Penarth Town Council’s planning committee has postponed a decision it was to have made tomorrow night on the controversial proposal to demolish almost all of St Paul’s Church at Arcot St and replace it with a block of 14 social-housing apartments.
The agenda item has been removed from the council planning committee agenda for tomorrow night and will now be considered in a planning meeting on January 25th. No reason for the postponement has been given – but the meeting was due to follow an extrordinary meeting of Penarth Town Council also due to be held tomorrow evening .
The previous Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council has been accused of deliberately “bending the rules” to keep the controversial scheme out of the public eye for as long as possible.
St Paul’s Church was originally bought by the old Penarth District Council and was used as a headquarters of the Penarth Amateur Boxing Club and the Penarth Gym Club until it was closed for repairs in 2011.
When the Labour Party took control of the Vale of Glamorgan Council in 2012 it made it clear that it did not want the Boxing Club to return to the premises and cancelled a previously agreed £250,000 Conservative scheme to renovate St Pauls for the continued use of the Boxing and Gym Clubs.
In January 2013 the Labour controlled Vale Council held a public referendum in the St Augustine’s Ward in the mistaken belief that the public would support a Labour scheme to develop St Paul’s for unspecified “community use” and keep the Boxing and Gym Clubs out. Labour councillors were stunned when the public overwhelmingly voted against them and in favour of the Penarth Boxing Club and Gym Club remaining at St Paul’s .
After that, the protest body – the St Paul’s Action Group – claims further schemes for the redevelopment of St Paul’s were kept under wraps and away from public scrutiny.
In the May 2017 local elections (in which Labour lost control of the Vale of Glamorgan) little was said about approaches which had been made by the council to housing associations to develop residential social-housing accommodation on the site.
On Wednesday September 20th 2017 the full details of the proposals came to light for the first time when the Newydd Housing Association held a poorly-publicised and sparsely-attended “drop-in public consultation” during a weekday afternoon an afternoon at the Paget Rooms.
On October 25 2017 a packed public meeting organised by the St Paul’s Community Group” was held at the Ex-Servicemen’s Club on Windsor Road and moderated by Martin Gossage who is not a councillor but is a member of the Labour-controlled Penarth Town Council’s secret “Momentum” Group. In the largest vote of the evening, 26 members of the audience were against the demolition of St Paul’s and voted in favour of keeping the building in its entirety (out of an audience of around 55). Councillors attending the meeting did not vote.
On November 8th 2017 about 17 members of the public crowded into a meeting of Penarth Town Council’s “Democratic Services Committee” to voice their concerns about the plans. In that meeting the former Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council was accused “bending the rules” in order to evade public scrutiny of its then-secret scheme to re-develop the St Paul’s Church site for “social housing”.
In that meeting the Leader of Penarth Town Council, Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) declared an interest in the matter saying that he was “once and for many years” a member of the Newydd Housing Association [ whose scheme this is] and said he was still a “share member” in the Association.
Tomorrow night’s meeting would have been the first time that members of Penarth Town Council’s Planning Committee would have formally considered the St Paul’s social-housing scheme.
This discussion has now been postponed to January 25th and – like all meetings of Penarth Town Council – is open to the public except for items which the council wishes to keep secret.