PENARTH PLANNING CHAIR IS “SURPRISED AND FRUSTRATED” OVER NORTHCLIFF LODGE APPROVAL

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines) is a professional architect and chairman of the Penarth Town Council planning committee

The chairman of Penarth Town Council’s planning committee –  Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines) –  has openly queried the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee’s decision to approve the controversial Northcliff Lodge development

Penarth Town Council’s planning committee had recommended rejection of two successive Northcliff Lodge planning applications – but last week the Vale Council approved a revised version of the scheme.

The 3 new apartment blocks on the Northcliff Lodge will contain a total of 30 new luxury apartments – but there’s no on site provision for “affordable homes” – and only a very low Section 106 contribution is to be made to the Vale Council by the developers e

In January, when the Vale of Glamorgan Council was Labour controlled,  most of the Labour members were also said to be in favour of the scheme – despite the very low Section 106 offer and despite the fact that no “affordable housing” was to be provided on the site . However outspoken Vale councillor Gwyn Roberts swung opinion against the scheme and the eventual decision was unanimously against.

When the REVISED Northcliff Lodge application came before the now Conservative controlled administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council, the staff planning officers again  (as they had in January)  recommended approval of the scheme and again explained to councillors that because of legal precedents on a controversial development in Barry it would not be possible to reject the scheme on grounds low Section 106 contribution or there being no on-site  “affordable housing” element. They also declared such a scheme would – under planning law – be adjudged viable even it included a 20% profit margin.  The revised scheme was therefore approved by the Vale Planning Committee

Architect Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines)

Last night however (September 13th 2017 )  at the end of the Penarth Town Council’s planning committee’s business, its chairman – Cllr Humphrey – raised again the issue of Northcliff Lodge – a matter which had not been on the planning agenda.

Cllr Humphrey said  “ The final comment I want to make:  I have made a statement to the Vale of Glamorgan Council about  the Northcliff [ i.e. Northcliff Lodge]  application to the effect that [Penarth]  Council  is surprised and frustrated by the Vale’s decision to approve the Northcliff application with a massively-reduced Section 106 contribution .”

[PDN Note: The Northcliff Lodge developers had claimed that the scheme would not be viable if they had to pay the full amount of Section 106 moneys to the Vale Council . This money is supposed to mitigate the effects of the development, improve local facilities, improve local transport and provide more cash for local schools. The developers offered only a meagre £300,000 in a Section 106 contribution – way below what such a multi-million pound development would normally be expected to pay.Developers are also expected to allocate 40%  of the homes as “affordable homes” for less well-heeled local residents  – but, in negotiations with Vale Council planning officers,  the Northcliff Lodge developers were relieved of that obligation too. Although SOME money will be allocated for “affordable homes“, at their request the developers are not being obliged  to include any such homes on the Northcliff Lodge site itself .]

Set to be demolished to make way for the 30 new apartments is North Cliff Lodge – a Swiss-style mini-mansion in its own right valued at £1,250,000 which once served as  the “lodge” of the main mansion “Northcliff” – earlier known as “Cliff Villa”. That big mansion was demolished in 1969 to make way for the separate development of the “Northcliffe” flats – built in the 1970s

In last night’s Penarth Town Council planning committee meeting Cllr Humphrey – who is an architect by profession – claimed that “Supplementary guidance on affordable homes includes  a procedure requiring developers to redesign their scheme if  viability is an issue”.

In what appeared to be a direct challenge to the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s staff planners, Cllr Humphrey said he had not been able to find any evidence that this procedure had been followed and I wonder how is the need for affordable housing in Penarth to be met  if developers are so easily allowed to avoid  these payments”.

Cllr Humphrey said  he had just come back from France and  had received emails and had conversations in the street with people who were normally a-political but  who had been expressing their “disgust at the £300,000″ [the low offer accepted by the Vale Council officers as the Section 106 contribution]  “and what’s been described as the £1,000,000 subsidy.” [PDN Note: It was argued in the Vale Planning Committee that Vale Council-Tax Payers  would – in effect – be subsidising the Northcliff Lodge development to the tune of £1,000,000 ].

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)  said presumably the developers had – as he put it – “got away with what they could get away with”.

Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) Leader of Penarth Town Council

At this point the Leader of Penarth Town Council Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines)    said he should have declared an interest in the topic and left the planning committee meeting.

[PDN Note: Cllr Cuddy declared in February 2016 that he lives almost immediately opposite the Northcliff Lodge site in Paget Place. In addition he has a planning application of his own currently under consideration – a new moderist two storey house in the grounds of his home, which has been designed by Chris Loyn,  the architect of the new Northcliff Lodge development.]

Cllr Nigel Humphrey (in the chair) said he did not imagine there was any real possibility of changing the Northcliff Lodge planning consent. However, he said, “in future , both in Penarth and in the Vale  we would like to say that we don’t think that has been a satisfactory response”.  

Cllr Humphrey said “Penarth has been identified as one of those places with the greatest housing need – both private and affordable housing.”  It was disappointing that the [ Section 106] powers which had been carefully written – had “not been followed” .

The Deputy Town Clerk said that he had been in touch with the umbrella body for local councils “One Voice Wales” on this matter. If Penarth Council wished to complain about the Northcliff Lodge decision, he advised it  would have to follow the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s complaints procedure and pursue the matter through the Local Government Ombudsman.

The matter will be considered again in next week’s planning committee

[PDN Note: The Vale Planning Officers rationale for accepting the low Section 106 offer in respect of the Northcliff Lodge development is given in the report of the Vale Planning Committee decision on   http://tinyurl.com/y7y8b7jq ]

 

 

 

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7 Responses to PENARTH PLANNING CHAIR IS “SURPRISED AND FRUSTRATED” OVER NORTHCLIFF LODGE APPROVAL

  1. David Moorcraft says:

    No affordable housing, a derisory amount of money offered under Section 106, possible limited parking provision, the destruction ( I believe) of a long-established stand of trees; the total spoiling of the view of this part of Penarth Headland especially from the Barrage : how is this justified ?
    I sense weakness and inability on the part of our representatives and officers to stand up to the developers, who must be laughing already.
    Shades of the late Peter Boland !

  2. Windsor in my view says:

    The whole thing stinks. If it wont make the developers money, why is it the public that will ultimately pay the price. Schools bursting at the seems. Mature trees chopped down. Parking hell for all residents near-by.

    Who’s got the back-handed then?

    • Lucie says:

      All of them!Brown envolpes all round,always has been same in Penarth,it’s shocking they can get away with building these shocking flats ….

  3. Kevin Mahoney says:

    I’m a touch non plussed about the ‘project not being financially viable if normal 106 contribution scales are applied to the development’

    Thats like saying a new restaurant plan can’t go ahead if all the hygiene equipment and extractor fan requirements for such an establishment have to be met because it would make the project financially unaffordable. Theres not a hope that such requirements would be allowed to be dropped just to help someone make money.

    Surely just like any other business project if the Northcliffe scheme is not financially viable if it has to conform with normal 106 payment requirements it should be up to the developers to decide whether they wish to subsidise it and proceed or not to.

  4. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    I dreamt that the scheme went ahead for what it cost and in the spirit of philanthropy the developers donated the profit to the restoration of the building next to the custom house.

  5. Peter Brown says:

    If you don’ t succeed try again until the weak give in.I am planning too.I am planning to leave Penarth and look forward to its continued deterioration and seeing the children of the fat cats surrounded by ugly boxes and wildlife quiting the area.Sad but predictable.Shame on all who supported this sick joke of a development.

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