The Heath Park railway extension has got some coverage today:
This is the miniature railway tucked away within the trees in the park. They want to expand it quite a bit into the park land. There is some info on what they want to build on in this youtube vid made by someone very much against it:
For me the key issue that puts me against the idea is that it is open to the public so infrequently. 13 days a year or something. The extention would be on public land, essentially making it unaccessable to the public most of the time. If the railway was open to the public, say two or three days a week (Thur-Sat) or something then this might be supportable. A decent miniature railway could be a decent addition to the city and its tourism etc.
But as it stands, it seems like it is just taking a chunk of public land and making it essentially private for very little benefit to the public who lost it.
Or am I missing something?
I actually went there earlier in the year for a birthday party (well my son did). I didn't even realise it was there until I ventured inside. it was a nice hot day and the boys really enjoyed it.
sorry, I appreciate I'm not really adding anything to the debate here
Do you think there is enough to it in its current form, or in an expanded form, to work as visitor attraction that is open much more frequently? Either to attract local people or tourists from further away?
Info on the proposal from the people who run the track available here:
It seems a totaly reasonable application to me.
The railway has existed ever since I was a kid and I'm surprised people don't know about it. It used to be on another site off Allensbank Rd and is much loved by local children.
The new track will only be fenced off to the public on thirteen days a year when it will be used to bring pleasure to thousands of Cardiff kids. Even when its operating it will only effect a very small section of a very large park.
The opponents are bunch of NIMBYs to be honest. This is a case of people who live on Heath Park Avenue regarding the park as their private garden and the street as their own private car-park. What they really object to is people parking outside their houses on thirteen days a year. The rest is made-up claptrap!
The old model track was off Highfield Road next to the railway. The land was sold by the old BR to build Heath Park Close. I had an uncle in Grangetown who used to build engines in his basement and who would run his engines there or in the Glebelands park alongside the M4 in Newport, now ancient history.
If no trees are being cut down and access for people and animals are maintained then what is the real problem. Kids enjoy the open days and I agree with Ash that the real reason is a gripe with parking when they run the trains on open days.
Even if they ran it as a tourist attraction it would be unlikely to be succesful in Heath Park, down at Roath Park or the Bay would be another matter.
Accessible? check the plans and you will see how much land will be accessible. On any day of the year, even when the trains are not running only a fraction of the area will be accessible. You can find the plans here
Link to plan
No mention is made of the fact that the area is home to two European Protected Species or to the fact that hundreds of saplings and trees of varying maturity would have to be removed. The society themselves say that visitor numbers will not increase and confirm that they will NOT open more often than the current 13 days a year. So what is the point?
There is a bigger point however, and that is the disposal of public parkland. Too much of Heath Park has been given away for development over the years and why should one private club be given exclusive access to any more of it? There are literally hundreds of clubs and societies consisting of entirely LOCAL people that use Heath Park as a base and only one club demands exclusive access to any land, ironically one whose majority membership comes from outside the area.
The club has a very large income from its activities so why on earth can they not buy a piece of land on a site which is unlikely to upset the people in whose neighbourhood they find themselves should they want to develop it?
The area under threat is one of rare natural beauty in the midst of a city and it must not be developed for the sake of the hobby of a small number of outsiders.
Check out the area by looking at these photos
Photos of Threatened Woods
There's some excellent information on the extension here
I know that from living in the area no one has tried to consult with locals. I guess the railway club know the feelings of the locals.
I agree with the OP.
I remember going to the highfield rd model railway and then to the one in heath park as a kid and loved it. This summer we took our 2 year old along and it was a brilliant day out.
A longer track through some woods certainly sounds like a good idea, but I have to agree that I don't think you can justify barricading off a large section of the park while the public can only go on the trains about one day a month.
Why is "Ash" picking on Heath Park Avenue? It's not even on the park and there are no parking restrictions in that road.
Turning green? Remember the saplings and young trees in that part of the wood were planted by "Friends of Heath Park Woodlands". This particular group have been working tirelessly for many years to improve the woods under the guidance of the parks Dept. To accuse them of suddenly "turning green" is somewhat unfair. The group consist of ecologically minded residents and surely you can see why they would want to stop the park being developed by a group who when it comes down to it are merely "playing trains" and have not spend anywhere near the same time and energy studying the environment with the aim of improving conditions for indigenous flora and fauna.
it was a reference to the fact that almost every time there is a development, someone somewhere plays the environmental card. occasionally, we may need to lose the odd bit of green space or cut down a few trees. The only people who can ever complain about the loss of greenery are those that have courage in their convictions and live outdoors and not in a man made house. If you live in a man made house then your dwelling was once green space and probably needed trees to be cut down for you to live there.
the problem with NIMBY's is that it's always someone else's problem and never their own.
Jantra, I usually agree with you about "NIMBYs", but in this instance do not. I was initially in favour of this development but, given limited public use of the amenity, and the permanent closure of a fairly big area of the park for private use, I think it should be rejected. Unless the private club pay a significant sum to purchase the land.
The comparison with the closure of Westgate St is not a particularly relevant one. The point here is that the area will be out of bounds for 352 days a year. That isn't the case with Westgate St when closure to traffic is very much the exception (a few days a year) rather than the rule.
I agree on the point about environment though. I had to laugh when the recent objections to converting offices on Windsor Parade to Student accom listed "possibility of nesting bats" as an objection. Bats, dormice and newts often seem to crop up in contentious planning cases. I imagine at other time, they are often treated as a pest!
Bats cannot be treated as a pest in any circumstances.
See Bats and the Law
And yes there are Bats in Heath Park Woods. The Railway club even boast that their new clubhouse contains bat roosting facilities.
Model trains aren't really that vital in any case. Why on earth would it be worth destroying all the wildlife habitat in those woods just for a model train track?
They wouldn't be able to purchase any of Heath Park. It's held in trust as public land. However, according to their charity page the Model Club make a significant income of around £60000 tp £70000 a year so they could purchase say a brown field site elsewhere where their plans wouldn't be so contentious. Seems the most sensible thing to do really.
Cambo you make a fair point, although I would argue similar restrictions work on public land vis a vis roath park lake and llandaff fields golf course. Both are public land (or were), both have restricted rights to the public. Yet both seem to work well.
I'm not in favour of restricting access to public land per se, but this is a small piece of land and is adding to an already well utilised facility. My youngest loves trains and when he gets taken to Heath Park its wonderful. Everyone else can have the rest of the park, let the (big) kids have a small section.
NB the reason the area is closed off must be more to do with stopping vandalism rather than 'elitism'
you make out that the only trees and wildlife sanctuary in Heath park is what is being proposed to be pulled down. it is a small part of the park and I'm pretty sure the wildlife would adapt.
I wonder if bats were in your own roof just how preservationist you would be then?
I'd obey the law of course. If there were bats I'd have to accept they were there and that's that. They are protected for a reason and that is.... they are endangered. Their preservation is a greater priority that a larger train set.
the existing section will still be there. So the (big) kids as you put it, will still have their "small" section without destroying any woodland habitat.
Putting the strong ecological arguements aside....
I think one should look at the bigger picture. Why should one particular club be given exclusive access to any part of a public park? Once precedent is set what's to stop another private club demanding public land? The council would then be on difficult legal ground if they refused. I come back to my earlier comment...the sensible course would be for the Model Railway club to use their substantial income to purchase a new site away from public parkland. They could then open as infrequently as they do now and develop as they wished (within planning controls of course) without disturbing existing protected species.
I seriously doubt that running a foot wide train track through some woods will have any serious detrimental affect on any wildlife.
I just don't think any private club should be allowed to fence off a large area of parkland when they only allow the public in for a few hours once a month.
If they opened to the public say, every other weekend both days then I would think that this was a great idea.
Just wonder how long before Godwin's Law comes into play on this thread?
A foot wide? The design and method statement says that the railway will be approximately 4 metres wide (double track apparently all fenced on both sides). The track is to be over 1000 ft long... so the area of woodland to be cleared for the track is significant. Additionally a 40sq metre pond is to be incorporated meaning that a further large area of woodland would have to be cleared.
I agree that its not right to fence of public parkland. The club do not plan to open more that they do currently which as stated is for a few hours each month. It's not hard to see why local people are overwhelmingly against the proposal.
Godwin' law has already come into play..several months ago! A supporter of the planning application made the said comment on the You tube video mentioned at the top of the thread!
Wait....just checked my post and this thread. No...no sign of Godwin's Law!!!! I don't believe I mentioned any other thread.
Godwin's Law was mentioned in a thread in 1998 somewhere - can't remember where. Should I have mentioned that in my post?? No, I don't think so.
I think the suggestion was that it can be found in the commentary of the youtube video linked to in the first post on this thread. I've not listened back to check myself.
It was one of the written comments to the video put up by an objector to the planning proposal..."Its a good job Hitler didnt win the war otherwise people like this would bein charge , God help us" ....the comment was made by one of the supporters of the planning proposal.
It was explained that it was Hitler who conducted a land grab against the wishes of a local populace!
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