Recent news has emerged that a huge Cardiff Bay development proposed for the industrial land off Dumballs Road could still go ahead, despite massive set backs in the form of redundant planning permission and accounting irregularities of the developer.
Outline planning permission had been granted in December 2007 for development, named Havannah Quay which had included plans for 2,000 residential units, office space and a 24-storey five-star luxury hotel. Cardiff Council estimated that the development was worth over £30m to the city and would create thousands of new jobs.
Part of the conditions of the planning permission granted insisted that the developer, Ocean Developments LTD, build both an £850,000 pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Taff, £1m towards bus links to Cardiff Bay, a water taxi station and the creative industries incubator unit.
However, it was reported in February by Wales Online that the owner of Ocean Developments LTD, Phillip Bowles, had been convicted in 2009 for VAT irregularities totalling £1.2m over the sale of land that was ultimately to become Century Wharf.
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Bowles, 60, of Maidenhead, is charged with failing to pay the VAT element of the sale of land formerly known as ‘Taff Island’ to Persimmon Homes in 1999. However, the case against him was far from cut and dried. Judge Anthony King even ‘publicly wavered’ over jailing Bowles and there was wide-spread coverage in the national media at the time as to whether HMRC had allowed Bowles a fair trial. As the owner of Ocean Developments LTD (and ultimately, Havannah Quay), it is unlikely that Bowles will have any input into the much needed development anytime soon.
It is claimed that the development was stalled for so long as the caveats of the planning permission could not be agreed to. However, it has recently emerged that Cardiff Council Planning has received an email from an unspecified source suggesting that the development may be back on track. We contacted Cardiff Council Planning who told us Dovey Estates were behind the last minute contact and we could not reach anyone at Havannah Quay or Ocean Developments LTD.
This leaves several important questions for the residents and businesses of Dumballs Road and beyond. There is no question that the area desperately needs to be developed. There are scores of businesses based on the site and local residents have questioned why the area looks so run-down. It has even been suggested that local property owners have not invested in their premises on the promise that the development was to go ahead.
Regardless of whether the Havannah Quay development ever gets off the ground, uncertainties remain over the hundreds of jobs the industrial units provide.