A controversial plan to fell several trees and build 30 box-styled apartments in 3 blocks on what remains of the forested headland of Penarth on the site of “Northcliff Lodge” – has been recommended for approval by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning department.
The scheme is now due to come up for consideration next week by the Vale of Glamorgan’s Labour-controlled full planning committee – a committee which rarely votes against the recommendations of its so-called “professional officers“.
Details of the scheme were first reported by PDN in December 2015 . Fuller details were later published on April 1st 2016 this year http://tinyurl.com/jfy65ts.
Penarth Town Council’s planning committee considered the application in April and voted to recommend that it be rejected (See http://tinyurl.com/joq9d9f )because it would be:-
- An OVERDOMINANT form of development that could threaten the future of the
listed buildings, Custom House and Marine Building.
- An OVERCROWDED form of development.
- It would be DETRIMENTAL TO THE ICONIC HEADLAND – known as the Bear’s Head and believed to be where the name of “Penarth” is derived.
- Penarth Council voiced particular concern about the potential loss of so many trees
However, now that the Vale Council’s planners have – as usual – ignored the comments of Penarth Town Council , and have given the scheme their blessing, the decision that really matters is that of the full Vale Council planning committee – which is to be taken on Thursday next week.
The proposed Northcliff Lodge 30-dwelling scheme is described in the planning documentation as being “overtly contemporary” – but it’s been castigated by some critics who call it “Little Boxes” – a reference to the 1960s hit record by Pete Seeger which satirised such developments and their attendant lifestyles.
The scheme has also been criticised by the environmental group Friends of the Earth. Dr Max Wallis who is planning coordinator for Barry & Vale Friends of the Earth has accused planning officers of “ bending the rules” in not providing the amount of parking-spaces which would normally required by such a development.
He says that the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s new Parking Standards document seeks high density development with reduced parking places near those town centres which have a range of facilities and are served by public transport. Dr Wallis says “The Northcliffe Lodge site is not “near” as in their definition, it does not have easy walking access to even a foodstore, whilst the minimal hourly bus service does not run from 7am to 7pm as the Standards require.”
Dr Wallis says that if the Vale Council planners applied their normal criteria, – which would include car parking space for each dwelling plus “amenity space” [ i.e. gardens] , a total of less than 10 dwellings would be allowed .
Dr Wallis says the planning officers’ acceptance of a “local company” applying for 30 apartments with quite inadequate car-space “suggests encouragement from the top”.
He also adds that “Labour politicians do argue for going-easy on parking standards when a development includes ‘affordable’/social housing. Yet at Northcliffe Lodge, the developer is wriggling out of the obligation to provide 40% affordable housing on the argument that the service charges they plan to levy would be over much for social tenants.” In conclusion Dr Wallis says “How curious that officers would bend the rules for crammed yuppy development on Penarth’s iconic cliff overlooking Cardiff Bay”.
[PDN NOTE “NORTHCLIFF” AND “NORTHCLIFF LODGE”
The original site of the existing Northcliff development was once dominated by the massive Swiss-chalet style mansion “Northcliff” which was once the home of one of the shipbuilding Batchelor brothers .
The smaller house “North Cliff Lodge” was built as the lodge to the main Northcliff mansion. The lodge still stands and was last valued at £1,200,000. It would be demolished if the the development is given approval on Thursday night.
The Batchelor brothers’ shipyard was in Cardiff – on land they had to rent from the Bute family . This is what their yard looked like :-