RESIDENTS have said they feel they are not being listened to regarding the future of St Paul's Church in Penarth.

Members of St Paul's Church Community Group attending a meeting of Penarth Town Council's democratic and civic services committee last week expressed their concern that residents had not been properly consulted on what they would like to see happen at the church.

Representatives from Newydd Housing Association and planning agents White Young Green (WYG) gave a presentation on their plans for the Arcot Street site, which has been left empty since 2011.

The proposals are for 15 one and two bedroom flats and a 300 square metre community space spread over two floors with the front facade of the listed building due to be maintained.

But the three public speakers all expressed their concern about the lack of consultation with the community.

Kate Davies from the St Paul's Community Group said: "Local people are upset about St Paul’s because the engagement has has been shocking for years.

"The responsible Vale of Glamorgan cabinet elected members have made decisions on this in a mysterious manner.

"Between March 2015 and February 2017 there were no cabinet meetings about St Pauls, yet two fundamental decisions happened.

"The Community Interest Company (CIC) proposal was rejected and it was decided to approach registered social landlords to deliver a mixed use development - a u-turn from solely community facilities.

"Nobody asked the community their thoughts nor mentioned that the Vale of Glamorgan council was heading in a new direction."

She said the group wanted to know how the decision was made, who made it and why there was such secrecy around it.

Tim Land, also from the group, said: "There are more than 1200 dwellings within a 500 metre radius of the site.

"It is one of the most densely populated areas of Penarth but some people say they have not received any consultation documents."

A public exhibition was held in September at the Paget Rooms for residents to view the plans.

Jon Hurley from WYG said that they had delivered letters and flyers in the local area, displayed the plans outside the building itself and held a public consultation event at the Paget Rooms which was "well attended".

They also held a separate exercise in the form of a survey to assess what people wanted for the community space.

Mr Hurley said it allowed them to have a "greater understanding of how the community space could be put to use".

"It opened a dialogue which is really useful," he said. "We want something that works for everyone."

A spokesman for the Vale of Glamorgan council said the property was marketed in late 2014 and early 2015 after cabinet approved a development for community/recreational uses or as a mixed-use scheme.

"Only one bid was received from a local community group," he said. "Though potentially an interesting concept, by the end of 2015 the CIC had not brought forward a viable business case, which, as the CIC was aware, was an absolute requirement.

"The council focused its attention throughout 2016 on resolving other issues associated with the property.

"Thereafter local registered social landlords were approached to see if they would consider purchasing the site to deliver this kind of space as part of a more viable mixed-use development, including some affordable dwellings.

"Cabinet at its meeting on February 20 approved this new approach, which led to the selection of Newydd Housing Association.

"The council when inviting bids from the RSLs emphasised the importance of the successful applicant undertaking early community consultation.

"Newydd Housing Association has therefore been consulting the local community on their ambitious scheme for a prominent high-quality community space alongside new affordable homes at the rear of the site.

"If delivered, subject to planning permission and funding, this project would comprehensively regenerate a derelict property, deliver a quality community space for the enjoyment of local residents and provide much needed affordable homes.

"It would represent a truly creative, sustainable mixed-use redevelopment of the site and provide multiple regeneration benefits.

"Local residents will be given the opportunity to further comment on the scheme proposal when a planning application is submitted by Newydd Housing Association."