Velindre Cancer Centre plans - my view

September 18, 2017 at 3:22 PM

Why I support plans for a new Velindre Cancer Centre

Here's what I wrote in a letter to residents earlier this month (September, 2017): 

I know the proposed plans for a new Velindre Cancer Centre on land at Whitchurch Hospital have caused great concern so I would like to set out all the facts which have led to my decision to support the scheme.

  • I am committed to helping bring about a new cancer hospital: I was elected on a manifesto pledge to support a new cancer hospital. I believe I must stick to that pledge.
  • Development of the northern meadows is inevitable: This goes back to a 1995 planning application by Cardiff & Vale University Health Board's predecessor which applied for planning permission for the land (including for housing and a hospital). I opposed this and called for the northern meadows to be incorporated into the nature reserve but, after a public inquiry in 1999, planning permission was granted. This cannot be undone. Development is inevitable.
  • A hospital is better for the environment than housing: I agree with the Friends of Forest Farm that, in an ideal world, the northern meadows would be integrated into the nature reserve. However I believe, like the Friends, that it's possible to work with Velindre to minimise the development's environmental impact. The design aims to blend hospital and green space for the benefit of wildlife and patients. The current planning application is an outline one and I'll keep a watching brief as plans develop, especially in relation to the impact on wildlife.
  • A 21st century cancer hospital will benefit the population of Cardiff and beyond: Cancer is the second biggest killer in Wales and Velindre already treats 5,000 new referrals a year and 50,000 new outpatients. The Trust predicts that by 2025 referrals will be up by 18% (48% for radiotherapy). Patients benefit from the hospital being close to the University Hospital of Wales at Heath Park where they may need surgery.
  • Velindre cannot expand onto the old Whitchurch Hospital site: The old Whitchurch Hospital site contains buildings and land which is grade 2 listed by CADW and cannot be used for a new cancer hospital. It was also deemed unfit for mental health patients.
  • Transport links: A new link road to the cancer centre from Coryton roundabout via Asda has caused concern because of the impact on woodland near the railway cutting. I understand this but believe this must be set against the overall benefit of the new cancer centre. The new access road will decrease traffic in the centre of Whitchurch too.
  • Concerns of Hollybush Estate residents: Proposed emergency access to the new hospital via the Hollybush estate is a big concern for residents worried about hospital parking spilling out to the estate. I've been reassured the road will be gated to prevent unauthorised access and will ask the Trust to consider placing parking restrictions in employee contracts.

Other claims by opponents of the Velindre Cancer Centre development

I have investigated concerns raised in a leaflet from Cardiff North Community Network and found many of these do not stand up.

The nature reserve will be further eroded by development in future: I believe this is FALSE.

  • The hospital plans include green 'buffer' areas to protect SSSI land and the nature reserve. Housing instead of a hospital would be far worse for the environment with domestic pets impinging on wildlife.

National Resources Wales opposes the plans: I believe this is FALSE

  • It does not oppose the plans provided that five planning conditions are met: the buffer zone; control of invasive species; bats; lighting and land contamination. I support these conditions being imposed.

The new hospital is an inefficient use of taxpayers' money: I believe this is FALSE

  • I do not believe that the environmentally sensitive site adds unreasonable costs to this project. The northern meadows are owned by the NHS.

Open Green Space is being lost to the detriment of our children's futures: I believe this is FALSE

  • Yes, I've campaigned for a Green Belt but I also believe we have a duty to our population to provide a centre of excellence for cancer treatment, and to provide a facility where the environment can have a positive impact on patients' recovery processes and help to relieve the stress of family members.

If you'd like to contact me to discuss any of your concerns, please ring my office on 029 2061 4577 or email me here.
Julie Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North