Local campaign against ‘aerospace business park’ on farmland next to Cardiff Airport

In Wales, UK, plans for an ‘aerospace business park’ on farmland next to Cardiff Airport are facing strong oppostion from locals. The land targetted for the development encompasses Model Farm, upon which the Jenkins family, having held the tenancy for three generations, since 1935, rear beef cattle and grow cereals and wildflower seeds that are sold throughout Wales. They were shocked when they were served with an eviction notice by the landowner: Legal & General, a financial services and asset management company. Within a short space of time a group aiming to save Model Farm, Vale Communities Unite, gained thousands of supporters and raised funds for legal fees to appeal the decision to grant permission decision. A protest was held outside the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) on 21st August 2021.

  • Protest outside Senedd (Welsh Parliament) to save Model Farm from demolition and support family facing eviction. Photo: THE NATIONAL, 22/08/2021
  • Map of layout of proposed aerospace business park. Graphic: Vale of Glamorgan Council, Planning Committee: 14 July 2021
  • Since 1935 four generations of the Jenkins family have worked on Model Farm. Photo: ITV NEWS, 23/08/2021

Gethin Jenkins said “We have been heartened by the local support we have had – people are aghast at the scale of what is planned.” Previously, he had told the Planning Committee: “Anything that will be built here, could also be built on a brownfield site within a three-mile radius. If you allow this development, you will not only be taking away my family’s farming future and my son’s home, you will be denying all future generations their right to see a vibrant countryside on their doorstep. One it’s built on, it’s gone forever.”

His son Rhys explained that his father had worked hard to create a productive farm, establishing a water supply including pipes and tanks in every field so that livestock could be kept in them. Improving soil condition was a long-term and complex project that had taken 60 years. Worried about the effects on his father and his future on the farm he said “I’ve grown up and thought I would farm, it’s all I wanted to do. It’s a kick in the teeth seeing my dad get upset. He’s worked his whole life, as has his father, to make the farm a success.”

Vale of Glamorgan Council Planning Committee had granted planning permission for the business park Despite more than 1,000 public objections. The prevalent reasons for objections were summarised as:

• Traffic congestion and lack of provision for new transport infrastructure

• Loss of farmland/ opposition to eviction of tenant farmer

• Detriment to local heritage assets

• Detriment to residents’ wellbeing and amenity

• Lack of need and justification the development, in this location

• Detrimental visual and landscape impact/ loss of open countryside

• Opposition to proposed Porthkerry Country Park extension

• Not sustainable/ will greatly contribute to climate change

• Nature/ habitat loss, detriment to ecology and biodiversity

• Loss of trees/ impact to ancient woodlands

• Local drainage infrastructure inadequate to accommodate development

• Flooding and contamination

• Opposition to illustrated Rapid Transit Corridor

• Procedural matters

The proposed business park site forms part of the Cardiff Airport-St. Athan Enterprise Zone, which the Local Development Plan states will provide a mixed use “airport city” development. In September 2021 the business park plan was stalled; Vale of Glamorgan Council quashed planning permission, accepting that Viability Information had not been included as it should have been within the Officers’ Report. The planning permission decision will be subject to a judicial review and considered in court before the matter goes back to the planning committee for another decision. Councillor Andrew RT Davies welcomed the news, urging members of the planning committee to reject the application when it comes back before them. He said: “The decision to grant permission at Model Farm was a betrayal of Rhoose and surrounding villages, so I am extremely pleased it has been quashed.” Local resident and Vale Communities Unite campaigner Maxine Levett said: “We’re very happy, we feel very relieved and very ecstatic that we have got to this point. We feel we have had some justice from the dismissive way that planning was conducted.”

This case of community resistance to an airport-related development is documented on EJAtlas, the world’s largest online database of social conflict around environmental issues: Business park on farmland next to Cardiff Airport, UK

Since the judicial review was announced the developers have resubmitted the business park plans.

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