Following the failure of the massive planning application to develop a 30-apartment luxury complex on the site of Northcliff Lodge – questions are now being asked about individual payments apparently offered to residents of the adjacent Northcliff Flats.
The Northcliff Flats and Maisonettes development was built in the 1970s on the site of the original Northcliff Mansion and takes its name from the “North cliff”.
This was a huge house which looked like a Swiss chalet and was once the home of one of the shipbuilding Batchelor brothers and a succession of ship-owners. It and later became a garrison for US Army officers working on landing craft at Penarth Docks in preparation for D-Day. It was demolished in around 1968 and the site cleared for the flats development.
In his devastating speech at Thursday’s Vale of Glamorgan Planning committee (prior to the vote which sealed the fate of the application) – Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) had observed that there had been a large number of objections to the Northcliff Lodge development in his ward but – he noted – “very few from the actual Northcliff Flats“.[ i.e the existing, fully-occupied, residential development constructed in the 70s along the cliff-top] .
He said “I’m sure there is nothing wrong with this – but all those people in the flats were told they would have a windfall of between £1,000 and £2,500” if the development went ahead – by virtue of “purchasing the car park” .
Cllr Roberts had said he wanted to make it clear he was not suggesting there was anything “illegal” about this arrangement – but the total amount involved was a quarter of a million pounds (£250,000) and he wondered what that did to the viability of the overall scheme. [PDN Note: The developers had claimed the development would be insufficiently profitable to enable them to pay the full amount of the required Vale of Glamorgan Council Section 106 contribution ].
At the last moment, on January 3rd, just two days before last Thursday’s vital Planning Committee meeting, Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) who is Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and a member of the Vale Planning Committee, had submitted a “Late Representation” adding her objections to the scheme.
This included her concerns that what she described as “the deficit in expected S106 contributions places a massive burden on the Local Authority and local Council Tax payers who will be required to fund the deficit in affordable homes and education facilities” . Cllr Burnett said she had “supported local residents in their opposition to this development since 2014” [PDN Note: The planning application was not actually submitted until 10/12/2015 ] and said she was “therefore not able to confirm impartiality” and would be unable to participate in the discussions or decision.
One PDN source suggests that, in some cases, the promised “windfall” to Northcliff Flats residents may have been even higher than the amount quoted by Cllr Roberts – and that some residents were offered up to £3,000 each in compensation for:-
- the transfer of ownership of their car park (which would have remained dedicated to their use).
- for agreeing to arrangements for a “shared refuse area ” for the residents of the new Northcliff Lodge apartments – when built.
It’s understood that most of the 100 residents of the Northcliff Flats had, in fact, accepted the offers, but it is unclear whether the payment was to be wholly conditional on the granting of planning permission (which was refused on Thursday night – as reported by PDN ( See http://tinyurl.com/hhzpo5t ) .
There was no mention of the “cash-offers” made to Northcliff residents in the developer’s planning application – nor in the Vale of Glamorgan Council ‘s planning report on the application .