The housing association Newydd has put on display for the first time its initial proposals for the redevelopment of St Paul’s Church at Arcot St Penarth.
The plan is to demolish the rear 2/3rds of the building and, in its place, build 15 new apartments on 3 storeys – all of which will be for rental only : the front section will be retained as a ground and first floor “community space”.
The two elements of the design – the residential accommodation and the community space – are each be the subject of separate consultation exercises – both of which have been embarked upon today.
There will be a ‘pre-application’ for the development made to the Vale of Glamorgan Council (which, apart from being the local authority is also the owner of the premises) . This will be followed full application taking on board any refinements which come up in the earlier stages of the process. It’s anticipated the pre-application will be submitted to the council’s planning committee in October .
Newydd is planning residential accommodation consisting of 12 one-bedroom flats and 2 two-bedroom apartments – a split which clearly puts the letting emphasis on the provision of homes for single people.
Those applying of become tenants in due course will be subject to a Newydd selection process which will require prospective renters to demonstrate that they have strong local or family links with Penarth, or have had a long association with the town.
The familiar fascia of St Paul’s Church will be retained and renovated and the area immediately behind it will be developed as a ground and first floor “community space” – the nature of which still has to be decided and on which the input of local people is being sought. [ This is the subject of the second public consultation which closes on October 14th 2017]
It’s anticipated that, subject to planning permission, construction would be completed within less than 2 years.
Those perusing the plans on show in the Paget Rooms for the first time today noticed that:-
- There is only a very small single amenity space [ i.e. an open-air area] – called “Amenity Gardens” for all 15 apartments. This is a small green area at the rear of the three storey flats complex which – it is proposed – will have a few trees and benches but no children’s playing area. Newydd say that they would expect to offer families with children more suitable accommodation in their other developments. [ In the past the Vale of Glamorgan Council has refused permission for the residential development of premises with insufficient or no amenity space. An “artist’s studio” in Plassey St – intended to be occupied by the owner living alone – had to be partly knocked-down to comply with planning legislation to create an “amenity space” which the owner did not want or need].
- There appear to be only 4 parking spaces at the rear of the building and it’s not yet clear whether these would be allocated to tenants or to those attending public functions in the two ” community spaces” . Tenants may have no option but to park in surrounding streets or use public transport.
The housing association Newydd currently provides 3,000 homes to rent to families and individuals in South and Mid Wales. It proposes to acquire St Paul’s Church in Arcot Street on a 999 year lease from the Vale of Glamorgan Council and anticipates it could take 50 years for it to recover its original investment .
Anyone (anywhere in the world) who wishes to respond (as many times as they wish) to the developer’s new public opinion survey, can do so on-line on http://tinyurl.com/y93fksv5. [ A public opinion survey was carried out in St Augustine’sWard by the then Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council in December 2012 – the results of which were delayed for 5 months . Eventually it transpired that Penarth residents had voted overwhelmingly against the Labour Party’s scheme and wanted Penarth Boxing Club to resume its use of the building]
The history of the St Paul’s building is as follows:-
- 1863 : The building was originally erected in Arcot St as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel
- 1882: The chapel was enlarged as congregations swelled.
- 1905 : The chapel caught fire and was gutted – leaving just the exterior walls standing. The Methodists decided not to re-build it and instead built the Albert Road Methodist Church as a replacement.
- 1906: The chapel was re-built as a church by the Anglicans and named “St Paul’s” . In the re-build, several feet in height were chopped off the elaborate 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.
- 1940: It received bomb damage courtesy of the Luftwaffe
- 1967: It was bought by Penarth Urban District Council for £2,500 – and then handed on to the South Glamorgan County Council.
- 1996 St Paul’s came into the possession of the Vale of Glamorgan County Council and it was leased to Penarth Boxing Club and later Penarth Gym Club.
- 2011 The building was closed for Health and Safety reasons and the Penarth Boxing Club had to leave after 37 years at St Paul’s . The Boxing and Gym Clubs were told they would be able to move back-in once repairs had been completed .
- 2012 The then-Conservative administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council allocated £250,000 in the council’s “Capital Programme” to make the building suitable again for use by Penarth Gymnastics Club and Penarth Boxing Club. The money was to be recouped from the Section 106 funding from Crest Nicholson in respect of the Penarth Heights Development. The Labour Party condemned the move as a “pre-election stunt” .
- May 2012 The Labour administration took over in the Vale of Glamorgan – and put a hold on the planned renovation of St Paul’s. No maintenance of the building was carried out – it continued to deteriorate. The Capital Programme money was never spent, the Crest Nicholson Section 106 funding was never called-in. Nothing was done . The building was under the control of the Vale Council’s so-called “Visible and Leisure Services Committee” which was represented on the Vale ‘cabinet’ by Cllr Gwyn John (Llantwit First Independents) . He represented the tiny party that kept Labour in power in the Vale Council .
- December 11 2012: The Vale Council announced there would be a six-week “public consultation” on the future of St Paul’s is to begin in January 2013. Controversially the public consultation was limited only to 3,400 homes St Augustines Ward although the Boxing Club and the Gym Club had members in all wards of Penarth – and St Paul’s was seen as an asset for the entire town.
- January 2013 The Vale of Glamorgan Council duly held a public consultation in the form of a postal referendum. Local councillors Lis Burnett and Gwyn Roberts (both Labour St Augustines) urged the use of the hall as a “mixed use community facility” rather than just as a base for the Penarth Boxing Club and Gym Club – but the council appeared prefer to leave the final decision to the residents of St Augustine’s Ward in the postal referendum.
- January 2013 The deadline for the return of referendum ballot papers from local voters was extended until March 1st because of bad weather .
- March 1st 2013: The extended deadline for the consultation closed. The Vale Council says it’s “delighted” with the level of public response – but there was’s no sign of the results being announced.
- April 16th 2013: The Vale Council announces that the publication of the results of the referendum has been postponed for further month to enable all the key officers and councillors involved to “review the data”.
- May 21st 2013: At long last, the result of the referendum was announced. It was a set-back for the two St Augustine’s Vale Labour councillors. Out of a total of 669 responses 62% of households in St Augustines wanted to see St Paul’s become a permanent home for the Boxing and Gym Clubs . Only 38%, wanted the “mixed use community facility” that Cllrs Burnett and Roberts were proposing .
September 20 2013: Councillors Lis Burnett and Gwyn Roberts both came in for withering criticism from prominent local businessman and Penarth Boxing Club supporter Nick Chandler. He said in a letter on the Penarth Times website “If Councillors Burnett and Roberts had not interfered with the previously agreed Cabinet proposal, the building could be weather-protected by now and work to rehouse both clubs would be well advanced.”..“It appears the councillors and officers have all been sitting on their hands despite an overwhelming vote of confidence being given by the residents for the building to be handed back to both clubs. Crest Nicholson, I gather, also support the venture. This whole debacle is a disgrace and appears to be more about the posturing of elected members and has had very little to do with the people of Penarth and their wishes. “
March 24th 2014 Cllr Gwyn John told a public meeting in the Paget Rooms in Penarth that St Paul’s Church is what he called a “huge headache” that had been “dumped” on the incoming Labour administration by the outgoing Conservative administration in 2012. He said the building was in such a poor state he recommends demolishing it and “starting again”.
- October 6th 2014: The Vale of Glamorgan Council announced is has appointed the estate-agents Savills to market the lease of St Paul’s Church.
- January 2015 a group, called “St Paul’s Shared Fitness Space CIC” [“CIC” stands for “Community Interest Company“], put forward ambitious proposals for turning St Paul’s into “mixed-use community facility“. However the group – a “social enterprise company” failed to come up with an acceptable business plan. The Vale Council’s internal Project Group later formally rejected the scheme .
- December 2015 : The Vale Council’s Project Board was said to be “considering options” for the property. A total of £233,000 already allocated to the project – but yet to be spent – was rolled forward into the Vale’s 2016/17 “Capital Programme”.
- March 2017 an on-petition was launched by Plaid Cymru candidate Aled Thomas to protest against the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council’s decision to dispose of St Paul’s Church .
- April 2017 : The outgoing Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan announced it had selected the Newydd Housing Association as its “preferred hidder” to come up with detailed plans to re-develop the St Paul’s site as a mix of residential social housing and community facilities.
- May 2017: The Labour Party lost control of the Vale of Glamorgan Council. The schemes for St Paul’s Church were re-appraised by the new Conservative-controlled Vale Council .
- September 2017 Newydd released its plans for a mixed residential and community use for St Pauls as detailed above.
The saga continues…..