News

Developer defends plan to demolish historic church amid ‘heritage emergency’

24 Aug 2021 4 minutes Read
St Baruc’s Church, on Barry Island

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

A developer has defended a plan to demolish a historic church in Barry.

Newydd Housing Association says “recent material alterations” to St Baruc’s Church, on Barry Island has “decreased its architectural merit”.

It added that refurbishing the church would be difficult and the new apartments it wants to build in its place would help meet government targets for new affordable homes.

The plan has come in for heavy criticism, with Plaid Cymru councillors in Barry claiming the town is facing a “heritage emergency” and calling for more protection for historical buildings.

St Baruc’s Church on Phyllis Street would be replaced with a two-storey apartment building, with four one-bed flats. The church, which opened in 1897, is now not in use.

Newydd CEO Jason Wroe said: “We rigorously assess the project brief against criteria, which includes specific design quality requirements necessary of new build affordable housing.

“The design team evaluates all recommendations and in this case they have concluded that the potential of refurbishing St Baruc’s Church was very low.

“Since the original construction of St Baruc’s Church, recent material alterations have decreased its architectural merit, resulting in a much stronger case for a new build development.

“Our aim is to reflect the historical aspect in the architect’s design and our team has taken into full consideration the objectives detailed in planning policy, including the delivery of sustainable places.

“This proposal targets the huge demand for affordable housing in Barry, and in doing so, delivers upon Welsh Governments target of 20,000 low carbon affordable homes.”

There is also a separate move to demolish the New Jerusalem Church on Tynewydd Road in Barry, which is currently derelict. It’s not clear from the planning application what would replace it.

Both applications have not yet been granted planning permission. Members of the public who wish to comment on the applications can do so on the Vale council website.

‘Danger’

Councillor Ian Johnson, representing the Buttrills ward, said: “Without additional protection, Barry’s history is in danger of being demolished around us, piece by piece.

“Victorian or Edwardian era churches might be unremarkable in the wider Welsh context, but these buildings are the foundation stones of our communities in Barry — a town which largely dates from the opening of the docks and development in the 1890s.

“Before any decision is made on Barry’s historical buildings, they should be considered for suitability for other uses, either as apartments or other community uses.

“Churches across town have already made that transition, such as Windsor Road and Porthkerry Road or the churches on Court Road. It is simply not acceptable to simply demolish Barry’s heritage and give our history no protection.”

He added two other historical buildings in Barry were recently demolished, St Paul’s Church on St Paul’s Avenue and the Priory on Broad Street. Both buildings are due to be replaced with housing.

Cllr Nic Hodges, representing the Baruc ward, said: “I’m fed up with people, especially those with power and influence, completely disregarding Barry and our historical and industrial heritage.

“A good chunk of Vale councillors should be ashamed of themselves for their ignorance and arrogance thinking they know what’s best for our town. Continuing demolition of some of our oldest and historically important buildings is the last straw.”

Both applications have not yet been granted planning permission. Members of the public who wish to comment on the applications can do so on the Vale council website.

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