Cowbridge – not Penarth – is now the “best place to live in Wales”

Penarth has been knocked off the top spot in the annual Sunday Times list of the best places to live in Wales. 

Last year the town was named by the Sunday Times as  being the best place to live anywhere in Wales – but this year that  accolade has gone to Cowbridge.

Cowbridge was named the regional winner for Wales in the list – which is due to be published on Sunday with judges saying that the town’s chic shops, affluent swagger and “designer clobber” put it ahead of everywhere else in the country .

Penarth is still in the list of the top 12 best places to live in Wales. Runners up to Cowbridge were  (in alphabetical order)

  • Abergavenny
  • Abersoch
  • Bishopston and the Gower
  • Cardigan
  • Carmarthen
  • Hay-on-Wye
  • Llandeilo
  • Llanidloes
  • Monmouth
  • Narberth
  • …and Penarth

Amongst the factors the judges took into consideration were crime ( it’s up in Penarth), education, and the judges’ own feel of each town – taking into account  local pubs, ease of transport and the range of attractive property available in the community.

Penarth is still in the Top 12 best places to live in Wales but Sunday Times readers may wonder if there is an implicit criticism of the number of charity shops in Penarth Town Centre

The 2017 Sunday Times Best Places to Live list is out this weekend

Helen Davies, editor of The Sunday Times Best Places to Live, described Cowbridge as “the smartest of market towns”. She said: It is less about dour old pubs and dusty charity shops”, [there are 9 charity shops in Penarth, not counting the Tabernacle Foodbank]  “…and more about tapas at Bar 44 and live jazz at the Arboreal bistro. There is an affluent swagger at high-street shops”.

It is the fifth year the Best Places to Live guide has been published and Ms Davies says this year’s is more personal, detailed and comprehensive than before.

Penarth AM and Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew R T Davies

Penarth Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central) has welcomed the news that Penarth is still in the Sunday Times top list and remains “one of the best places to live in Wales”.

He says “there is something for everyone in Penarth . Young families benefit from the excellent local schools, while retirees enjoy the fantastic community spirit and activities.He said it was a vibrant yet peaceful town, with lots of top quality shops, cafes and restaurants.”

Mr Davies said, “As someone who represents the area, it is obviously great to see Penarth named among the best places to live in Wales, but it’s important to consider the wider benefits this brings to the Vale. It really is excellent news, and we must congratulate the wonderful people of Penarth!”

The Conservative Leader went on to say  “The economic benefits this accolade will bring will be significant, and praise must go to the shops, small businesses and wider community who have made it such a pleasant place to live.”



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  1. RetailGuru says:

    Cowbridge, with NO train station and MORE empty shops than Penarth? Hmmmm, I don’t think so! People come from Cowbridge to Penarth – they report that Cowbridge is on its knees, particularly the shops.

  2. Geoff says:

    Penarth shouldn’t be on that list at all in my view.
    It’s been overdeveloped and is being destroyed by a Barry-biased council obsessed with bringing the place down and filling every square centimetre of space with social housing. Any old unique buildings (like St. Paul’s Church) are being knocked down for, you guessed it. The historic mansions on the front, once a trademark of the town, are like a red rag to the Labour-run Vale who insist on 40pc you know what, and when the place gets a lovely cinema on the pier, what happens? People manage to close it down for three days a week.
    I don’t know where the idea it’s a great place to live comes from – it’s been inundated with “families” from Cardiff intent on squeezing the lemon dry with the schools. There’s those horrible new Penarth Heights boxes, the people in the town are stuck up or fancy themselves (with no good reason) and there are too many cars, as well as people moaning about parking. It’s awful but also quite funny that it’s sliding down the list.

    • Michael says:

      You forgot to mention the endless places to fill your face here. Penarth is no cultural centre, that’s for sure. Look at the cinema closing, what’s happening about that Turner Gallery too. Now the Vale is getting rid of all the surgeries for an out of town supermarket style hub, there’ll be even less of a sense of community. Penarth’s terrible.

    • David Greerson says:

      I agree, it’s becoming very rough around the edges.

      • JTR69 says:

        Are you lot related to Victor Meldrew.?

      • Monty says:

        Victor Meldrew? He’s a pussycat compared with this lot. A bunch of moaning hobbyists who think they’ve found a comfortable place to indulge their misery.

      • Seth says:

        And what are you, Monty, here to put us in our place and prove we don’t have a point?

      • Jonny says:

        Wouldn’t it be utterly marvellous, Monty, if those of us with the temerity to question or raise concerns were replaced with automatons who accepted (with the smile of a village idiot) all that the “authorities” imposed?
        Imagine – those who were informed, intellectually superior to the rest of us and, of course, IN POWER, could do exactly as they pleased, without being remotely challenged by lesser beings who don’t know what they’re talking about/are miserable and negative/have absolutely no right to question the way their taxes are spent by the people in whom they put their faith…

      • George says:

        The Sunday Times judges must have wondered what had hit them when they came to Penarth – all this talk of an upmarket Gardens by the sea and just look… the place turning into a grim, spartan grief hole, any charm or character being steadily eroded in the drive for over-development of social housing, chopping down trees, horrible shop front fascias on the high street, nasty, grim grey streets – does it sound familiar? Note to Vale: must spend even more on Barry if you’re to get Penarth off the list altogether.

  3. Susan says:

    I think Cowbridge being voted top says more about the aspirations of The Sunday Times and its readers than it does about the merits of the town. Ghastly cardboard cut-out place, trying oh so hard to be a quaint county town and full of roughs with money in coloured Barbours thinking they’re “posh”, Dreadful place. That said, Penarth is far from perfect.

    • JTR69 says:

      Cowbridge isn’t a patch on Penarth. It’s like a film set with nothing behind the facade of the hight Street. You get bored after about 12 minutes there and can’t even get a train out of the place.
      Oh, and everyone dresses like Chris Eubank in a faux ‘County Set’ kind of way.
      I’ll take Penarth any day.

  4. Miriam says:

    Penarth is as rough as a badger’s bottom. Does “Bar 44” in Cowbridge need bouncers?

    • BluesMan says:

      I’ve been to the Cowbridge one and its worse than Penarth bar 44 on a Fri/Sat! The head cases from Bridgend invade the place causing trouble.

  5. William says:

    The biggest surprise is surely that Penarth is on the list at all. What merits does it have?
    peopled by know-alls and cliquey wannabes, very shabby-looking, endless charity shops and youths walking round with a hand down their tracksuit bottoms. It’s hardly Mayfair is it.

  6. Ollie says:

    Yes, I can see Cowbridge does have that air of comfortable affluence which disappeared from Penarth some time ago. Is there a list for social housing provision? Perhaps the Vale could get us shortlisted for that?

  7. Reuben says:

    When you compare the two pictures published, Cowbridge looks characterful and affluent and Penarth looks like one of those down-at-heel desperado towns in the Valleys.

  8. Chris David says:

    Cowbridge is hardly on its knees, that’s gross misrepresentation Ret G. It still has a “real” town feel about it with some real shops and pubs that sell good beer. Not in the least bit surprised its beaten our lovely – (but could be better if not under attack from charity shops, Barry and Labour)- Penarth. It has better parking- and even a Rohan outlet 🙂 Sure not perfect and has its fair share of poseurs- oh a bit like Penarth then hah.

    • RetailGuru says:

      …and when was the last time you had a conversation with any of the retailers in Cowbridge Chris? They SAY that they are absolutely on their knees, especially with the new business rates regime. More empty shops than Penarth – fact!

  9. heather says:

    Both Penarth and Cowbridge have their merits and indeed both towns have their minus points too. However, overall both of these towns are very pleasant and I wouldn’t mind living in either 🙂

    • Robert says:

      All things being relative. I suppose Penarth doesn’t seem so bad compared to Mynachdy.

  10. Chris says:

    I don’t expect Cowbridge has a “food bank”.

  11. Fishhenge says:

    Hopefully there’ll soon be a lot of whingers on the bus to oh so attractive Cowbridge. Permanently.

  12. Spot William, concerning , cliques , know alls and gossips and for some unknown reason the worst of the gossips think they are held in higher esteem than their victims . Just shows what small town mentality can do to people and that’s before we get to the reasonable ones or deem themselves so. Penarth classed as the worst town in Wales ?”NOOOOOOOO!…… IM NOT HAVING THAT!, THERES A TOWN IN NORTH WALES “?!……..couldn’t say Eastbourne sorry.

    • Chris David says:

      Oh Mr Worsley- at least you can talk to your dog in an arena of comprehension. How was Westgate St and the “seagulls” tonight?

  13. Frank Evans says:

    The worst thing about penarth is the area to the west of Redlands Rd if you know what I mean!!

  14. Dizzydeb says:

    Rubbish! Literally… The black bins are out in Glebe Street on a Monday when bin day isn’t until a Friday. This is making the street look filthy, what is wrong with the residents???
    Many shops look shabby and they should be encouraged to smarten up their facia’s. I have to say Cowbridge just looks smarter.

  15. Dizzydeb you have hit the nail on the head , its quite obvious a whole crowd of people don’t care what the town looks like . I myself have from time to time picked up plastic or paper dropped only 4 or 5 steps away from a litter bin and I have lost count of the empty or half empty drink cans or bottles that have for some strange reason been left on window sills as if they suddenly became too heavy . That is just lazy , dirty and childish and someone who would be at home living on rubbish tip . This is Penarth for Gods sake not some backstreet in a far east country (take your pick of several) where people walk through rubbish every day, as their is so much of it and so little effort from the Govts to clean it up, and rats and other vermin are common sights even in daylight . I know im wasting my breath on the retarded and couldn’t care less litter louts and idle so and so’s .
    I for one am sick to death of seeing cans , bottles, paper, plastic littering the streets , the number one topic of the Jones’ (the ones we have to keep up with!) used to be dog poo and they used to be very vocal about it, why are these same people not up in arms about the litter louts . The number one issue is litter, black bags , ripped open or not on the streets for days, and nobody seems to care . Its probably this that has led to the towns downgrading . What with idiotic , brain dead (out to lunch……. mentally )wasteful unaccountable Councillors both the people and the useless and comical Councils need to get a grip. Before we are twinned with a town in the far east as we will soon be on par the way things are being left to drift.

    • Chris David says:

      “for Gods sake not some backstreet in a far east country (take your pick of several)” Really? Evidence? It appears you haven’t travelled that extensively. By and large these counties you stab (in the name of god) are cleaner that the extremely filthy UK.

  16. I for one would much rather be in Penarth and am glad that we are fortunate to trade in such a lovely town… not perfect but far nicer than most, some attitudes will think the grass is always greener elsewhere but be careful what you wish for!

  17. bizzilizzi says:

    The charity shops are supported and run principally by volunteers and a small number of paid managers and most of their windows are arranged attractively. Thousands of pounds are raised by other Penarth volunteers for projects which are important to them from the needs of a local individual to major charities. In addition there are a lot of small projects supporting people with help, sport, social events and education.
    Doesn’t this say a lot for Penarth?

  18. Chris David says:

    Bizzi let’s get a few things straight about charity shops. The large charities pay directors huge salaries- in excess of £100,000 PA is the benchmark and some up to £740,000 all this plus pension expenses and perks. Even regional managers like our Mr Doughty MP was getting paid c £60,000 + by Oxfam! Then the shops- they exploit free labour at the expense of local business. Also why aren’t they employing (and paying under the Social Work Programme) people on job seekers allowance? That helps the benefit recipients and contributes to the country in general? They enjoy hugely subsidised business rate costing us the tax payer and again to the detriment of local business. The whole sector need a forensic audit and overhaul. Big charities are now big business in disguise and there to enrich members of “The Club”. As you point out there are plenty of small worthy causes to support. I for one wont be supporting any of the high St jobs. To put these salaries in context lets take a typical director costing £150,000 PA with salary pensions etc. That requires 30,000 generous donations of £5 just to pay him / her before the target sees a penny.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Very well said, Chris David.

    • RetailGuru says:

      Keep plugging away Chris, lol. Hey, wait a minute, you didn’t mention Nuffield??!

      • Chris David says:

        I did Ret 🙂 One of the Nuffield’s (I was rightly corrected, there are several “divisions”) is the outfit that pays the £740k +PA to its CEO. I’ll plug away at this until I cant function. Its a scandal and (in some areas) a con. We were having lunch yesterday with a senior member of a small but very effective charity in the medical sector. They were telling us how its a struggle against the big boys that spend huge amounts of their donations on TV marketing- sucking the money away from smaller causes. Causes where the “workers” including those at the top are voluntary- paid nowt, zilch. Top perk a free stay at a mid market hotel (not 5 star like the big boys) to attend a conference. People involved in charity for the right reasons. Here’s an idea- you state some charity shops are making £75k plus. You say that’s serious profit- to put it in context just enough to pay a regional manager like ex Oxfam Doughty. I say given the grossly unfair trading platform they enjoy- slavish labour and subsidised business rates they should pay half these profits back into their trading community- like Penarth, for local good causes and town support. The public are being forced to pay for the very expensive lifestyles of the charity bosses. Oh and you know I’m NOT profit adverse (that would be hypocritical) – take the risk- that’s risk take the reward but don’t pay the p**.

  19. Louise C says:

    Better a charity shop then an empty unit. The internet is killing the high st. Coffee shops & other eateries are the only way to make money these days. If you want the other shops to survive, buy something in them!

    • RetailGuru says:

      I agree, to an extent Louise. It IS better to have an occupied unit than empty. I DO feel that the business rates issue needs looking at though – some of the charity shops are making serious profits of >£75,000 p/a each shop (nothing wrong with that), so should be contributing a bit more to their locality and public services via business rates.

  20. Sorry Chris David for not providing enough facts to satisfy ‘little old you’ the words I should have used is some ‘third world countries’. It was nice of you to deflect my rant about how filthy and litter strewn Penarth has become into a rant of your own questioning my evidence of the state of backstreets of some third world country and completely side stepping the ‘real’ issue. I was on about the litter and the state of Penarth and the look of the town . Next time you deem to comment on mine or anyone else’s contribution try and stick to the issue at hand, and what they were stating and not go off on a tangent , and replace their comments with some smart a*** topic or put down of your own . I’m sure we all realise by now how wise and wonderful you are Mr David and in a ideal world we should all run our contributions past you first for scrutiny before running to print. But hey , !’nobody’s perfect’, I expect you to refute that last remark in your favour.

  21. Chris David says:

    Oh I agree “nobody’s perfect” and “deflect” ! I think I said “filthy UK” and whey hey- Penarth’s in the UK.. How’s the “seagull” dodging lately? Hope you didn’t drop your chips in Westgate St again 🙂

  22. J24 says:

    Penarth’s main problem is the moaning, conspiracy theorist, nimby conservatives dragging it down.

    • Tim says:

      What about the superior, sneering, know-all, do-gooder, head-in-the-clouds lefties? What are they doing to the town? Have a look.

    • Gary says:

      Yes, J24, all the standard terms of abuse in play – yawn – but it’s the Labour council taking the place to rock bottom. Have you seen the town recently? It’s so grim it looks Polish.

    • Neil says:

      What’s beyond hilarious is all these right-on lefties who move to Penarth to cadge the schools, secretly revelling in their house price soaring, only to suddenly realise the place is going to the dogs. There’s a tipping point for anything – for a while Penarth could still get away with it but the Sunday Ties judges have flushed it out as an also-ran.

  23. It wasn’t a tease Chris David , it was a put down from an individual who seems to consider himself superior in some way , saying it was just A TEASE is your way of excusing yourself , by making light of your interference , bad manners and put downs , Stop being an arrogant so and so then you wont have to substitute ‘ it was just a tease’ for an apology which lets you down lightly.

  24. Chris David says:

    Stop whingeing AW or Mr Bean, you were quite amusing with your unreasonable, frantic / hysterical rugby and seagull screams, but now you’re just getting more and more boring, and not even factual. OK ReT G but its not all bad in Cowbridge. I was really commentating on the general area. But when we visit we find the shops are busy, some good concessions like Rohan and the Bear et al is doing very well. We lunch, imbibe and er indoors shops there – we have had “by the way discussions” with retailers and they’ve expressed “doing ok” ! Not forensic I know but indicative. So what’s the problem then in this very busy. plenty of parking market town? Anyway bottom line is Cowbridge still has the country town feel it had when I was a boy. Penarth I love but it hasn’t the feel it had.

    • RetailGuru says:

      Chris, you don’t come across as naïve – but do you really think that Cowbridge retailers will have a mass winge if you ask them how things are? No, they’ll tell you things are OK. They want you to spend and spreading doom and gloom isn’t the way to do it.

      • Chris David says:

        Ret it just that what I see fits in with what I’m told. And by the way if you open up with he right words Retailers Will tell you what they really think, so no I’m not naïve Ret- just experienced.. But hey- I have no axe to grind. What eve heh.x

    • RetailGuru says:

      On the small charity vs big charity debate I’m with you, Chris. It’s really tough for small charity’s to be heard. What I do criticise though is duplication – eg lot’s of small charities doing the same thing and pleading for funding through government/LA grants or people’s loose change. Wake up and join forces, you’ll then be much more effective!

      • Chris David says:

        Well I’m glad you get / agree with part of it. Big big clear out needed but the top types are in the club just creating jobs for ex MP’s ( or keeping comfy seats warm for up n coming ones) etc to get back on the gravy train. Yes who’s naïve! Its a disgrace.

  25. As for your digs against me Chris David, God alone knows what your on about regarding myself , Seagulls etc .?………….. I do not eat chips from a fish shop so you can drop that dig .. I do not frequent Westgate St so you can drop that too , likewise and I have no problem from Seagulls.
    From now on either drop the childish , playground arrogance and verbal bullying or do not respond to my posts , there are plenty of others with manners and civility and knowledge , we don’t need you. Remember arrogance is a nasty trait whilst humility is to be admired . I suggest you try the latter instead of the former in future ( not that you will ,as you probably cannot help yourself, or so it appears).

    • Chris David says:

      That’s sexist Mr Jones, a disgraceful slur in all three Genders. For the record, Mr Worsley was not wearing drag when the gull attack happened in Westgate St. When the chips are down he comes up trumps.

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