Dear Mr Richards and Mr Gething
I know you have received much correspondence about the Northern Meadows in Whitchurch but please take the time to read my email as I am suggesting workable solutions.
Mr Gething: Please do not approve any business case which involves the destruction of the meadows.
Mr Richards: I implore you and your Board to withdraw the offer made for the land swap with Velindre NHS Trust and rethink application 20/00357/MJR on the Whitchurch Hospital site.
I have suggestions of how all this could move this forward – to benefit cancer patients, communities and future generations, and with public support. Please, let’s work together and let’s look at the bigger picture.
The new VCC
Following Nuffield’s advice, co-location is required in the long term to secure patient safety, positive outcomes, and world-class training and research. With this in mind, there is no justification to building to the extent originally planned and destroying the Northern Meadows.
Immediately, Velindre could be extended upwards or outwards, and the Grange@Whitchurch used in the interim until full co-location on an acute site is possible (within the Heath Hospital refurbishment plans, possibly), to take the pressure off the current building (after all, £6million of NHS money has been spent on the Grange site). Focus also needs to be on building the satellite centre in Abergavenny as soon as possible.
The Northern Meadows
Through a Community Asset Transfer or collaboration between CAVUHB and the community, leave the meadows as they are. They are vital to biodiversity and to the mental and physical health of thousands of people.
In the short term, through 3rd sector funding and fundraising we would:
- Improve the paths, making them accessible to buggies, wheelchair users and those unsteady underfoot.
- Create nature trails.
- Display information boards.
- Create environmentally sensitive walkways from Velindre, City Hospice and Whitchurch Hospital.
Through 3rd sector funding in the longer term
- Connect with all sorts of organisations (eg. Mind, McMillan, Age Concern, City Hospice, local GP and social services, young parents groups, nurseries, schools, youth provisions and many, many more) and provide nature-based workshops and experiences to support wellbeing, rehabilitation, physical & mental health. There are so, so many opportunities to support people, introduce them to nature and its healing benefits.
- Create a cultural visitors attraction – Highlight the area’s history – The Cory Family; Lady Cory Field; the Old Cardiff Railway; the Glamorganshire Canal; Melin Griffith Tin Works; Renowned naturalist and conservationist Ronald Lockley; The Hollybush and its connection to the Welsh language; Whitchurch Hospital etc.
- Create a volunteer network to preserve and enhance the area. (Working with Cardiff Council and Forest Farm Nature Reserve).
- Create a core-staff team to manage these projects (potentially providing jobs for the local community.)
- Young people could volunteer as part of their Welsh Baccalaureate, Duke of Edinburgh etc. and undertake work experience placements. And those at risk of exclusion or disengagement from school could also undertake placements.
- Those on community sentences and on ROLT (Release on temporary licence) could undertake placements, supporting their rehabilitation, resettlement into society – providing new skills, work experience and improving self-esteem.
- And many, many more ideas of how this space could benefit the community moving forwards.
Whitchurch Hospital (WH) Chapel
Refurbished to become a community resource centre. It could hold a café, play sessions for children, all sorts of arts and crafts workshops, youth provision, after school clubs (working closely with the sports clubs in the area and children can engage in nature activities.)
The Military Medicine Museum and Britannia Park – Whitchurch Hospital
Across the city, decisions are being made that are distressing communities and putting mental and physical health at risk. The people of Butetown and the Bay are hugely distressed with the proposal to site the above museum on Britannia Park, resulting in the loss of precious and rare green space in the area and a children’s playground.
If it is 100% decided that Cardiff should have this museum (many oppose not only its location but subject matter) then it should come to Whitchurch Hospital. WH was used during both world wars. The elm trees on the common were planted as a gift to the community from American soldiers. Houses on Park Road were used to accommodate recovering soldiers. The gardens and meadows were used for rehabilitation of patients.
The architecture of Whitchurch Hospital is significant and is studied on university architecture courses. There is a vast history there. Let’s honour it and learn it all.
I know that CAVUHB wrote in support of this museum and that there is to be a project attached to support veterans. What better place than in Whitchurch where there is already precedence set for the rehabilitation of service people? With access to the meadows, the nature reserve and the support and opportunities I am proposing here, it would be really complementary and could be hugely beneficial to many.
It could also take an honest look at the advancement of medicine in relation to colonialism; health inequalities among lower income and BAME communities and hopefully show what we have learned and continue to learn and the steps being taken to improve things for the future.
Income generating schemes
- Friends of the Northern Meadows memberships
- Fundraising through all sorts of community events
- Children’s nature-based children’s parties
- Purchase a tree/flower planting for honouring a birth, other significant life events or in memorandum
- Name plaques (such as the Millennium Walkway or Penarth Pier)
- Long term – working with the Council and Forest Farm – development of the cottages at Forest Farm and then used for school trips, team building weekends.
- Corporate Away days.
- Formal, informal and non-formal opportunities
- Nursery, school and college visits
- I have made an initial approach to Pencoed College about running accredited courses at the Northern Meadows, WH Chapel and Forest Farm and will be exploring this further. Young people and older people alike could undertake courses on environmental studies, horticulture, animal and nature studies. We could train the next generation in industries that will work to secure healthier and green futures for us all.
- Apprenticeships for all aspects – building and refurbishment of the chapel, gardening to restore the historic gardens, customer service, hospitality in the community café.
- The list goes on but here are just some examples of opportunities and a full community consultation would provide many more. There are a wealth of skills and experiences within our community. I myself am a youth and community worker, and teacher (predominantly with young people at risk of exclusion and young offenders). We have people who are medical, teachers, academics, social workers, child-minders, artists, graphic designers, engineers, sports coaches, ecologists, solicitors, those working in hospitality, retail and many, many more. All these people can bring their ideas and experiences to enhance this project.
The community is exhausted. We are being made ill by the stress and distress. We have been subjected to months of abuse and vitriol online and have been bombarded by developers with tactically timed applications and amendments through the planning system, hoping to confuse and overpower us.
We cannot lose this crucial green space. Our children cannot endure being exposed to the levels of pollution this development will involve. Communities increased risks of flooding cannot be allowed to happen, not only in Whitchurch, but Llandaf North, Gabalfa, and along the whole Taff corridor into town.
These thing make people ill. These things have a massive detrimental effect on wellbeing, physical and mental health.
Please work with us to create something amazing. Something we can all be proud of. Something that will benefit us all and future generations. Work with the community to try and achieve positive change rather than against it or without it’s input.
Please do not go ahead with something that will divide and devastate our communities. That will be extortionately expensive, burdening future generations, causing irreparable damage to the environment and provide second rate, out-dated cancer care for the whole of South East Wales.
There is no need to choose between updated cancer care and the Northern Meadows. We can have both.
I respectfully request an acknowledgement and reply from you both and request to speak with you further on this matter urgently.
Please make the right choice for us all.
-, on behalf of the Save the Northern Meadows group