Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 12:45 UK

Actor's fears over park's road

Matthew Rhys and Sienna Miller
Matthew Rhys played Dylan Thomas in the film The Edge of Love

Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys has spoken of his fears for Cardiff's historic Bute Park if plans to build a bridge and road to improve access go ahead.

He joined five other Welsh celebrities, including fellow actor Ioan Gruffudd and Griff Rhys Jones, in writing to the Guardian against the proposals.

Rhys said he did not think people were aware of the scale of the development and fears it will be a "disaster".

Cardiff Council said the bridge would improve the park's safety.

The authority has agreed plans to build a new bridge and an access road into Bute Park for delivery and maintenance vehicles from an entrance from North Road close to the Corbett Road junction.

It would link to an existing thoroughfare in the park and would be used for event and delivery purposes, such as to the council's plant nursery in the park.

However campaigners against the plans fear it will mean more major events being held in the Grade I listed city centre park, along with more and bigger vehicles using the access road.

"I was a little concerned, more than anything confused - why the park needs something like this
Matthew Rhys

Campaign group Bute Park Alliance is also concerned about the future of Sophia Gardens, Pontcanna Fields and Llandaff Fields, which are near Bute Park.

It wants a moratorium on development until the public have been consulted about their future.

Rhys, Gruffudd and Jones have joined together to back the campaign, along with Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals and film directors Chris Monger and Sara Sugarman.

The six put their names to a letter in the Guardian newspaper calling for a suspension on development in the parks.

Rhys, who was born and brought up in Cardiff but now lives in Hollywood where he films the TV series Brothers and Sisters, said he feared the development would "scar" the park.

He had heard about the campaign but said he did not realise the scale of the plans until he returned to Wales for the Bafta Cymru ceremony, which is this Sunday.

Bute Park
Bute Park was originally the private garden for Cardiff Castle

"Having seen what the proposed plans are, it's only strengthened my opinions that it could only be a disaster for the park," he told the Media Wales website.

"I was a little concerned, more than anything confused - why the park needs something like this.

"And to me it didn't quite make sense as to what this proposal was, to have this enormous what will ultimately be a scar on the park."

Rhys, who also played Dylan Thomas in the film The Edge of Love, said he spent a lot of time in Bute Park growing up and now when he visits his hometown.

Nigel Howells, cabinet member responsible for parks, said Cardiff council does not want to ruin the city's parks.

He said the road and bridge would provide the only "dedicated" access route for vehicles to get to the park's nurseries.

"It will take a whole host of vehicles away from a major section of the park, making it much better for pedestrians and cyclists," he told BBC Radio Wales.

He insisted it would not mean more events or more vehicles using the park.

He added that the access was also part of a "major project to restore major features in the park", supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Bute Park was originally the private garden for Cardiff Castle and was given to the people of the city in 1947.

Since then its central location has made it a favourite haven away from noise and traffic.

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