A plan to renovate the derelict St Paul’s Church in Arcot Street has been rejected by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s project board after a year of delays.
In January 2015 a group, called “St Paul’s Shared Fitness Space CIC” [“CIC” stands for “Community Interest Company“], led by Penarth-based general practitioner and sports-medicine expert Dr Paul Williams had put forward ambitious proposals for turning St Paul’s into “mixed-use community facility“.
However the group – a “social enterprise company” failed to come up with an acceptable business plan.
The initial proposals by the group – who used the acronym “ST.PS” – didn’t contain anything like enough detailed business information for the council’s panel to decide whether it was likely to be a viable proposition.
The Vale Council demanded that the company provide set of finalised drawings and “more robust itemised cost estimates” from a professional quantity surveyor within four months.
At the same time the council had warned that “due to the deteriorating condition of this property, any extension [beyond four months] will be subject to reasonable limits”. Now time has run out and the scheme is dead in the water
A revised and more detailed business plan was suibmitted but the council’s internal Project Group has now rejected it .
St Paul’s Church – the former HQ of Penarth Boxing and Gym Clubs – was originally bought by the old Penarth Urban District Council for £2,500 in 1967.
It later was taken over by the South Glamorgan County Council before being passed to the Vale of Glamorgan Council in 1996 .
In 2012 the Vale of Glamorgan Council had decided that £250,000 should be included in the Council’s “Capital Programme” so that the premises could be made suitable again for use by Penarth Gymnastics Club and Penarth Boxing Club. The money was to be recouped from the Section 106 funding from Crest Nicholson in respect of the Penarth Heights Development. But the Capital Programme money was never spent, the Crest Nicholson Section 106 funding was never called in. Nothing was done – and the cash continues to be rolled forward in the council’s accounts – year on year.
The building comes under the control of the Vale Council’s so-called “Visible and Leisure Services Committee” which is represented on the Vale ‘cabinet’ by Cllr Gwyn John (Llantwit First Independents).
On March 24th 2014 Cllr John told a public meeting in the Paget Rooms in Penarth that St Paul’s Church was what he called a “huge headache” that had been “dumped” on the incoming Labour administration by the outgoing Conservative administration in 2012. He said then that the building was in such a poor state he recommended demolishing it and “starting again”.
[It is Cllr John ‘s party the Llantwit First Independents which keeps the Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council in power.]
The outcome of a public consultation carried out in the St Augustine’s Ward of Penarth which voted for the building to be restored for the use of the Boxing and Gym Club has already been ignored by the Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council .
St Paul’s Church in Arcot Street has a chequered history : –
- 1863 : The building was originally erected in Arcot St as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel
- 1882: The chapel was enlarged as congregations swelled.
- 1905 : The chapel caught fire and was gutted – leaving just the exterior walls standing. The Methodists decided not to re-build it and instead built the Albert Road Methodist Church as a replacement.
- 1906: The chapel was re-built as a church by the Anglicans and named “St Paul’s” . The re-build lost several feet from the more elaborate finials and pinnacles on the front fascia of the building and chopped them down to roof height. The front window of the building was re-modelled and reduced in height – giving the structure its current awkward, ungainly and inelegant appearance.
- 1940: It received bomb damage courtesy of the Luftwaffe
- 1987: Bought by Penarth Urban District Council for £2,500 – and then handed on to the South Glamorgan County Council and the Vale of Glamorgan County Council.
Now the Vale COuncil’s project board is “considering options” for the property. A total of £233,000 allocated to the project is being rolled forward into the Vale’s 2016/17 “Capital Programme”.