EMBARRASSMENT FOR PENARTH COUNCIL AS SECRET BID FOR ‘THE KYMIN’ IS CRUSHED

The Kymin is a house and a large area of woods and open lawns which is owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and rented to Penarth Town Council . It is hired out for functions and meetings to several local groups and is the venue for the annual Gwyrddio Penarth Greening Food Festival

The Labour-run Penarth Town Council has had a secret attempt to acquire The Kymin from its owners – the Vale of Glamorgan Council –  not only rejected by the Vale – but roundly-criticised in the process.

For months Penarth councillors have been holding secret discussions (from which the press and public have been deliberately excluded) so that it could hatch a plan to acquire The Kymin from the Vale under a so-called “Community Asset Transfer”.

The Vale Council says ” “The Kymin is a very strategic asset in Penarth, and indeed the wider Vale of Glamorgan, occupying a highly prominent location adjacent to the Esplanade and the Pier.

Back in March 2017 Penarth Town Council secretly submitted an “Expression of Interest” application to acquire The Kymin from the Vale and was then asked by the “Community Asset Transfer Working Group and Insight Board” to go to Stage Two of the process.

[PDN Note: A “Community Asset Transfer” is the  transfer of land or buildings from a public body (usually a local authority like the Vale of Glamorgan ) to either a local council (like Penarth Town Council) or a community-based organisation at less than market value to “achieve a local social, economic or environmental benefit”.]

The May 2017 local elections saw Labour returned to run Penarth for another 5 years – but there had been no mention in the campaign of any plan to acquire The Kymin – it had all been kept secret

In May 2017 there were local council elections in Penarth – but in no election leaflets did any council candidate mention any proposal for Penarth Town Council to acquire The Kymin.

In November 2017 the re-elected Labour-controlled Penarth Town Council submitted its “Stage Two” application for the Kymin – again under conditions of strict secrecy and despite having carried out zero public consultation, not having published any costings, not told local residents what the impact would be on the local town precept and not having any electoral mandate for such a scheme.

The Kymin on Beach Road, Penarth is the regular meeting place for local groups s

However Penarth Council’s ‘Stage Two’ application turned out to be so superficial, so light on detail and so totally devoid of any element of public consultation,  it’s now been not only summarily rejected – but heavily criticised too.

The Community Asset Transfer Working Group came down like ton of bricks on the Penarth Council’s Stage Two bid for the Kymin. It found that:-

  •  ” There appeared to have been no full consultation undertaken in order to inform the development of the business plan (a requirement of the process).
  • “There was no further information on how the public / organisations had been consulted since the Stage 1 application had been received and considered.”
  • “The financial element of the proposal was identified as having insufficient detail to demonstrate the sustainable operation of the asset.”
  • “The [Penarth Council]  application was light in overall detail, including the level of research being undertaken to develop the business plan.”

In what is a major embarrassment for Penarth Town Council, the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s ruling cabinet has agreed with the findings of the Community Asset Transfer Working Group and has rejected the application.

It’s also been pointed out that “The Kymin is a very strategic asset in Penarth, and indeed the wider Vale of Glamorgan, occupying a highly prominent location adjacent to the Esplanade and the Pier. At a time of financial constraint, work is underway to consider the future use of all [Vale] Council assets. In this regard, it was considered that the application was premature given the need to conduct that review and consider the importance and value of this particular asset in the context of Penarth and the Esplanade”

BACKGROUND ON THE KYMIN

1250 : The present “Kymin” was originally a farmstead called “Worbeys Fote”

1680: There is a “Kimmin Farm” on the site (now known as “The Kymin”). The strange name is a Norse or Celtic reference to the mouth of a stream. 

1790: A new farmhouse – called “The Kymin” is now is established . The property comprises a farmhouse grassland and woodland and a freshwater stream.

1841: The Kymin is the home of a  retired Irish army captain (38th Regiment) John Minchin and his wife Charlotte. He dies in  1853 .

1875 : The house was rebuilt and becomes the home of James Sidney Batchelor J. P. a timber merchant/commission agent from Newport, Monmouthshire who is one of the 6 Batchelor brothers – three of whom live in Penarth. The freehold belongs to the Earl of Plymouth.

The Kymin and Penarth Head in 1927

1947: Penarth Urban District Council Council acquires the Kymin estate under a  compulsory purchase order for £4,500 with a view to opening it as a “public pleasure ground”. The purchase is funded from the rates charged to the local residents of Penarth . The house itself is let to private tenants.

1952 Penarth UDC  leases the ground floor of Kymin House to an aviation firm – Simmonds Aerocessories Ltd. Later the firm takes of the entire house and the private tenants leave the building.

1952 Penarth Presbyterian Church holds a “summer fayre”  on the lawn of the Kymin – the first of many events to be held in the grounds by local organisations . Penarth UDC’s Parks Department uses part of the grounds for propagating seeds .

1959 Penarth UDC considers building a brand new public swimming pool at the Kymin to replace the one on the Esplanade/Bridgeman Road – but decides against it “for the time being ”    

1960 : A number of developers make offers for the land to build flats on the site – along with a lido, an hotel and a “boating lake“. All are refused

1964: The Kymin House is allocated as living accommodation to the Clerk of the Penarth UDC – who is already occupying part of the premises. The deal is that the Clerk must pay out of his own pocket for any conversion work carried out.

1968: ( or around this date) Penarth UDC obtains planning permission to “develop a recreation centre at the Kymin, including new swimming baths“.

1969: Penarth UDC  has negotiations with the Earl of Plymouth to obtain release from a restrictive covenant on the site. However the “recreation centre” is never developed.

1974: Penarth UDC is wound up under local government re-organisation. The deeds of the Kymin are handed over to the Glamorgan County Council and later passed to its successor authority the South Glamorgan County Council – even though the Penarth Council bought the Kymin outright with a rates precept taxed from the people of Penarth .

1982: Penarth  Town Council enters a “rolling lease”  with South Glamorgan County Council so that it can  carry on using what is morally Penarth Council’s own property. This lease obliges Penarth Town Council to carry out minor maintenance but leaves the larger county council responsible for major works.

1996: South Glamorgan County Council goes out of existence . The freehold of the Kymin  is passed to the Vale of Glamorgan Council – which refuses  to transfer the deeds of the Kymin back to Penarth – even though the people of Penarth paid £4,500 for the house and grounds in 1947 .

2014: The then Mayor of  Penarth, Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell), proposes setting up a floodlit “outdoor gymnasium and an indoor gym” at the Kymin – an idea he said he had been “banging on about” since the election of the Labour administration in Penarth in 2012. The idea is not progressed.

A BBC film crew along with 70 year old vintage vehicles – sets up to film Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall at the Kymin, Penarth starring Eva Longoria .

2017 : The house and grounds are estimated to be worth £3,000,000. Penarth Town Council holds a “rolling 12 month lease” on the property at a peppercorn rent but says it wants to negotiate a longer term lease of around 99 years which would be enough to justify taking out a Public Works Loan towards the cost of  maintaining and developing the building –  including upgrading the toilets and kitchens. Taking out such a loan would mean the Penarth Town Council increasing – yet again – the precept it charges to local residents as part of their Council Tax bills.

“The West House Foundation Trust” is to be the name of Penarth Town Council’s new – and secret – ‘charity” which was intended to become the landlord of “The Kymin”. Now that ambition appears to have been scuppered.

January 2018:  Penarth Town Council clandestinely considers setting up a “charitable arm” to be called “The West House Foundation”. Such a charity has yet to be approved by  the Charity Commission. It’s understood the intention was that this charity would have actually acquired “The Kymin” and held the deeds of the property – but only if  a Community Asset Transfer been approved – which it hasn’t .

As of today (April 9th 2018) there exists no charity called the West House Foundation.

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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21 Responses to EMBARRASSMENT FOR PENARTH COUNCIL AS SECRET BID FOR ‘THE KYMIN’ IS CRUSHED

  1. John Powell says:

    As usual, sadly, party politics infect and infest everything that anyone in the town tries to do – e.g. Tory Vale rejects and criticises Lab PTC bid to get the asset back.

    Funny how those who revere the Victorians don’t think like Victorians!

    And Labour group, for goodness sake, drop the cloak and dagger stuff and actually start talking to the people who elected you.

    Honestly – and they say a society gets the governments it deserves !!!

  2. Philip Rapier says:

    Anti Merger tactics. The protectionist self interest nonsense by the Vale of Glamorgan Council knows no bounds. Any dilution of assets such as restoring the Kymin to rightful owners the People of Penarth will of course weaken the Vale claim to be independent of Cardiff Council.
    Roll on the Vale Cardiff merger and let us be rid of the Barry -Cowbridge collusion in expensive incompetence and empire building.

    • Peter Church says:

      You mean, lets have a hard left socialist money squandering Council from Newport to Swansea.

  3. In the Dark says:

    Very interesting and informative report.
    Where would we be without PDN?
    Thank you.

  4. Martinj says:

    The MOH (medical officer for health) also lived there
    back in the mid sixties, under what terms/conditions
    I have no idea.

  5. snoggerdog says:

    2020:vale council announces name to be changed to vales folly,with plans to build 650 luxury apartments on the site (also known as flats) & old building to be bulldozed in a responsible way.

  6. Stack up the Boxes says:

    Does The Kymin have any legal protection against being ‘developed’?
    In the current climate, no matter who ‘owns’ it, I can’t see it lasting long – all that green to rip up, those trees to fell, that lovely old building with tiled floors to raze to the ground.
    I’m beginning to wonder if someone’s slipping the graffiti artists a few bob to ensure the unique folly on the hill becomes an ‘eyesore’ and ‘impossible to maintain’.
    I imagine certain people can’t walk past the place without fantasising about the money they could make if it gets the go-ahead for ‘development’.

  7. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    ‘charitable arm’ where have we heard that before, oh yeah ‘the pier pavilion!’

  8. Peter Church says:

    If the Labour group get hold of it the whole lot will be demolished and we’ll have social housing built on it.
    LABOUR = GERRYMANDERS

  9. Chris David says:

    So the feckless PTC spot the VoG gave away all that money to PACL under amateur hour terms and think- hey they’re equally- or even more feckless than us. Then they think- heh heh we’ll shove in a secret but really unprofessional plan to get OUR Kymin back, but it’ll be good enough to fool these twerps. Yup Goldsworthy may already be planning a few hundred flats.

  10. Quentin Phillips says:

    I’ve always been given to understand
    from Council officers that the Kymin was
    bequeathed “ in perpetuity” to the people
    of Penarth for community use.
    Over the years so many local organisations
    have used the premises throughout the year
    and especially during the summer months
    for outdoor children’s activities and birthday celebrations.
    It’s a very safe environment and the possibility of loss to the
    community is unthinkable.

  11. They must think we're TWP says:

    It’s also been pointed out that “The Kymin is a very strategic asset in Penarth, and indeed the wider Vale of Glamorgan, occupying a highly prominent location adjacent to the Esplanade and the Pier. AT A TIME OF FINANCIAL CONSTRAINT, WORK IS UNDERWAY TO CONSIDER THE FUTURE USE OF ALL [VALE] COUNCIL ASSETS. In this regard, it was considered that the application was premature given the need to conduct that review and consider the importance and value of this particular asset in the context of Penarth and the Esplanade”

    I think these words should strike fear in the minds of anyone hoping to retain The Kymin as one of the last few remaining spaces for wildlife in Penarth.
    It seems clear to me where all this is heading with PTC aiding and abetting the development of the site with their mention of the need for a Public Works Loan ‘towards the cost of maintaining and developing the building – including upgrading the toilets and kitchens’.
    In other words the place is going down the pan and will continue to do so until one day, in a meeting, a councillor will roll out the costs for the property’s repair and everyone will vote it too much to ‘return it to its former glory’ and in will come the bulldozers.

    • Red Alert says:

      Either that or they’re planning to turn it into Centre Parcs Penarth.
      I agree that the warning signs are there.
      Something’s afoot.

  12. Writing on the Wall says:

    What a shocking way for Penarth Town Council to behave.
    So called ‘elected’ yet carrying on in such a secretive fashion as though they are answerable to nobody.
    Then again…perhaps Penarth Town Council has got wind of the Vale’s determination to milk the place for income – one can only begin to imagine the kind of ill-advised zip-wire folly that will involve – and were trying to wrest control before the place turns into Barry Island II.

  13. Fur Coat No Knickers says:

    Big ideas from a bunch of amateurs.

  14. Tick Tock says:

    House and grounds estimated to be worth three million?
    And the rest.
    Surely can’t be long before the Vale accepts a developer’s offer… “at a time of financial constraint” and all that.

  15. Wave Goodbye to the Kymin says:

    I anticipate the Vale’s release of two statements, something along the lines of the following.
    First a) At a time of FINANCIAL CONSTRAINT, it is incumbent on us to investigate ways in which The Kymin – a very strategic asset in Penarth, and indeed the wider Vale of Glamorgan, occupying a highly prominent location adjacent to the Esplanade and the Pier – can be utilised to increase the council’s income, thereby allowing us to fulfil our service obligations to the community.
    To this end, the following attractions are proposed:
    * 24-hour illuminated concrete rollerblade bowl
    * white water rafting
    * go-carting
    * paintball
    * bungee jumping
    * automated Dr Who and Sherlock exhibitions, exploiting the town’s popularity as a location for such television shows.
    It should be noted that in line with our pedigree as a council which dutifully seeks public consultation – witness our performance re. the Railway Path, Lavernock Road’s grass verges and the development of St Paul’s as just three examples of our eager interaction with the electorate – a thirty-minute event will be held at the Paget Rooms to allow the local community to offer an opinion.
    Then shortly after b) At a time of financial constraint, the council is saddened to announce that The Kymin has been sold to developers. This is a consequence of the public outcry at our attempts to ensure the site generated an income (as opposed to merely operating as an occasional meeting place for community groups).
    The roof needed replacing, ditto the kitchen and lavs and we did tell you we couldn’t afford it.
    The proceeds of the sale will enable us to fill the potholes which are of such considerable concern to so many in the town.

    • Tom Perry says:

      What a load of cobblers. Without even the saving grace of being amusing.

      • Andrew says:

        You’re quite right, there is nothing funny about it. Wave goodbye to the kymin is right – the Vale of Glamorgan council has us over a barrel.

      • Not a million Miles away says:

        You may mock, Tom Perry, but I suspect WGTTK isn’t far from the truth.

  16. Save The Kymin says:

    The money needed to keep the Kymin in good repair has been spent on the park house at Penarth Rugby /Cricket Club this building has been continually worked on for over 10 years to my observation. This property is not only owned by the Council but occupied by a Vale of Glamorgan council employee !!!!! all this money coming out of the public purse so to speak. I wonder how much has been spent on this property and whether the occupants have paid anything towards this now very impressive spick and span property. Right to buy springs to mind now the works are complete. It makes me annoyed that when the cricket covers were vandalised it was right outside this property which should be occupied by a Park Keeper to prevent this type of incident happening. Make it public knowledge how much has been spent and who approved it.

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