The Northcliff Flats were built in the 1970s along the cliff edge

The Northcliff Flats were built in the 1970s along the cliff edge on the site of shipowner’s mansion

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”.

Northcliff House (Photo by Noah Shepherd)

The old “Cliff Villa” (a.k.a. Northcliff House) contained a large glass-domed ballroom. It was occupied by the US Army in WW2 (Photo by Noah Shepherd)

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.

Vale Council 'cabinet' member Clrl Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) - who friends say planned to vote in favour of the application covers his eyes as Cllr Gwyn Roberts continues his devastating attack on the proposals

Vale Council ‘cabinet’ member Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) – rests his eyes as Cllr Gwyn Roberts makes his devastating speech demolishing the Northcliff Lodge planning application

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 ].

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council lodged a "late representation" objecting to the scheme but was not present at the meeting.

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council lodged a “late representation” objecting to the scheme but was not present at the meeting.

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.

Northcliff Lodge is the white building in the centre of the picture

Northcliff Lodge is the white building in the centre of the picture and is adjacent to the Northcliff Flats

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 .

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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  1. Liz Wyatt says:

    I am a resident at Northcliffe who opposed the plans from the outset but I agree that the majority of flat owners had voted to sell off part of the car park to provide access to the site. I do not wish to defend those whose desire for £1000 and a new bin shed outweighed ruining the area and possibly de-stabilising the land, but I feel I should make a few comments in ‘our’ defence. First, a significant proportion of the flats are rented out, so the flat owners may not give two hoots about the consequences of their actions. Second, residents were invited to a meeting to vote on the decision of whether to sell the car park or not and we were encouraged to accept as the money would contribute to maintenance costs. So, perhaps some residents were guided by this advice rather than the possibility of their flats floating in the sea in a few years’ time.
    Thank you for your coverage of the meeting. I am thrilled and amazed by the outcome and will be writing letters of thanks to the councillors, (not something you hear every day) and Ms Greagsby who defended the cliff. It has restored my faith in humanity!

  2. Liz Wyatt says:

    To add to the above, to my knowledge, no agreement was settled, but was pending the application of the planning agreement.

  3. Peter Church says:

    Well said Liz Wyatts and a thank you also to PDN for covering the story from start to finish. Something other media outlet might wish to consider!
    I’m sure some of the comments on here are read by local councillors of various hues.

  4. Jonny says:

    Some people will do anything for money.
    Thank goodness for the likes of Liz Wyatt.

  5. Lloyd says:

    What a bunch of cheapskates. I certainly wouldn’t have accepted a thousand squid to destabilise the land beneath which I live.

  6. snoggerdog says:

    i know this has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the story above,but all the same i thought the readers of the pdn, would like to know one of my favourite tracks by ac/dc is “dirty deeds done dirt cheap” a very fine band indeed (if you like noise).

  7. Harry says:

    Well done PDN for bringing this story to light.
    Am sure this story would have been “lost” by other news outlets.
    The developers must have outlayed a huge amount of money in the faint hope of getting permission, think they should have done their homework a bit better

  8. Grey local! says:

    After the total destruction of trees and wildlife around the Penarth Heights development, and unsuccessful objections by local residents, I am amazed that the council would consider even more destruction of this area, particularly in view of the constantly eroding cliff just paces away from the current residential area. Anyone walking around the barrage to the pier will see and hear the constant dribble of water and debris coming away from the cliffside.
    Surely enough is enough. Penarth is over developed as it is.

  9. Harry says:

    I think since Penarth has appeared on all these national surveys as – the place to live – lots of newbies have discovered it, which is great, but then they want to change and change and change it again. I’m all for change where appropriate , certainly, but we have seen some daft things with the cellar episode in Clinton Road, the huge extension to the detriment of their neighbours in Knowbury Avenue, and now the large boxes at Northcliffe, which inevitably will fall off the cliff – bet insurance would be a problem there, and we have seen the developers greed there at paying large sums as inducement to residents whether they get approval or not. Welll done to those who a standing firm against these plans.

  10. Penileaks says:

    It’s not just those of Northcliffe apartments who have been offered incentives to not oppose this development, I know of one resident of Northcliffe Drive who has been incentivised to not oppose the application.
    The Vale Planning Officers who recommended the approval of this application are clearly reading off a different ‘planning suitability hymn sheet’ to the rest of us, as the proposed buildings do not in any way fit in with anything in the area, have had all normal requirements to grant such permission ‘tweaked’ to suit the developer (such as S106 contributions and parking requirements), and where the buildings are proposed for is on a probably unsafe area of land.
    Do the Vale planners and Mr Goldsworthy actually live and work in the developers world in this matter and not in the ‘protect the public’, ‘protect the environment’ and ‘protect the planning norms’ one that they should be living and working in ?

    • Geraint says:

      Agreed, I am becoming increasingly intrigued by how this ‘proposal’ ever came this far…

  11. mad says:

    thank you councillor clive williams, for your total support in our ward and reversing the Vale conservative councillors vote. I cannot vote for you, but if you go independent next may I know others that will.

  12. St Augs says:

    As a resident of Northcliffe I would like to state very clearly that the information presented in this article is totally false and seems to be based on rumour and hearsay. No individual payments have been offered, and the parts about transfer of ownership of the car park and shared refuse are are also both completely untrue.

    The facts are simple and honest. Northcliffe owners were approached by the developers via our management company who wanted to buy a small strip of land at one end of the site to provide access to the new development. After a meeting, those attending decided that the decision should be put to the vote of all owners. We voted and the result was about 70% in favour to sell the land, subject to planning approval.

    Had the sale happened the money would have gone to the management company to spend on the flats and grounds.

    It was all completely above board and democratic and I’m afraid people suggesting otherwise, councillors included are just out to cause trouble.

    • NewsNet says:

      The news item was based on a statement made in the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee by Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) and supported by further comments made by local residents. You may wish to revise the actual comments made in the Planning Committee by going to http://tinyurl.com/zyzjf4s. Cllr Roberts’s comments are made at 43 minutes 45 seconds into the recording.

  13. Ford Prefect says:

    I would like to agree with St Augs, I was also a resident at Northcliffe and completely agree with their version of events.

  14. Resident says:

    As a resident of Northcliffe the above is not false, though I agree there were no dirty tricks afoot. Residents were advised by the management committee to accept the offer from the property developer and I’m sure intentions were honourable. Some residents suggested asking for more. At the meeting it was clear that money would go towards maintenance rather than there being any direct cash payments, but payments to flat owners from this money was discussed. At the time we had not seen the plans, and now on reflection, the vote to accept seems even more daft. Let’s hope we can put this behind us.

  15. St Augs says:

    ‘Resident’, please see the key points regarding Northcliffe below:

    “but all those people in the flats were told they would have a windfall of between £1,000 and £2,500” – this is false, it did not happen

    “that some residents were offered up to £3,000 each” – this is false, it did not happen

    “the transfer of ownership of their car park (which would have remained dedicated to their use)” – this is false, it was not an option

    ” for agreeing to arrangements for a “shared refuse area ” – also false, never an option.

    It is upsetting that someone like Councillor Roberts can say a bunch of stuff that he has no proof of at a meeting, then PDN can publish it online and suddenly people are talking about it, thinking about it when in fact these things simply aren’t true.

  16. Liz Wyatt says:

    Sums of £1000 were discussed, (though I’m not sure where the £3000) came from, a resident raised the idea of asking the developers for new refuse areas in addition to the money for selling the car park and, I’m sorry if I’m being thick here, but what is selling part of the car park if not transfer of ownership for money?

Comments are closed.