Protesters block installation of floating hotel pods in Penarth
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
The company behind plans to install floating hotel pods in Penarth has insisted that their development is lawful after protesters turned out to block continued work.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council revealed that it is investigating whether or not the floating hotel pods proposed for Penarth Marina require planning permission.
Two floating pods have already been set up on the marina and more are expected to be installed.
However, residents who are opposed to the plans turned out to block further pods from being lifted into the water yesterday (6 December).
Nick Palit, who lives at the Marina, said he first noticed the pods arriving about ten days ago.
He said: “They just appeared outside our house and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“Not only is it completely out of keeping with our environment, our view is completely obliterated, it goes against the whole nature of the place.
“We have got a lovely natural habitat for wild birds. There’s kingfishers, there’s coots, there’s swans, all nesting on that grassy bank and that whole habitat will be ruined by the sighting of these 10 or 20 pods that are put there.”
Certificate of lawfulness
Last year, the council issued Boatfolk Marinas Limited with a certificate of lawfulness for the use of Penarth Marina for the floating pods.
The document confirming the council’s decision states that the proposal for the floating pods, described as ‘vessels’ in the certificate of lawfulness, is “in line with the approved use of the site” and that a “material change of use” has not taken place.
However, a number of residents argued that the floating pods are not technically vessels and that a change of use of the site has taken place.
Mr Palit added: “By anyone’s definition, these are not vessels, these are not boats. They are floating portacabins and they are not even floating.
“They have been put on to a pontoon, then bolted to another pontoon and connected to mains sewage.”
A spokesperson from the Vale of Glamorgan Council confirmed: “Following complaints about pods at Penarth Marina, the Council’s Planning Team are investigating whether they require planning permission.”
Gwynne Griffiths of the Marina and Haven Residents’ Association, said: “For Boatfolk to try and put in more pods again while that process is going through is what we found was unacceptable.”
Expressing his thoughts on the look of the containers, Mr Griffiths added: “Talking bluntly, they are just grey containers.
“Particularly with the way they are placed outside the houses, they are looking directly at the rear of a grey container.”
Some of the residents who are opposed to the development also claim that there was no consultation with those who live next to the proposed location of the pods.
Nicola Roberts, whose home looks out on to the back end of the pods, said she is “horrified” by them.
She said: “From our perspective, they look like public conveniences because we have got the back end of them.
“I just don’t think they are suitable for this sort of environment anyway.
“The impact it is going to have on our lives is just dreadful. I have contemplated selling up.”
Another resident of the marina, Ann Turner, said: “They are not vessels.
“They are just inappropriate for the Marina. It is going to spoil the whole ambience of it.
“The reason we are here today is because we feel that if we don’t make a stand they will be here and once they are in, they are in.”
A spokesperson for Boatfolk said: “We can confirm that we have pursued all the appropriate channels for berthing these unique vessels within Penarth Marina, including significant engagement with the Council, and we are confident that they are lawful.
“The floating rooms are non-permanent structures that are capable of being navigated out of the marina and therefore fulfil the definition of a vessel for planning purposes.
“We are also confident that they will have no additional impact on the local environment and refute any claims that the addition of the rooms will pose a threat to local wildlife.”
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