Ashdene Manor seen from Bridgeman Road. The classic mansion has been boarded up for months

A Penarth property developer – Steve Simpson of EWM Property –  has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate over the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s prolonged  foot-dragging on his re-development proposals for the classic Victorian conservation-area  mansion Ashdene Manor.

 Ashdene Manor – in Bridgeman Road Penarth – is next-door to the site of the wrecked classic mansion “Normandy”  [ also now owned by EWM].

An impression of the new desIgn for the redevelopment of Ashdene Manor – as viewed from Bridgeman Road. (Courtesy of John Wotton Architects) ,

Mr Simpson is proposing to convert the  existing Ashdene building into 3 apartments and build  new extensions – or wings – either side of it which would  contain 6 new luxury apartments. The scheme is larger – but essentially similar – to a previous development scheme proposed by the previous owner of Ashdene Manor which had been approved by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Following pre-application discussions with Vale Council planners, Mr Simpson modified his original scheme.  Further negotiations and amendments followed and –  in March 2017 – the Vale planning officers recommended councillors should approve the scheme

Ashdene Manor seen from the North East

However, the then Labour-controlled Vale Council planning committee, decided to defer the application pending “a site meeting” which Mr Simpson says he was “not invited to attend”[ There now seems some doubt as to whether this site meeting ever took place].

Mr Simpson’s appeal – now lodged with the Planning Inspectorate –  says “politics in the form of local and the general elections appears to have intervened, which severely disrupted the progress of the Council’s business, and that of the appellant’s application.  No firm indication has been provided as to when the application would be taken again before Planning Committee.”

Ashdene Manor is next-door to “Normandy” in Bridgeman Road – a property also owned by EWM

The chartered town planning consultant Mr G Powys Jones – acting for Mr Simpson – says his client  understandably, is aggrieved with this inexcusable delay, and accordingly has decided to appeal on the grounds of non-determination.”

On behalf of Mr Simpson, Mr Jones notes that the Vale Council planning officers stated that  “a level of affordable housing would need to be provided on the site, together with other financial contributions.”  – and had gone on make a claim (now contested)  that Mr Simpson had “agreed to these matters” .

In fact – Mr Jones states – Mr Simpson had “understandably decided not to respond” until the Vale Council Planning Committee had actually made a determination to award planning consent to the Ashdene Lodge development.

Mr Simpson’s consultant says “the requirement for affordable housing, in particular, together with the other financial requirements” [ i.e. Section 106 contributions ]severely affects the viability of the scheme”.

Mr Simpson lodged his appeal against the Vale of Glamorgan COuncil with the Planning Inspectorate on August 18th.

On September 7th  the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee tabled the matter as an “urgent item” and agreed the grounds on which the Vale Council will defend itself against the appeal and determined that “the application would have been refused …in the absence of satisfactory evidence to demonstrate the development would not be viable if planning obligations [ i.e. Section 106 contributions and affordable housing] were sought”

The developers of Northcliff Lodge nmanaged to negotate a large reduction in Section 106 contributuions tio the Vale Council and were also relived of the obligation to include “affordable homes” on the site. That deal could now set a precedent for Ashdene Manor.

The Vale Council may now, however, find itself in a difficult position – given the massive scaling-back of Section 106 contributions it has just conceded to the developers of Northcliff Lodge and its agreement not to require a proportion of “affordable housing” on the Northcliff Lodge site .

The multiple Northcliff Lodge concessions came about in the wake the Vale Council’s loss of an earlier planning appeal in Barry – which now seems to have set a precedent for other developers and has effectively blown a hole in what was the Vale’s rule that 40% of the homes on any new development have to be  “affordable homes” [– i.e  within the reach of  less well-heeled residents.  ]      

Mr Powys Jones – acting for Steve Simpson – says the Vale Council “effectively kicked its determination of the application into touch by constant deferment.  Accordingly, the appellant will need to convince an Inspector of the deleterious effect of the Council’s requirements on scheme viability, which he intends to do.  “


Gifted architect, musician and sportsman Cllr John Price Jones created Ashdene Manor

PDN BACKGROUND NOTE: John Price Jones :  Ashdene Manor was designed and built as his home by the talented architect  John Price Jones , who died at Ashdene the age of 42 on January 23rd 1893 . He was recognised as having designed “some of the most important and palatial buildings in Cardiff” and also carried out several developments in Penarth in association with local developer Solomon Andrews .

Amongst his work still be seen in Cardiff is Howell’s department store in St Mary St Cardiff, the two shopping arcades – the High-street Arcade and  Wyndham Arcade and the renovated Royal Hotel and Queen’s Hotel, Cardiff. His obituary noted he was a “staunch Liberal”, a noted cricketer (treasurer of Cardiff Cricket Club) and  “treasurer of the County Football Club”. He also supported Penarth Cricket and Penarth Football Club and was reckoned to be “one of the best amateur swimmers in South Wales” .

Mr Jones was married and had three sons. His obituary said “Penarth has indeed lost a worthy son, a gentle-man in the truest sense of the word….Musically he was gifted beyond most others, at one time ranking among the notable tenor singers of South Wales he was also a fine pianist, and officiated as organist in the Baptist Chapel at Penarth, of which congregation he was a member.

Mr. Jones was also at one time a director of the South Wales Star newspaper and a large shareholder in the company . He was buried at the “New Cemetery in Cardiff”  .

The funeral of Mr John Price Jones was one of the largest ever seen in Penarth – before or since. When it reached Cardiff the funeral cortege consisted of more than 100 carriages and hundreds of mourners of every social class walked in a long procession  through the streets of Cardiff or stood with hats off and heads bowed as the horse-drawn hearse passed.

An unnamed South Wales Daily News correspondent – in what is a tour-de-force of Victorian funeral reporting – wrote the following (abridged) account:- 

“No more striking testimony to the popularity of any man could be furnished than was indicated in a glance around at the hundreds who paid their tribute to the memory of the deceased at his graveside. Every section of the community, every variety of public institution of which the town can boast, was represented. Men of all shades of political opinion, of every grade of social condition, the student and the athlete, the merchant and the lawyer, the architect and the author, the artist and the artisan, all were here—and all the friends of J. P. Jones when in life.

To secure the appreciation and unmistakable esteem of so wide and varied a circle of friends—friends old and friends young, of the poorest and of the wealthiest—is permitted to few men but this was the rare privilege which Mr J. P. Jones had enjoyed during the all too few years of his busy manhood.

The early morn was damp and dull and as the mid-day hour approached for the coffin’s removal from Ashdene, the house of mourning at Penarth, the heavens were hung with black, and rain steadily descended. Nor did it cease. Only relatives and the nearest friends came to Ashdene, the desire being that until the cortege reached Cardiff the funeral should partake of a strictly private character. This out of respect for the grief- stricken widow in her hour of sore trial.

The deceased gentleman’s noble St Bernard stood on the verandah, looking out on to the Bristol Channel, and stolidly regarded the few arrivals. It was only when the time drew near for the bearing away of his dead master that the faithful animal was conducted, reluctant, to another part of the building, out of sight.

Loving hands placed many of the numerous beautiful wreaths which had been received upon the green-banked edges outlining the gravelled approach to the house, and the sweet-scented floral memorials presented quite a mournful picturesqueness. A few more minutes, and then, amid the pattering rain, the coffin was borne forth to the hearse. A slight wind swayed the leafless trees, which bowed their branches as in mute grief. Piled high above the coffin, piled up on every side of the open carriage for the dead, so that the coffin could scarcely be seen, were the melancholy, if beautiful, chaplets while other wreaths were depended from the fluted pillarettes of the hearse.

It was a plain oak coffin, having brass mountings and the plate bore the inscription JOHN Price Jones Born 6th December, 1250, Died 23rd January, 1893.

The coffin was carried from the house’by six of the oldest employees of Messrs Jones Brothers- men who had known the deceased since he was a mere youth. Following the hearse came carriages containing the young sons of the deceased—Ivor, Percy  and Howard Jones.

It was nearly one o’clock, owing to unavoidable circumstances, before a start was made for Cardiff, in the New Cemetery of which town the interment was to take place.

At Tresillian-terrace, Penarth Road, the procession was joined by the Mayor of Cardiff (Councillor W. E. Vaughan), several other members of the Council, the Town C!erk (Mr J. L. Wheatley), Mr Alfred Thomas, M.P., and representatives of various political bodies and other Associations, including the Senior and Junior Liberal Associations, the Workmen’s Liberal Club and Institute, the Architects’ Society, the Cardiff Cricket and Football Clubs, the Windsor” Lodge of Free- masons, and several of the operative trades societies in the town.

The funeral cortege was marshalled in the Penarth Road by a posse of police constables, under the direction of Superintendent Tamblyn. A long line of carriages led off the procession, and then came members of the Liberal Thousand and other friends on foot.

There were over one hundred carnages in the procession, which as it progressed slowly along Penarth-road was respectfully watched by numerous people stationed on the side-walks, who, notwithstanding the continued rain, had waited patiently for it. When the Great Western approach was reached at 10 minutes to two o’clock hundreds of sympathising spectators were there while throughout the whole of St. Mary- street business was completely suspended. The footpaths were crowded, the blinds of all the places of business and public institutions were drawn, and flags floated half-mast on the South Wales Daily News offices, the political clubs, the Western Mail offices, the Royal Hotel, and the Queen’s Hotel—the palatial extensions of which will be a permanent monument to the artistic taste and professional skill of the deceased — from the Town-hall, Howell’s drapery establishment, and other buildings.

The procession turned into Duke Street, where similar indications of respect to the memory of Mr J. P. Jones were in evidence, and thence the North-road was entered. Rain, rain, more rain still the route was well-lined. Then, only knots of people were met with, who uncovered their heads as the hearse passed. The residents of Cathays Terrace  had done what people in the centre of the town had felt it incumbent upon them to do; they, too had darkened their dwellings by temporarily drawing the blinds, in earnest of their sorrow.

It was nearly half-past two o’clock when the head of the cortege arrived at the Cemetery. The chief mourners and as many friends as could be accommodated in the building entered the chapel, whither the coffin, relieved of most of its floral burden, was borne.

A large number of persons were, perforce, left outside the chapel, and while the first part of the Service for the Dead was being rendered they examined the inscribed cards attached to the wreaths, which found a temporary resting-place on the narrow grass beds surrounding the cemetery chapels.

Inside the chapel the Rev W. E. Winks engaged in prayer, and read a part of the service. The Rev I. O. Stalberg (of Penarth Baptirst Church) followed with a short prayer, after which a move was made for the graveside, situate at the western side of the cemetery.

A very large body of mourners assembled around the grave, which was lined with bricks. A pathetic sight was the presence of two of the young sons of the deceased, wearing black sailor hats and reefers. One of the poor little fellows cried bitterly for a time, but as the service proceeded became calmer. Both looked up with tearful eye to Mr Winks as he read some inspiring scriptural verses with appropriate emphasis.

 Many of those present were visibly affected, and the whole scene was very touching, and one that will not be soon forgotten. It was long ere relatives and friends of the deceased could tear themselves from the graveside, at which they stood bare-headed in the falling rain. “

Ashdene Manor later became the home of David Hannah JP – a former colliery apprentice, born in 1855, who rose to become a board director of a number of South Wales colliery companies. He was chairman of the Welsh Navigation Steam Coal Company and President of the South Wales Institute of Engineers.

It was also the home at one time of the Merthyr-born entrepreneur  Henry Radcliffe (died 1921) who was a partner in the well known Cardiff shipping company Evan Thomas Radcliffe.

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  1. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    I dreamt that the developers of Northcliff donated their profits to the renovation of the building next to the Custom House.

  2. The Tax payer says:

    Speaking of the building next door to the old Custom House. I noticed the other day the land in front of it seems to have been ALL fenced off with parking conditions imposed but who really does own this land ??? Think you may find some of it is PUBLIC land so maybe the VOG need to look into this before it gets claimed by whoever owns the building 👍

  3. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    VOG need to realise they are temporary custodians.

  4. Max Wallis says:

    The Councillors led by Clive Williams were all set to reject the Ashdene application against officer advice, but one of them moved deferral to try for further modifications. It appears the officers did nothing for near 6 months – don’t they accept Councillors’ over-ruling them with good grace? The Vale council makes out that it tries hard to screw S-106 benefits from developers, backed up by an LDP that specifies 40% ‘affordable’ housing in any project over 5 homes in Penarth. This covers the Ashdene development. You’re right that their letting off the Northcliffe developers for £260k (instead of 12 affordable homes) knocks a huge hole in this. The Barry appeal case was given as an excuse by the officers, but relates only to on-site parking for a site very close to shops etc. There’s extreme need for affordable in Penarth – the excuses offered by officers (that two ‘social’ homes would be difficult to manage and owners of the other 10 couldn’t afford escalating management fees) were not only quite desperate but also created a loophole the size of a barn door for all developers of 30-unit sites.

    • HHH says:

      Why did the Councillors go against officer advice? I am sure that any Planning officer is more highly qualified than any of the unemployables on the Committee…..

  5. HHH says:

    I was told that the VoG Committee went against the Officer’s recommendation because they didn’t want any social housing on Marine Parade/ Bridgeman Road. Too close to their own back yard probably.

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