How the Penarth Head walkway (it was supposed to be a cycleway too) would have looked had it ever been built. The Vale of Glamorgan Council had wrongly assumed it owned the entire foreshore. It doesn’t.
The controversial, wildly-expensive and ultimately-doomed Penarth Headland Link (a proposal to build a steel deck skirting around Penarth Head, supported by a succession of cantilevered concrete piles driven into the sandstone bedrock) has emerged as the most-popular single idea for “improving Penarth” in the public consultations held on the forthcoming Penarth Town Plan.
White Design Associates began consulting residents on the Esplanade during the 2013 Summer Festival
The Penarth Town Plan (or “Penarth Town Place Plan” as it’s called in ‘local-authority-speak’) is set to be unveiled at a public presentation in the Paget Rooms on Tuesday evening September 30th at 19:00 (18:30 for preliminary tea and biscuits). (See PDN http://wp.me/p2MG3c-4Xz)
The “public consultations” on the plan were carried out in 2013 by Bristol consultants White Design under contract to Penarth Town Council and took the form of questionnaires which members of the public could fill in . They could then cast their “vote” into a “ballot box” at Penarth Library or submit a response on a postcard direct to Penarth Town Council.
Despite considerable publicity during the summer and autumn of 2013 – and several postponements of the “closing date” – only 270 responses were received.
Penarth Town Plan officer Rob Callaghan
This week the Headland Link was described as being “hugely popular” in these responses by Town Plan officer Rob Callaghan in a presentation to Penarth Civic Society. (However, at the same meeting the entire raison d’etre for having a Town Plan at all came under fire)
When the Penarth Headland Link Scheme was first conceived it had been argued it would save people the inconvenience and difficulty of walking along the beach from the Cardiff Bay Barrage to Penarth Esplanade.
The Headland Link would save cyclists having to struggle up to the summit of Penarth at St Augustines
It would also have saved cyclists the effort of having to climb to an altitude of 200 feet above sea level to crest the summit of the Penarth escarpment.
The Headland Link was intended to provide easy “level-access” to Penarth’s sea front.
The damaging effect the project it might have on tourism – by visitors “by-passing” Penarth town-centre – was never considered.
An artist’s impression of the Penarth Headland Link or Walkway as it would have looked from the air
The Penarth Headland Link/Walkway had its genesis under the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation , the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Welsh Assembly Government. It was backed by the then MP for Cardiff South and Penarth Alun Michael. Surviving documents show it was plan which was never properly thought through, never properly costed – and on which the Vale of Glamorgan Council had neglected to carry out even the most elementary research .
The undulating walkway over the sea was to be shared between pedestrians and cyclists (Artist’s impression courtesy of Soltys Brewster/ Patel Taylor)
Millions of pounds of public money were wasted on development costs alone. The Vale of Glamorgan Council received an initial down payment of £7.5 million from the Welsh Government to get the Penarth Head Link project going – money stripped out of the prudently-managed assets of the now-defunct Cardiff Bay Development Corporation
The Multi-Storey car park (on the right of the photo) became part of Penarth’s Esplanade – but was demolished to make way for the Penarth Head Link. The Link was never built.
Penarth’s now much-needed Esplanade multi-storey car park was arbitrarily and unnecessarily demolished to make way for the projected Headland Link – even though the car park was barely 30 years old .
Claims that the structure of the car park was “unsafe” were unsubstantiated. The Welsh Government criticised the Vale Council for not providing any justification for its demolition. The promise of a replacement car park was never fulfilled.
The Penarth Head Walkway’s narrow steel deck would have been supported 20 feet above the sea on massive angled concrete pillars
The projected costs of the Headland Link scheme multiplied exponentially until they reached a staggering £23,500,000.
The entire project finally ran off the rails when it was discovered – at the eleventh hour – that the Vale of Glamorgan Council had assumed that it actually owned the entire foreshore on which the structure would have been built – but had neglected to verify this.
It turned out that the Vale Council’s blithe assumption was wrong. Two tracts of the foreshore are privately-owned and would need to be compulsorily-purchased in a complex, expensive and time-consuming process.
The Penarth Headland Link with its cantilevered legs and its narrow steel deck on which pedestrians and cyclists would have had to jostle for space 20 feet above the sea – now lay dead in the water .Not a single ounce of concrete was laid and nothing was ever built.
The only thing left behind was a large black hole of missing public money.