THE DEVELOPERS behind Penarth's controversial St Paul's Church project have defended the plans saying that the building will remain “a place where the local community can meet and thrive”.

Following the recent planning approval by the Vale of Glamorgan Council for St Paul’s Church on Arcot Street in Penarth, Newydd Housing Association is now progressing its plans to build flats, as well as create a community hub at the heart of the development.

Newydd Housing Association has been given permission to turn St Paul’s church into 14 affordable apartments, with some of the building being used as a community hall.

The church will be demolished to make way for the development of 11 one bed and three two-bed flats, but the facade of the church will be retained.

The plans for the church faced criticism and anger from some residents who have said they felt the residential aspect had taken priority over the much need community space the church has historically served as.

The building has been left empty since 2011 when Penarth Gymnastics Club and Penarth Boxing Club were forced to leave.

However, Newydd Housing Association said it will aim to create something the local community can appreciate and enjoy.

Simon Morris, property director at Newydd said: “The St Paul’s Church development will not just offer affordable homes, but it will be a place where the local community can meet and continue to thrive.

“We are committed to creating a community space that works for everyone and we are working with an independent consultant to ensure that this is the case.”

Newydd is aiming to start on-site in the autumn, to ensure that there is no risk to nesting birds and bats.

The projected completion date is early 2020.

The facade will remain as outlined in the approved plans.