The planning officers of the Vale of Glamorgan Council are today recommending to councillors that they should allow the demolition of the former St Paul’s Church in Arcot St Penarth – and its controversial replacement with a block of 14 rented social housing apartments.
The planning application for the apartment development – by the Newydd Housing Association – is to be discussed by the full Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee on Thursday next week ( April 26th).
More than 63 local people have sent letters, complaining about the development, to the Vale of Glamorgan Council and raising a number of concerns – all of which have already been ignored by the Labour-controlled Penarth Town Council’s planning committee.
The local residents have objected loss of community facilities [the church – originally bought and paid for by the people of Penarth – was previously used by the local boxing and gym clubs] the lack of on-site parking for future tenants, the density of development and the plan to remove the pedestrian pavement on the adjoining thoroughfare Chapel Lane.
On the issue of parking, the Vale of Glamorgan Council officers have now cast doubt on the veracity of the data yielded by the “parking survey” which had been commissioned by the developers. That survey made the less-that-convincing claim that “the development would not materially increase the requirement for additional car parking above that of the existing use at the site”.
The developers had also checked-out “available kerbside parking during the evening time” in the vicinity of St Paul’s and came up with what many local people will consider to be a scarcely credible claim that around 22 street parking spaces are vacant and available every evening.
The Vale of Glamorgan planning officers seem unconvinced by the findings of the developer’s parking survey. They describe it as “limited“ and say that “the data is not considered representative in this instance.”
The developers – Newydd – also claim – in essence – that the hard-up social-housing tenants who will occupy the new apartments won’t be able to afford cars. Newydd’s agents have told the Vale Council that local census data and surveys undertaken at other similar sites “has indicated lower than usual levels of ownership associated with developments of this nature”.
THE FACADE ( i.e. THE EXISTING FRONT OF ST PAUL’S CHURCH)
The report of the Vale Council planning officers states “The proposals relate to the demolition of existing church (with retention of front façade)”
The officers have even inserted a proposed condition which would require the front facade of St Paul’s to be preserved as part of the new building saying :-” The scheme has been developed around the retention of the church façade fronting onto Arcot Street, with a new building attached to the rear. The retention of the façade will retain this prominent feature of the church within the Arcot Street scene and with the part proposed community use, continue its focus for the community.”
In addition, Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust have also urged the facade should be retained because it’s part of Penarth’s history.
However – evidently unnoticed by the Vale planners – and submitted very late in the day, is a report by a firm of civil engineeers called Terrafirma who have been carrying out a survey of the existing St Paul’s building and the site on which it stands – and it appears they have a very different view of the facade and its future.
They say – in effect – that the entire building, facade and all, should be demolished :- “The existing church and adjoining church hall should be demolished, and all foundations and concrete slabs and areas of hardstanding within the development area excavated out and removed.”
UPDATE APRIL 21 2018
In an embarrassing U-Turn yesterday (April 20th) Terrafirma and Newydd submitted an “amended” (and backdated) version of their geotechnical report to the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning department – with this new version inserting the line that the front facade of St Paul’s IS to be retained.
The final decision on St Paul’s Church will be taken in the Vale of Glamorgan Council planning committee on April 26th in a meeting starting at 16:00 hours in the Civic Centre at Barry .