DERELICT open land formerly subject to a massive campaign to save it from a housing association residential development could now undergo a transformation.
Land adjoining Barry’s Cemetery Approach had been earmarked for building work until residents fought a successful battle, in 2008, to save the site.
Thousands signed a petition and wrote letters objecting to the scheme which was eventually rejected by the Vale Council’s planning committee.
The area concerned could now, following public consultation and as a result of a Vale Council and Barry Town Council partnership, become a community garden and nature area – an idea welcomed by the Save Cemetery Approach Action Group.
Vale Council cabinet member for leisure, parks, culture and sports development Cllr Gwyn John said: “Thirty-one per cent of respondents voted for an open community garden and 25 per cent for allotments.
“Unfortunately contamination of the land in the past by ash and slag makes the area unsuitable for allotments, so we plan to develop the land as a community garden and nature area. Barry Town Council has expressed an interest in managing the land and we will be talking with them about this in the near future. We will also be investigating grant funding for the project; to include if possible grant funding through the Armed Forces Community Covenant Scheme.”
Plans are under way to clear the site of excess vegetation and debris in preparation for work to start on the community garden.
Town council leader Cllr Stuart Egan said Barry Town Council welcomed the opportunity to work with the Vale of Glamorgan Council on this special project to transform the derelict land on either side of Cemetery Approach.
He said: “This will be a very ambitious project and will need the help and support of the residents of Barry both now and in the future to ensure we can deliver a scheme that the whole of Barry can be proud of.
“The scheme will need to deliver the aspirations of the town both in the short term and the long term. Anything we do must be sustainable and be there for future generations to enjoy and cherish.”
The Save Cemetery Approach Action Group management committee welcomed progress on the project to create an open community garden at this location.
A group spokesman said: We support the involvement with Barry Town Council and the initiative to seek funding from the Armed Forces Community Grant Scheme.”
He added: “We believe this is an ideal project for public participation and it is a pity that the report was dealt with as an urgent item since members of the public would not have been aware of its inclusion on the cabinet agenda.”
But Barry Town Plaid councillor Shirley Hodges raised some concerns while welcoming the land being set for public use.
She said plans and costings for the project had been drawn up by the Vale Council with a view to the town council delivering and funding the Vale's project.
She said: “The town council needs to discuss it and have some ownership of this project.
“Labour run the town council with three of them on the Vale cabinet, the leader of the town being the deputy leader of the Vale. So it is obviously an advantage to them that the town council meets the cost of their project especially when you consider this likely to be in the region of £400,000.
“We feel the town council could phase the project over a few years, use unspent money - this year £100,000 last year £60,000 - and money in reserves, without putting up council tax.”
She said she would like the Vale to legally designate Cemetery Approach as public open space again to protect the land beyond any lease the town council may take out, and also make a significant contribution in terms of resources and technical advice.