Furious residents say a controversial football pitch in Cardiff regularly floods leaving it “unusable”.
The area at Sanatorium Park, which is popular with dog walkers, was built for use by Fitzalan High School and the nearby school, Ysgol Treganna.
When unveiled, the plans sparked an angry response and even led to a “stand off” between Cardiff Council workers and protesters.
Now residents say the pitch, which backs onto the Lovell development at the old Ely Paper Mill site, is left “useless” because it floods heavily and is left waterlogged, something they had previously warned the council of.
Recent images show a large portion of the pitch, which is surrounded by high metal fencing, under several inches of water that often remains days after rainfall.
Local resident Will Henson said the pitch flooding was “inevitable given the land it is on”.
He said: “The issue is what proportion of the year it is likely to be out of use. Given last year, it isn’t likely that the pitch will be able to be used until well into spring.
“It seems likely that it will be out of use for around half of the school year in most years. I understand that a new pitch is needed to replace that removed during the construction of the new school.
“However, the replacement isn’t fit for purpose as it can’t be used, so a waste of money when it could have been built elsewhere. I wasn’t surprised when I saw the flooding, as the same area was underwater for a number of weeks at the same time last year.”
Kirsty Williams, another user of the park, said the pitch regularly floods intermittently from November to March.
She said: “Is this not the football season? Leaving maybe two months of likely decent weather only for the season. April and May.
“The goalposts only should be left. Everything else should be removed so that others can enjoy the space all year round. What an appalling waste of space and taxpayers’ money for a space that can now only be used for its intended purpose literally a couple of months in each football season.
“It’s heartbreaking to have to walk or paddle ‘around’ this unusable eyesore every day with my dog. A space previously he could enjoy a good run on. Waterlogged or not.”
Local resident Christine Hawkins said many had “warned” the council and councillors of the flooding and described the pitch as a “waste of people’s council tax”.
She said: “Well you can see how ridiculous it was building a football pitch on a piece of land that regularly floods. The land round the northeast side of the pitch is flooded, making access to the pitch impossible there.”
The pitch was originally planned for another part of the park but following objections by residents at Landsdowne Gardens, it was moved to the site near Ysgol Treganna.
In June Jade Rayment, a self-professed “wildlife enthusiast”, used just her bike and some handmade cardboard signs to turn council diggers away after they arrived at the park to start erecting a fence around the site.
More than 1,600 people objected to the plans and residents previously accused Cardiff council of giving them less than 48 hours warning before the work was due to start.
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Cardiff council confirmed that reports on social media that the pitch cost £80,000 were “inaccurate” but could not confirm the real figure as “is not in a position to release commercially sensitive information”.
A spokesman said: “Flood plains are designed to flood in order to protect residents’ homes and businesses from the worst impacts of extreme weather conditions. Across Cardiff many of these areas are used for sports pitches as a way of utilising land which could not be used for any other purpose.
“Although during periods of very high rainfall these areas can become temporarily waterlogged, in normal circumstances they provide valuable community sports facilities that can be enjoyed throughout the majority of the playing season.
“Currently all sports pitches in Cardiff are unavailable for booking due to the level four restrictions in place during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, however it should be noted that once flooded, flood plains cannot be utilised for any function, whether that is organised sports matches or other informal recreational activity.
“The improvement works at Sanatorium Park have been approved by the Council’s Sustainable Drainage Approval Body (SAB) and meet the statutory requirements of Welsh SuDS Legislation.”