A PLAN to turn a long-empty church in Newport into apartments has been turned down, after two historic groups called the project ‘cumbersome’ and ‘unacceptable’.
Late last year, a planning application was submitted to Newport City Council, with the aim of converting St Paul’s Church on Commercial Street in the town center into homes.
If approved, the interior of the church building would be transformed, paving the way for 16 apartments and four two-bedroom apartments.
Although the plan would have recommissioned the long-empty building, it was met with opposition.
The Georgian group – which specializes in Georgian architecture buildings – called the plans “overdevelopment”.
Continuing, the group stated that: “The subdivision of the interior is unacceptable. If the conversion into a dwelling is acceptable in principle, the building must retain the qualities and the physical references which guarantee that its primary vocation is not suppressed.
“This scheme shows an overbearing division of what was once a revered and holy place, completely failing to meet the Conservation Area Assessment’s recommendation that all development be ‘sympathetic'”.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Society submitted an objection to the project, arguing that the development would “damage to the character and significance” of the old church.
The society argued that “other uses such as business, community or even industry can often warrant greater preservation of significance, with much of the building’s original form preserved”.
But, despite these pleas to find another use for the building, it was pointed out in the initial application that it had been largely empty for some time.
The building has been closed for worship since 1991, although it was used as a drug rehabilitation center for some time after that date.
It was released by the Church of Wales in 2016, before being sold to a new owner in 2018.
However, since then it has been found to have fallen into disrepair, with local residents worrying about the state of its memorial gardens.
The Newport City Council planning officer ultimately sided with those who expressed concern, saying: “The proposed development is considered unacceptable.
“The proposed development is without a good understanding of the significance of the building and its impact on the historic asset, it is also without justification, evaluation of alternatives and evidence that the proposed use is the best and least harmful to the building.
“This does not demonstrate that special attention has been given to preserving the building’s particular historic interests.”
The officer also expressed concern that there was not enough information in place to deal with protected animal species at the development site.
What did the original plans show?
According to planning documents, submitted to Newport City Council by LPC Trull Ltd on behalf of the claimant, the building would have been converted into 16 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments, the latter being on the ground floor. pavement.
The first-floor apartments were all to have internal stairs inside the apartments, leading to a gallery in the attic.
Plans show that the exterior appearance of the building would remain largely unchanged, in keeping with its listed status.
But, a major change would have seen the removal of stained glass to be replaced by clear glass – which the claimant describes as “a necessary adaptation to facilitate modern lifestyles”.
None of the apartments were intended for affordable housing.