A colony of slow worms is to be given a new home in the Vale of Glamorgan before a new housing development in Grangetown can go ahead.
Proposals for 116 homes on an old railway embankment off Clive Street are expected to be decided upon by Cardiff Council planners in March.
But in the meantime, developers have been given permission to start preparing the ground for the reptiles to be moved to their new habitat at Cosmeston Park and Lake.
Last autumn, reptile experts took part in a month-long survey along the embankment backing onto Clive lane.
They found as many as 44 slow worms in one visit and estimate more than 20 adults live on the site.
The reptiles are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
It has also been recommended that some trees be removed before the bird breeding season, so they won’t be disrupted when work starts.
Pegasus is behind plans for the homes on the Network Rail land, which will also need a house and garage to be demolished.
The development would be off Clive Lane, backing onto the Ikea car park at one end and the boundary of Clive Lane at the other – an area which has become a target for fly-tippers.
Rhian Lees project director with Pegasus Developments told us:
“Residents may have noticed site clearance works are under way. Initial ecology surveys revealed a large slow worm population on the site and before any development can start the slow worms must be moved to a new home in Cosmeston Country Park in the Vale of Glamorgan.
“Because the process can only take place between March and September, Pegasus have agreed with ecology officers at the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff councils that the slow worms can be moved before any decision on the planning application.
“To help with the moving process, Pegasus have instructed a local contractor to remove the trees from the site before the bird nesting season starts, reduce the vegetation down to ground level and remove all of the accumulated rubbish.
“Once the site is cleared, a local ecology company will begin the process of catching and moving the slow worms.”
The proposals involve 49 houses and six apartment blocks involving 67 flats. The development will involve some private housing and others rented in a tie-up with Wales and West Housing Association.
The main planning document said local councillor Lynda Thorne is “very supportive, particularly as Clive Lane has become a target for anti-social behaviour in recent years”.
The embankment would be removed involving 60,000 cubic metres of spoil and material.
This will involve four lorry-loads leaving every hour.
Ms Lees said: “If planning permission is granted, work will begin on removing the top four metres of ground, to create a level development plateau. This process is expected to last approximately 12 months and will generate around 30 loads per day. Access to the site will be taken from the existing gates at Ferry Road and a ‘left in left out’ system will be in place.”
Planning application documents, including a transport assessment, can be viewed on Cardiff Council’s website and local residents can still comment on the proposals.
There are no plans at the moment for a public meeting but residents have been asked to contact Rhian Lees at Pegasus Developments on 02920 000065 for further information.
Talks with planning officials have already led to a reduction in the number of homes – and semi-detatched instead of terraced homes – and the size of planned car parking, which is now 150 spaces.
As part of the planning agreement, £140,000 would be provided for community benefit – and Grangetown projects and organisations will be invited to apply to the council.
The developers say the flats may provide “surveillance” to discourage fly-tipping and the possibility of restricting access to the lane for residents only by installing removable bollards could be discussed further once the detailed plans go forward.
Under the plans, 130 Clive Street and its garage would be demolished for a road to link off Clive Street (opposite the Bromsgrove Street closed junction) to the new homes.
The developers argue a “worst case impact” of extra traffic from the new homes of just 1.5% at the Clive Street/Penarth Road junction.
Some residents have asked about any issues relating to the old sewage pipes under the land but the developers said no issue has been raised in consultation with Welsh Water, who have only asked for more details about foul and surface water drainage should planning permission be granted.
There have been some objections to the proposals.