The latest plans submitted for the redevelopment of the former Marine Parade mansion “Gardenhurst” are being opposed by Penarth Town Council’s planning committee.
Gardenhurst is the huge Edwardian mansion – now masked by trees – at the junction of Holmesdale Place and Park Road which originally been the home of Pegler family grocery dynasty .
The 30 room mansion was given by the Peglers as a gift to the people of Penarth to ensure that the “elderly people in Penarth would be cared for” – and had been used a care home by the Vale of Glamorgan Council until the council sold it for £1,225,000 to multi-millionaire Philip Day’s EWM Property Company [which also owns the derelict eyesore mansion “Normandy” and the mansion next door to it “Ashdene Manor” – both in Bridgeman Road.]
The plans propose to convert the existing Gardenhurst mansion into 5 new apartments and build 4 new three-storey town-houses – each with its own garden – within the Gardenhurst grounds . . The overall appearance of the mansion itself would remain largely unchanged.
For this second planning submission, the appearance of the proposed 4 town houses has been modified – following Penarth Town Council’s objections to the original scheme .The new planning application says the character of the Conservation Area would be enhanced by “selective arboricultural works and the reinstatement of the stone boundary wall and railings, to match good examples of similar treatments nearby in the Conservation Area”.
In last night’s meeting of Penarth Town Council’s planning committee the chairman Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) said new development wasn’t very different from the first scheme and proposed 9 on-site car-parking spaces for the 9 proposed homes (i.e. flats and houses) which – he told members – “some of you may regard as being less than adequate”.
Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) – said three of his ward constituents had lodged “very strong objections” and he “completely endorsed all that they said”. Cllr Williams said all the parties involved – including the local residents – wanted to see the development carried out but said “I cannot understand why these applications are so devoid of an appreciation of the planning procedure.“ Cllr Williams said ” Somebody is not getting good guidance here”.
Cllr Williams said he thought the latest proposals for conversion of the mansion had been done “reasonably well “ but the re-designed town houses were still ” totally out of keeping “ with the area. Cllr Williams wanted to know why the developers “had not done something which was more sympathetic to what the people who were objecting were asking for”.
Cllr Thomas said the committee agreed with what Cllr Williams was saying. He noted there was “some expansion of the main building in the north-west corner” but this was not a huge extension. The main “bugbear” – as he put it – was the town houses on the [present] car park and the lack of parking within the site “in what is already a heavily-parked area”.
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) said Cllr Williams was absolutely right . It was public knowledge that a lot of money had been spent on this development and clearly the developer “wants to make some money out of it” but it was a question of “balance”. The council wanted to see the house in occupational use – and the council knew from other buildings nearby that “there are issues if we do not allow development to take place” . The council did not want to have “another Normandy” on its hands.
However, Cllr Wilson said that in his view “four [town] houses does seem rather a lot” . He suggested that the Penarth planning committee should reject the application but would welcome the applicant talking to the Vale of Glamorgan Council planners to reduce the development to a “more manageable and sustainable scale – which would probably placate some of the residents who live in that area – and also reduce some of the impact on traffic”
Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Labour Cornerswell) said that the first application for the Gardenhurst site had been bigger than the present one – and the developer was “obviously going to make a profit “. The new application was smaller – “and he’s still going to make a profit” . Cllr Birch [who like Cllr Wilson and Cllr Williams is also a member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Planning Committee] said “my thinking is that he’s probably got at least one more fall-back position – in which he will still be making a profit” .
Cllr Birch also dismissed the developer’s claim that the proposed town houses were “of the vernacular, appropriate and contemporary” . “This is definitely hideous “ she said .
Cllr Williams said he was pleased that there was “big money coming in “ to develop Normandy, Ashdene Manor and Gardenhurst but felt the developers were “not getting the proper guidance in planning” . He thought that if the development of Gardenhurst mansion was carried out properly the developer would make his money back on just on the main house. Flats in Penarth were selling for between £680,000 and £1,000,000. Cllr Williams said he thought there was a “better solution” in respect of Gardenhurst.
Summing up Cllr Neil Thomas – in the chair – said the committee would recommend the Vale Council reject the new application but would “urge the owners to enter discussions with the [Vale] planners to develop an acceptable plan “ . Cllr Thomas said he would also urge the developers to go ahead with the “other developments” [i.e. Normandy and Ashdene] as soon as possible . They were eyesores. It was in Penarth’s interests for them to be completed in a manner sympathetic to the Conservation Area and to “planning rules“.
Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) who is deputy planning chair, leader of the council and Mayor of Penarth noted that there had been a lot of discussion about the “profit motive” but that such considerations were not a planning matter.
Penarth Town Council’s decision not to support the new Gardenhurst application will be passed to the Vale of Glamorgan Council full planning committee which will make the final decision on the Gardenhurst project in due course.