Velindre update - October 2020
I realise that many people in the community feel strongly about plans to build a new Velindre Cancer Centre on the northern meadows which many people have been using to get closer to nature and for recreation.
I recognise the benefits both of these bring. I also appreciate the land has rewilded to an extent in the 20 years in which it has been left untouched by the current owner (the Cardiff and Vale Health Board).
I know it is a compromise but I hope that the community will come to accept sharing the land with the cancer treatment centre if the business case for it is approved by the Health Minister, Vaughan Gething.
If so, I will be pushing strongly for guarantees that the remaining land, which is not taken up by the cancer centre, is open to Whitchurch residents so they can continue walking there.
- I have already asked about paths into the northern meadow remaining accessible to residents.
- I am assured that the cancer centre will not have a large fence around it so access will be open.
- The aim is to include a link to the Taff Trail to encourage more staff at the centre to cycle to work which I think is a positive step.
- There is also a buffer zone included in the plans to protect Forest Farm Nature Reserve land.
- I have already asked if the access road from Asda can be nearer the boundary of the land to avoid as much of the meadow being taken up.
- I have asked about whether the developer can reduce the footprint of the car park.
The centre has outline planning permission but has not yet been designed. The project team at Velindre are adamant that the local community’s input will be vital during this stage of the process. I believe there is also an opportunity to push for community benefits such as gifting land to local sports clubs and I will be lobbying hard for this to happen in due course.
As you may have seen, the clinical model for the cancer centre is now the subject of an independent review by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Minister has said he will be taking the Nuffield’s advice when he makes the final decision on the business case for the new hospital.
I was in support of an independent review of the clinical model after talking to clinicians in the community. I am pleased this action is now being taken and I will be asking Velindre about how this will work at my next meeting with the Trust. I understand that the Terms of Reference will be available shortly and have requested sight of these.
Outline plans for the development were passed unanimously in 2018 by the council’s planning committee and a recent additional application by Velindre (ref 20/01108/MJR) was passed in September. This concerned the Asda access route. The next planning meeting will consider the temporary roads access for the site. I will be putting forward a submission on these plans.
Having seen some of Velindre’s design vision for the site, I really believe it will be therapeutic for those patients who are desperately sick to be surrounded by nature in a building which incorporates as many natural elements as possible and blends into the landscape. The design ideas I’ve seen would mean a building akin to the light and calm of Maggie’s (the cancer support centre).
I am also reassured that the development team want to make sure the new hospital is part of the community.
The next stage of the process involves the Nuffield Trust review of the clinical model and the additional planning applications being scrutinised by the council's planning committee.