The derelict St Paul’s Church in Arcot St is now set to be demolished and the site cleared to build social-housing for rent.
The building is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and was the former base of Penarth Boxing Club but had to be closed five years ago for “health and safety” reasons even though the former Vale Conservative administration had allocated a budget of £250,000 for the refurbishment of the building.
Since Labour took control of the Vale Council in 2012, the shut-down building has continued to deteriorate, attracting rubbish, fly-tipping and rats and creating considerable problems for local residents.
The Vale Labour administration ignored Penarth public opinion and rejected the results of a public postal referendum held in the St Augustines Ward in 2014 which voted for the building to be restored for use by the Boxing Club.
The two local Vale Councillors Cllr Lis Burnett and Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) were accused of interfering in the process as they pressed to keep the Boxing Club out – and for the building to be adapted as what they called a “mixed-use community facility” .
They were however – not for the first time – swimming against the tide of local public opinion and pressing for an unpopular solution which the local referendum had already emphatically rejected.
Now the Vale Council is to – in effect – sell-off the site by disposing of it on a 999 year lease. It will be offered in a competitive auction to what are described as “the Vale of Glamorgan’s four local registered social landlords” .They are :-
- United Welsh
- Wales and West
They are being asked to “deliver a mixed use development of affordable homes and community use subject to planning approval”
In the fine print the council appears to concede the building will probably have to be demolished . The internal report says the successful bidder will have the option to “regenerate a derelict site either involving the retention and conversion of the church or by way of a new build scheme subject to viability.” [ i.e. flatten the existing building and build a new development on the site.]
Although St Paul’s Church is in the Penarth Conservation area – in truth the building is actually of little architectural merit .
It was originally built in 1863 as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel but burned down in 1905. In 1906 it was re-built – this time as an Anglican church and named “St Paul’s” . Several feet in height were chopped off the original finials and pinnacles on the front fascia of the building . The front window was re-modelled and reduced in height – giving the structure its current awkward, ungainly and inelegant appearance.
St Paul’s was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1940 – but repaired. It was bought by the forerunner of Penarth Town Council – Penarth Urban District Council – in 1967 for £2,500 and later passed into the hands of the South Glamorgan County Council during various local government reorganisations.
There was – apparently – one legal obstacle to the Vale Council off-loading the building – and that was in the form of a lease on the building which was held by the Penarth Amateur Boxing Club. An internal council report says that the council’s Project Board “focused on delivering a legal exercise aimed at facilitating a title unencumbered by the Boxing Club’s previous lease interest in the rear annex of the property“ . A deal was finally done at the end of last year – allowing the council to now get rid of a building it has described as a “massive headache”
It’s proposed that the winning bid will be selected “during Spring 2017 or soon thereafter”
The full chronology of the St Paul’s saga was reported most recently by PDN on http://tinyurl.com/zyt5qau