The 3 proposed new apartment blocks for the Northcliffe Lodge site. The artistic impressions were criticised in the previous planning committee hearing for giving a false impression of how much tree cover would actually be left . It was pointed out that buyers of the high-priced luxury flats would demand unobstructed views

The revised version of the controversial scheme to develop 30 luxury apartments at Northcliff Lodge -overlooking the Custom House and Cardiff Bay – has been recommended for refusal by Penarth TownCouncil’s planning committee. 

The proposal would involve the removal of several trees and the erection in separate tiers of three of luxury apartment blocks in staggered intervals down the steep cliff face.

January 2017 : When the original Northcliff Lodge planning application had been discussed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee in January 2017  Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) – who friends say planned to vote in favour of the application  – covered his eyes as Cllr Gwyn Roberts delivered a devastating attack on the proposals

The original – almost identical – scheme was first proposed last year and was comprehensively rejected in January this year by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee after an impassioned criticism of the plans by former Vale and Penarth Town councillor Gwyn Roberts (then Labour St Augustines). [Cllr Roberts retired as a Vale Councillor in May and was not re-elected when he stood again for Penarth Town Council.]

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)

The Leader of the Council Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines)

Last night two members of Penarth Town Council’s planning committee – its chairman Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines) and the Leader of the Council, Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) – both declared an interest and absented themselves from the council chamber for the duration of the discussion on the grounds they both know the architect of the Northcliff Lodge scheme [Chris Loyn ]

Cllr Gary Allman (Conservative St Augustines) also left the chamber at this point.

Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Labour Cornerswell)

By prior arrangement the chair was taken by Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Labour Cornerswell), who is not a member of the planning committee and is consequently not allowed to vote.

Cllr Birch’s husband Cllr Mark Wilson also remained in the chamber but he too was there in the capacity of a non-voting councillor.

Like Cllr Birch, Cllr Wilson is also not a member of the planning committee in the current Penarth Council .

North Cliff Lodge – a Swiss-style mini-mansion in its own right valued at £1,200,000 was the “lodge” of the main mansion “Northcliff” – earlier known as “Cliff Villa”.

The Town Clerk Emma Boylan then proceeded to outline the revised version of the Northcliff Lodge. She said the proposals would involve the demolition of the “existing dwelling [ i.e. Northcliff Lodge ]  and  outbuilding, the erection of 30 apartments , new access and alternations to adjacent parking area, replacement tree planting and landscaping and associated works”   .

The Town Clerk said this was a “re-submission application” and explained (for the benefit of newly elected councillors) that in the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee in January  had “raised concerns over the scale massing and form of this development and its inpact on the immediate and wider landscape setting” .

The developer’s photo-montage of what the new apartments might look like – set into the existing headland. The existing Northcliff flats are on the upper left – but in fact far more trees would be removed than shown here

The Vale Council’s planning committee had refused the January application because it was “overscaled and incongruous in the street scene and within its coastal headland context and would fail to either preserve or enhance the character of the nearby Conservation Area -listed building .” 

The Town Clerk told the committee that the new development proposal   involved the demolition of the existing dwelling and outbuildings, the consgtruction of a new access and “subsequent rationalisation of the parking area of the existing apartments[ i.e. the existing Northcliff flats which were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the site of the original Cliff Villa/North Cliff mansion]  .

She said the changes to the original Northcliff Lodge application [ the one rejected in January] included “reductions to Block B” revisions to Blocks A and C,   changes to the colours of the exterior finishes ,  a reduced gap between Block A and B, amended gradients, improved amenity and pedestrian spaces and “enhanced landscaping”.

One of the three proposed Northcliff Lodge apartment blocks. The exterior rendering has been amended from that in the previous application

She said the revised Northcliff Lodge design had been changed to “reduce the massing of the structures and to disseminate the building into the Headland  landscape”   . Quoting the developers, the Town Clerk went on to say that “an additional investigation had been prepared to consider and access the  issues raised in relation to the impact on the adjacent heritage  assets and wider visual amenities “.

The Town Clerk then came to the vexed issue of Section 106 payments – the money which developers are normally required to pay to a local authority [ in this case the Vale of  Glamorgan Council] in order to compensate for – and mitigate the impact of – their proposed development on the local community.

She revealed that the developers [ Celtic Developments (Penarth) Ltd]  are now proposing a total payment of £300,000 in Section 106 contributions made up of:-

  • £270,335 towards “off-site affordable housing”
  • £29,665 towards “community facilities”

Cllr Birch – in the chair –  opened up the matter to discussion by the committee

Cllr Martin Turner,

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) who was attending the planning committee meeting with his newly-elected daughter Cllr Kathryn McCaffer (Conservative Plymouth Ward) wanted to clarify that the Vale Planning Committee had voted against the original proposals for Northcliff Lodge and in doing so had rejected the recommendation of the Vale Council’s own planning officers who had recommended acceptance.  This was confirmed to be the case.

Cllr Turner said that presumably the revised scheme which had now been submitted was the consequence of further discussions between the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning department and the developers in order to address some of the issues raised by  Vale councillors in the Vale Planning committee.    This too was confirmed.

Cllr Jon Luxton (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Jon Luxton (Labour Stanwell) said it was good to see that improvements had been made to the proposed buildings  to make them “less incongruous to their surroundings”  but  he returned to the issue of the developer’s Section 106 contributions  – and described the offer of £300,000 from the developer as “quite low”.

Cllr Luxton said the Section 106 figure SHOULD be £1,100,000.  He also said the developer’s offer of £300,000 was what he described as “a very round figure” which he found “strange” . He said that “no real evidence” had been provided regarding the issue of the ground and footings which was one of the reasons which the developers had given for reducing what would ordinarily be a Section 106 payment of £1,100,000.

Cllr Luxton said “Without providing actual evidence I don’t see how or why we as a community and a council as a whole should be subsidising a building project which seeks to – and will provide –  much profit for the builders. I can’t see why they should not be paying   the proper amount of £1,100,000.”

Cllr Birch asked where the “£600,000” disparity had come from  .

Cllr Luxton said it was a rough calculation. He said  £679,000 should be the contribution towards social housing . On top of that should be  £209,000 for education, £29,000 for community facilities,  £68,0o0 for open spaces, plus another 1%.

Cllr Martin Turner queried whether there had now been a change of regulations which involved the Town Council in deciding how Section 106 money would be spent.

Cllr Birch in the chair said that her understanding was that the Town Council could be consulted and indicate its wishes on what it wanted Section 106 moneys to be spent on but the town council’s wish list was not statutorily binding on the Vale of Glamorgan as the planning authority.

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson said Penarth members of the Vale Council would be consulted on such expenditure.  Some of the Section 106 money would be discretionary and much of it would be put towards education. One of the issues facing Penarth was that local schools were very full, lots of them were at over-capacity. There were no plans to build a new school in Penarth in the near future . New housing developments in the town had a “cumulative effect” – a “knock-on-effect” elsewhere in the town [even if people who bought these new homes might not themselves have school-age children].  Any new housing also tended to increase pressure on parking in the town

Cllr Wilson said he was also concerned about the “visual infringement” which the proposed  development would bring about. It would take away a lot of the trees and would make Penarth a “worse place in lots of ways” – but, in conclusion, pointed out that he was not a member of the Penarth Town Council committee

Cllr Laura Rochefort (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Laura Rochefort (Labour Cornerswell) said of the developers “We don’t know what their profit margins are  or how much money they are going to make. It is going to cost a lot of money to live there [ on the proposed Northcliffe Lodge development ] . The amount of money which we get from Section 106 is not enough . I don’t think we can justify being given just £300,000”  

Cllr Martin Turner noted that members of the previous administration of Penarth Town Council in considering the earlier scheme (in January 2017) had had the benefit of a site visit.   He suggested that another site visit be arranged for the benefit newly-elected councillors on the planning committee. He said that the committee should be considering the matter on the basis of the planning issues involved  – and the matter of Section 106 money would follow from that. “How much money the builders are making is not necessarily a planning constraint”

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Ian Buckley (Labour Cornerswell) said “I don’t think there has been an awful lot of change from the previous solution – which wasn’t accepted“. He did not think there had been enough change to warrant recommending the scheme .

A vote was called by Councillor Birch of all those in favour of the scheme . No councillors put their hands up . The overall result was For = NIL, Against =  5, Abstentions =  1.





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  1. Chris David says:

    What is going on in the VoG? This was turned down but the developers seem so sure Goldsworthy and team will canoodle to get this past they even offer a paltry £300k 106!! Something is very wrong with this system- even suspicious. Section 106 payments should not be used as a bribing point in any case. Lets hope the new VoG will prove it’s for the people and for the environment- not like the last lot. They really should get a grip on the planning department in the Barry Kremlin there and have a clear out.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      The anti Northcliffe development campaign is working PDN so please keep up the good work or there will soon be No-Cliffe and no Dock Offices.
      A Survey as far back as 2009 by local volunteer Geophysical Academics.
      Predicted severe danger if development takes place here and on Penarth Head where the Gun Emplacement aka Observation Post is slowly cracking and sinking in to the bowels of the earth.

  2. mikeyorke says:

    Has anyone ever checked to see if the local bat population roost in these trees and surrounding woodland?

    I wonder if the bat conservation trust would like to know to see if they can carry out a survey.

    When I lived in the Northcliffe flats, there were many many bats that fed from the midges and moths during the summer. I’m sure they wouldn’t be flying too far to roost

  3. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    ‘off site community housing’ suggests more housing and more pressure on infrastructure.

  4. Dizzydeb says:

    ‘Councillor Birch in the chair said that heer understanding was that the Town Council could be consulted and indicate its wishes on what it wanted Section 106 moneys to be spent on but the town council’s wish list was not statutorily binding on the Vale of Glamorgan as the planning authority.’

    What was the Penarth Heights 106 money spent on, is there a list??
    They tried to put an enormous piece of ‘artwork’ An ugly Twinkling weather station on the sight, costing over £100k but as the vale and town council didn’t follow their own consultation procedures and the hard work of local residents who of course weren’t consulted, it didn’t go ahead.

    They don’t have a clue what the people really want! I would have thought they should do something with the lovely old church St Pauls but instead they are deliberately letting it go to ruin so they can build even more flats adding to to already huge traffic problem.WE CANT GET OUT OF PENARTH IN THE MORNINGS!!!! And it’s getting worse..

    The seating they provided on the Crest sight is now used for groups of people on their way back from the pubs late at night to sit and talk, keeping the residents there awake. Crest have left area’s on the sight hidden away and ideal for youths to gather to use drugs, which they do nearly every night. Is anyone from the planning dept. looking at this on this next development?? It’s a waste of police time and money to keep patrolling theses areas.

  5. Anne Greagsby says:

    A new comprehensive ecology survey is required – the claim of no bat roosts is false
    There would be a huge loss of tree canopy, up to 40 mature trees – the Council reduced Tree Protection Orders to help the developers and would even sacrifice magnificent TPO trees.

    The developers claim CADW has no objections. In fact CADW ‘do not provide an assessment of the likely impact of the development on listed buildings or conservation areas, as these are matters for the local authority’ (D. Edwards CADW) The consultants who produced the 150-page “Heritage Impact Assessment” say they don’t care for the Welsh legislation so framed their case based on English Heritage guidance. They are caught out, as the Welsh documents came into legal force on 31 May 2017.
    And Cliff Stability: “The site is therefore considered to be at High Risk of ground movement associated with landslide” said technical consultants. The landslide hazard could affect adjacent sites/properties and the Custom House below. Nevertheless, the Council has dropped the requirement to establish ground stability. Welsh policy requires appraisal of the hazard to the local environment and identify any remedial measures required to deal with any instability before the planning decision.
    AS PDN points out, the Planning Committee’s firm rejection of the previous application said the development was “over scaled and incongruous … within its coastal headland context, and would fail to either preserve or enhance the character of the nearby Conservation Area or Listed Buildings”. The visual impact remains detrimental to the “setting” of the listed buildings (Custom House and Marine Buildings) and our iconic headland is worsened – modernist blocks replace the trees. The remit for the architect is for flats with a great view of the bay, so no chance of being obscured by the trees, the 3-storey luxury flats over-looking Penarth Haven and the Barrage area are still brash and over-scaled…
    The new administration of VoG council have already stated that there is too many proposed properties to be built in the Vale of Glamorgan. These luxury flats are unneeded and if permitted will be encouraging others to indulge in garden grabbing (buying a house and garden and building a block of flats) which inflates house local prices making it more difficult for people trying to get on the housing ladder.
    THERE is still time to email the VoG planners and OBJECT

    • Blue says:

      You say that “building a block of flats….inflates local house prices”. Even a rudimentary knowledge of economics shows that your assertion is incorrect. House prices are quite demand-elastic and generally will rise, ceteris paribus, if supply is curtailed. When supply is increased, prices should rise less slowly, or stabilise, or fall.

      Just in case you’re thinking of accusing me of trolling you, please be assured that I’m not. I see it as my mission to expose the lies and hypocrisy of Neil McEvoy and his followers and I will continue to do so every time lies, untruths, exaggerations or cant are posted.

      You should go back to trying to save Ely/Caerau. Those places need your “help” much more than Penarth does. In fact, Penarth is doing very well, although transport is a problem, but that is the case everywhere, and we do have three train stations, so those moaning about traffic do have an alternative. Penarth house prices are high – they always have been – because it is a great place to live. In fact I think that it has got better and better. Your multiple objections to building new homes would, if successful, result in property prices in Penarth rising ever higher.

      We all know that you love bats, trees and moss and no one is advocating the gratuitous destruction of these living entities. But some development must occur and surely it is preferable on brown field or quasi-brown field sites?

  6. snoggerdog says:

    i wouldnt like to the leaseholder(s) of the custom house restaurants,do they know about this, thats a lot of earth & undergrowth on a really steep slope right behind them,without wishing to alarm or upset anybody with all the movement going on it could cause a mini aberfan,someone in the know told the PDN of movement in the ground above,i think it should be left well alone.

  7. J24 says:

    I fail to see how anyone can call these designs incongruous when they are next to Northcliffe Flats! If anything, the new design is much more congruous than the last one. The whole area around there is a mix of different styles. Some people must to look at a block of 80s-built flats like Mariners Heights and see a beautiful Victorian Villa.

    • sewer says:

      I agree have you seen the ‘new house’ in Victoria Road. What on earth is going on?

  8. Max Wallis says:

    In law the “Section 106” payment is not a bribe, but for associated (in part off-site) measures to make the development acceptable in planning terms.
    The £300k is what the developers offered previously, to cover school, public open space, local transport, social housing etc. Cllr Luxton says the going rate is much more £1.1 million plus 1% (public art). The Penarth Heights developers had to provide for all these, but this luxury flats spec-developer expects to get away with much less. The Vale officers have apparently agreed only £300k for this second application, not even scaled up for inflation, but rejigged it from the whole £300k going to ‘community facilities’ to most going to social housing (£270k instead of £670k Luxton says, but the real requirement for 40% means 12 housing units – £140k each makes £1.7million).
    The officers’ £300k is based on a secret “viability report” – they normally accept the developers’ viability report without independent scrutiny. It doubtless includes notional construction costs and contingency for the difficult cliff-side site, which are essentially unknown but have been maximised. The officers do not propose a claw-back arrangement in case the secret assumptions turn out to give the developers huge profits.
    What the Council should do is say the development scheme is wholly “unviable”, being unable to provide the necessary S106 funds and failing include the 40% social housing needed for developments in Penarth (under the newly adopted LDP). Good rounds for rejection, on top of ecology, landscape, heritage, land instability and all the other reasons.

  9. Chris David says:

    Indeed Mr Wallis this whole thing stinks and you highlight the need to thoroughly investigate the professionalism and practises of the VoG planning officers. Secret reports! – nothing outside personal issues should be secret. The new council needs to get a firm grip. You may say it not a “bribe” Mr Wallis- I could…. possibly comment.

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