Councillors from Newport have called for creating a “green belt” in the North East Cardiff which would
prevent both cities from overlapping physically and culturally after long speculations which started last year.
The plans of creating additional green space consisting of trees were undertaken in response to Cardiff council’s developments. The city’s expansion plan involves building 2,000 new houses in Pontprennau over the next decade which is believed to breach Newport’s site.
Andrea Frank, an architect and urban designer of Planning Department at Cardiff University, said that presence of the open space in strategic spaces like the gap between Cardiff and Newport may be considered beneficial.
“We need to preserve it. Having that green belt between the two different and distinctive cities is probably desirable for various points of view,” she said. “The only thing I’m concerned is the land in-between Cardiff and Newport, which is quite low lying so there might be some flood risks. You don’t want to build everywhere.”
John Punter, a Professor of urban design at Cardiff University, said that separation and competition between cities is the key to ensuring the cities remain distinctive and different.
Despite Newport council’s fears, Ms Frank said that there is a big possibility that the borders between the two cities may disappear.
“It has happened elsewhere and I think it’s likely it will happen this time,” she said. Despite the fact that there are many concerns about how it could affect identities of both cities, Ms Frank reassures that the residents of Newport have no reasons to worry.
“The identity of both cities is still very different, Newport has a lot more industry and has quite a different image. Cardiff is more of a retail, administration and government city. But when two cities merge, it often happens that the administrative boundaries remain as well as the distinct, even if the belt would be narrow,” she said.
Many residents of Newport, contrary to the council’s policies, are enthusiastic about the plan. Jack, 27, said: “I think it’s a great idea, I work in Cardiff and I need to commute every day, maybe there would be more busses coming to Cardiff. Generally, I think it’s a good thing.”
The plan to merge the two cities remains still futuristic as both councils revealed that there is “no appetite” to merge at the present day, but a South East region of Cardiff is being looked at.
Andrea Frank explained that at the moment Cardiff and Newport might collaborate more and despite the plan reaching such distant future, Newport’s residents must remember that the cities always grow better together.
“But that’s up to the government to make a decision,” said Ms Frank, “the attitude of the two councils whether they want to keep the boundary or not depends entirely on them.”
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