Site of former church provides new homes for seven families
Residents have moved into new homes at Llys yr Eglwys in Pontllanfraith that have been built on the site of the former St Mary’s Church.
An event was held on Friday 28th January to mark the completion of the new homes, and to celebrate the partnership between Housing Justice Cymru, Caerphilly County Borough Council and Pobl Group. Guests included the Bishop of Monmouth, Cherry Vann, who gave a short address.
Bishop Cherry, said: “I am very pleased to be here representing the Church in Wales to celebrate the completion of this project along with our partners Housing Justice Cymru, Caerphilly County Borough Council and Pobl Group. The original vision for this building back in the 1950’s was for it to be a house of prayer, a place that symbolised God’s presence in this community and a spiritual space where people could come to mark significant moments in their lives through baptisms, weddings and funerals. It was a place for Christians to gather to worship and to reach out in service to the community. I am delighted that although this building has closed as a church, it continues to serve the community by providing much needed shelter and housing. We should never underestimate the importance of having good quality affordable housing available for local people. Houses not only provide shelter from the elements, they are homes, giving people a sense of place and belonging in a community and a space to live with comfort and security. It is inspiring to see the project come to fruition and for these new homes to be occupied, and good to be here to celebrate it together.”
St Mary’s was constructed in 1957 as part of a wider post-war planned estate in Penllwyn. It closed in 2016 after almost 60 years serving the community.
The site was acquired by Pobl Group from the Church in Wales, aided by Housing Justice Cymru’s Faith in Affordable Housing initiative. The seven new homes for social rent replace the closed St Mary’s Church.
The dedication stone from the church has been retained and incorporated into the new development.
Work was carried out by Kingfisher Developments Ltd. and began in March 2020. The site closed briefly at the outset of the pandemic but progressed well during 2021, and the homes were handed over in December 2021, with the first residents being able to move in just before Christmas.
The development comprises two 1-bed 2-person apartments, two 2-bed 3-person apartments, one 2-bed 4-person house, one 3-bed 5-person house and one 4-bed 6-person house.
Ellis Cunliffe, Project Manager at Pobl Group, said: “With this development, we have striven to respect the history of the church building and what it has meant to the local community, working closely in partnership with Housing Justice Cymru. We also wish to fully recognise the support of Caerphilly CBC and Welsh Government and to wish the new residents many happy years in their new homes.”
Sian Bradley, Faith in Affordable Housing Partnership Co-ordinator at Housing Justice Cymru said: “We would like to thank the Church in Wales and Pobl Group for committing to our Faith in Affordable Housing programme. Since 2016, we have been helping to connect churches with housing organisations to bring church-owned land and redundant buildings into use for affordable housing. We recognize that whilst it can be a sad time for church congregations when church buildings close, St Marys demonstrates that there can be positive outcomes . Llys yr Eglwys is a fantastic example of regeneration in the heart of community, and we commend the work of Pobl Group and Kingfisher Developments to deliver the homes through the course of the pandemic; completing homes for new tenants in time for Christmas.”
Cllr Shayne Cook, Caerphilly Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Care and Housing, added “Delivering high quality homes to help meet increasing local demand is a key priority for the council and partnership working is key to this. It’s fantastic to see this previously vacant site transformed to provide new homes in the community, whilst also retaining links to the former church.”
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Pobl Group consists of over 2500 people making a difference through housing, care and support. Pobl manages over 17,000 homes and provides care or support to almost 10,000 people across Wales. Find out more on our website: www.poblgroup.co.uk