely spring day than to take a walk through the local park? Even better if you live in the city of Cardiff, home to one of the largest areas of mature parkland in any urban setting, so you can take a stroll among lovely old trees and fields (landscaped by Capability Brown) in the shadow of a picturesque and historic castle.

At least that’s what it should be like. Unfortunately, Cardiff City Council has other ideas. Bute Park is currently being redeveloped by the Council in order to make it more accessible to lorries and other heavy vehicles. This is intended to allow more large-scale “Events” to take place on Coopers Fields, the area just behind Cardiff Castle.  Further commercial exploitation of this area will no doubt ensue. Despite vigorous opposition to the plans by regular users of the Park, including myself, and widespread condemnation in the press (including the esteemed organ Private Eye) the Council last year granted itself planning permission (surprise, surprise) to construct a new road into the heart of this precious “green lung”.

I’m depressed to say that work on the new road has gathered pace during the early months of this year. Irreplaceable trees have been felled, and a hideous new bridge is being built over the Dock Feeder Canal. Needless to say, all this construction is accompanied by frequent movement of heavy vehicles in and out of the park. Large areas are now out of bounds for pedestrians, and those that do bravely venture along the footpaths elsewhere have to vie with the trucks. Many of the paths have been resurfaced to make them more suitable for motor vehicles and the signs denoting the speed limit, which used to be 5 mph throughout, have now all been removed. It’s no fun sharing a footpath with a juggernaut doing 30 mph, I can tell you. Still, I suppose we better get used to it. Bute Lorry Park it’s going to be from now on.

I’ve just got one of those new-fangled Blackberry things (which I don’t know how to work yet). However, a few days ago I did use the old one to take a few pictures of the devastation on view from my usual route into work. The first one shows the view looking North from just behind the castle.

The Dock Feeder canal is just to the right. There used to be a relatively narrow trackway  running along the route taken shown here, which the Council decided to replace to make it more suitable for heavy road vehicles. Coopers’ Fields lie to the left and this road is used to bring equipment, temporary buildings etc for use there. On the Council’s literature this work is described as “resurfacing”, but, as you can see from the picture, in addition to the new tarmac surface they have taken the opportunity to construct a sort of lay-by which more-or-less doubles the width of the path. Here’s another view, showing the new stretch of tarmac snaking its way along the side of the canal. You can see more clearly the area of grassland onto which lorries will be driving in ever-increasing numbers. It would be easier for them to tarmac over the whole thing and be done with it.

Two short but wide spurs to the left cut into the fields, presumably to allow vehicles easier access to the grass in order to churn it up into a quagmire. Here’s a view taken from a vantage point to the left of that in the first picture, showing the dire state of disprepair that Coopers Fields are in anyway, even before the new regime of rapacious commercial exploitation. The grass has been left in this damaged state since last September. No doubt it will be similarly neglected in those brief future periods in between being covered by temporary buildings and mobile entertainments of various sorts.

To the left of the above picture you can also see the cranes involved in construction work further North. I’ve stopped walking in that part of the park because it’s just too dangerous. A main road far worse than the one shown here, and complete with traffic lights, now enters from North Road and cuts deep into the park in order to reach the Council’s nursery facility – the type for plants, not children – which is right next to the River Taff (which lies to the East of the site shown in the pictures). At least the Council says its so lorries can reach the nursery. But how many lorries are going to need to get to the nursery every day such that they require a whole new road to be built? I know I’m not the only one who thinks this is just a cover. Phase 2 of the operation isn’t hard to guess: an extension of the road Eastwards across the River Taff via a new road bridge to Sophia Gardens, completely bisecting Bute Park and creating a major thoroughfare to relieve congestion to the West.

If you think the Council wouldn’t dare, and that they’d never get away with it, just look at what they have got away with already. And not just here. The idiotic Highways Department of Cardiff City Council has been responsible for monstrosity after monstrosity in this city. Only now are they turning their attention to beautiful Bute Park. They must be stopped.

5 Responses to “The Bute Park Horror”

  1. Mr Physicist Says:

    As someone who has wandered through the park on a summer’s day, this looks like devastation! This whole area of Cardiff – Sophia Gardens, Bute Park, Cardiff Castle and the Millennium Stadium – is somewhere special and should be treated as such. What more can we expect from the council with the shortest cycle lane in the world!

  2. Rhodri Evans Says:

    I used to run a lot in Bute Park but now tend to steer clear as more and more of it is tarmaced over. What they are doing to it is a travesty, and I’m yet to meet a resident of Cardiff who approves of the work.

  3. telescoper Says:

    I just walked through the Park again to get to the office and today the whole area of Coopers’ Fields is fenced off for “Event Preparation”. The road isn’t finished yet and they can’t wait to get started. It usually takes several weeks to prepare for, stage, and then dismantle a large-scale “Event” so it looks like the general public won’t be allowed to use this part of the park for most of the spring and summer.

  4. Thomas D Says:

    that’s the RHS show, it’s in about 10 days.

    You could start a new political party dedicated to opposing the corporatist and motor-vehiculist tendency in the city council. Something like Cardiff Residents Against Park Chaos And Ruination…

  5. […] new road into Bute Park then just take a look at these examples of private vehicles littering this once beautiful site. I should also say that there used to be signs proclaiming a 5mph speed limit on the public […]

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