PENARTH Town Council look set to announce a seven per cent rise in the council tax precept next week, as part of their plans to launch a major investment project for the town.

The proposals would see the town council’s three primary assets of West House, the cemetery and the Paget Rooms all undergo significant revamps, while they also intend to take out a long-term lease on The Kymin – which is currently owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council – following an asset transfer.

The precept is the segment of council tax that is payable directly to the town council, as opposed to the local authority. If approved, the annual town council precept would increase to £67.75 for a Band D household, and would likely see it remain as the highest in the Vale of Glamorgan.

By upgrading the current facilities, the council are looking to generate increased revenue through private hire of the Paget Rooms and The Kymin, while also utilising West House as a central hub for a ‘business zone’ at the centre of Penarth.

While both the Paget Rooms and The Kymin are already used by community groups and for private functions, it is hoped that the additional investment will give the buildings more professional facilities and greater versatility, thereby broadening their number of potential users.

The council also highlighted concerns that the cemetery was running out of space, saying they would need to remodel the facilities there in order to continue using the site. There are also plans to redevelop the chapel, which is currently used largely for storage.

The increase in the council tax precept – equivalent to an extra £4.44 per year for a Band D property – will not be sufficient to cover the costs and is likely to go towards assessing the feasibility of the projects, as well as any consultation procedures needing to be undertaken with members of the local community. Funding for the projects themselves is set to come from a number of avenues, with the majority of spending likely to be accounted for by a public works loan, which the council would intend to repay over the course of around 30 years.

The council intends to spend around two per cent of the proposed precept towards funding the agenda. The further five per cent of the rise is deigned to account for inflation and staff pay increases.

Other sources of finance being investigated are likely to include grants paid to a new charitable arm of the town council called The West House Foundation. An application to form the charity is currently under consideration by the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Improvements to the West House Community Garden Project are also set to go ahead, with plans to make the gardens a more appealing place for young people to stop by. The possibility of open-air events being hosted there in the future is also being assessed.

As for the building itself, co-working firm Indycube – who provide office space for freelancers and self-employed people – already operate from within West House, with plans to attract more small businesses to utilise it as a miniaturised business zone.

The proposals are likely to be backed by both the governing Labour and Conservative groups on the council, with both agreeing that major financial investment is necessary to fulfil the council’s long-term ambitions.

Council leader Mike Cuddy said: “The ambition is to try and raise the game, but to take the steps necessary to manage the change successfully.

“Because of our ambitions, we feel that there are opportunities to modernise these buildings and to raise more income, and that’s what we’re trying to launch through our budget.

“We are saying there’s an opportunity to do an awful lot here in Penarth. The whole concept of what we’re trying to do has changed.

“The logic, in terms of applying for a public works loan, is not out of kilter with the ambition that we have and the size of the council.”

Once confirmed, the council is likely to host a series of public consultations on the plans over the coming months, however the exact form this will take has not yet been decided.

A meeting of the full council is set to take place on Wednesday, February 7, to formally approve the proposals. The meeting is due to begin at 7pm and is open to members of the public.