BERNI FAMILY DIFFER OVER PLAN TO DEMOLISH “THE HIGHLANDS”

A view from the garden showing one wing of The Highlands and the unique turret providing a panoramic view from the highest point of land in the Cogan area

A view from the garden showing one wing of The Highlands and the unique turret providing a panoramic view from the highest point of land in the Cogan area

The controversial scheme  to demolish  The Highlands –  a rare and unusual “Arts and Crafts”- style turreted mansion which stands in a prominent position on the main route into Penarth  – is attracting not only  increasing opposition from local residents but also now seems to have created a split between members of the family which lived there.

Highlands is owned by Mr Simon Berni who wants to demolish the classic mansion – once the home of a Penarth shipowner – and build an estate of 9 new houses in its grounds .

However 4 other members of the Berni family  – Myfanwy Berni, Michael Berni , Gavin Berni and Kathryn Berni  have joined with other local residents in writing to the Vale of Glamorgan Council to register their objections to the scheme.

The classic Penarth mansion "The Highlands" - occupies a commanding position at the "Gateway to Penarth"

The classic Penarth mansion “The Highlands” – occupies a commanding position at the “Gateway to Penarth” and is the most spectacular Victorian villa in the town.

A joint letter of objection submitted on behalf of local residents and of the 4 Berni family-members, states ” Some of us are neighbouring occupiers of the site, and others have a family interest in the site.  We have examined the plans and we know the site well. We wish to object strongly to the development of these houses in this location.”

The letter states that “ the house in question, Highlands, is of special architectural interest, having been built for a sea-captain during the 19th century in order that he could observe his ships, and has since formed part of the landscape of Penarth.  Its architectural style is Arts & Crafts, which is similar to other buildings in Penarth designed by John Coates Carter.”

Their letter goes on to say that “Highlands is a Penarth landmark and forms part of the visual amenity enjoyed by those approaching Penarth and town dwellers alike.  One of its features is a circular tower, an unique architectural feature.”

A planning application has been made to build 9 detatched houses on the site of The Highlands, on Old Barry Road

A planning application has been made to build 9 detached houses on the site of The Highlands, on Old Barry Road

The objectors say “During WWII, Highlands was the headquarters for Penarth’s Home Guard, and the grounds also housed temporary pre-fabricated dwellings, in order to re-house those affected by the war.  We feel that a building like this should be preserved as it forms part of Penarth’s architectural and maritime heritage, its demolition would not enhance the special architectural and historic interest of the town.”

The Bernis – and the other local objectors –  also cite several other grounds for their objections including road safety. Only one local resident appears to have supported the scheme – on the grounds that ‘more activity’ in the area would discourage “fly-tipping”.

The Highlands stands in its own secluded grounds on the highest point of land in Cogan (Google Earth image)

The Highlands stands in its own secluded grounds on the highest point of land in Cogan (Google Earth image)

Meanwhile the Ancient Monuments Society has written to the Vale of Glamorgan Council; saying “Our attention has been drawn to this proposal to destroy the late Victorian villa known as “The Highlands”  – which the society says could have been designed by Victorian architects Edwin Seward or Brice Vaughan.

The "tourelle" of "The Highlands" gives and unrivalled view over the River Ely and Cardiff Bay

The “tourelle” of “The Highlands” gives an unrivalled view over the River Ely and Cardiff Bay

The Ancient Monuments Society says the mansion is “a striking composition, especially the tourelle with the balcony offering grand views out. It deserves better than to be destroyed, especially as it can clearly be retained with new housing reserved to the gardens.”

Peter Thomas Conservation Officer for the Vale of Glamorgan Council

Peter Thomas Conservation Officer for the Vale of Glamorgan Council

Also moving to save “The Highlands” for Penarth’s posterity is the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Conservation Officer Peter Thomas

Mr Thomas agrees with the Ancient Monuments Society that “The Highlandsis of some historical/architectural merit. It would seem to meet the criteria for inclusion as a locally listed ‘County Treasure'”. [the Vale Council’s official list of outstanding buildings in the area ]and says the mansion  could be retained and the proposed new housing  development built around it – thus “saving a locally important building.”

The application to demolish the spectacular and historic building is due to come before the Vale of Glamorgan’s planning committee next month.

 

 

 

 

 

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TEACHER AT PENARTH’S YSGOL Y DERI SPECIAL SCHOOL IS SUSPENDED FOR 18 MONTHS

The new Ysgol-y-Deri is part of the £49,000,000 Penarth Learning Centre

The new Ysgol-y-Deri is part of the £49,000,000 Penarth Learning Centre

The Education Workforce Council has suspended a teacher for 18 months following a disciplinary hearing in which he was found “guilty of unacceptable professional conduct ” at Penarth’s Ysgol y Deri Special School.

The teacher, Mr Benjamin Williams, has been issued with a suspension order which takes effect as of yesterday  – January 19th 2017  – and will expire on July 19th 2018 provided, the council says, he “meets the condition of the order within the time scale”.

The council heard that Mr Williams had allegedly allowed one pupil to leave the classroom unsupervised, a second to “leave the classroom unsupervised on one or more occasions” and a third had been “left alone and unsupervised in a ‘breakout’ room” .

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DINAS POWYS “WALK OF FAME” PLAQUE FOR OLYMPIC SAILING CHAMPION HANNAH MILLS

The special plaque installed at The Twyn in the centre of Dinas Powys

A special plaque installed at The Twyn in the centre of Dinas Powys now marks the achievements of local Olympic Gold Medal champion yachtswoman Hannah Mills MBE

Dinas Powys has today been celebrating the achievements of local hero and Olympic gold medal sailor Hannah Mills MBE –  who hails from the village and who learned to sail in Penarth.

Dinas Powys Community Council hosted a special reception at the Parish Hall and a celebratory plaque has been installed in a paved area of the  “The Twyn” –  on what is now probably destined to become Dinas Powys’s very own Hollywood-style “walk of fame”.

Dinas Powys villagers joined Hannah Mills for an informal reception at the Parish Hall

Dinas Powys villagers joined Hannah Mills for an informal reception at the Parish Hall

Hannah – with her crewmate Saskia Clark – won the won gruelling women’s 470 Class in the 2016 Rio Olympics amd has since been awarded  an MBE and endowed with several other prestigious titles.

From left to right Cllr Margaret Hayley chair of Dinas Powys Community Council, Hannah Mills MBE and the Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns who is MP for the Vale of Glamorgan

(Left to right) Cllr Margaret Hayley chair of Dinas Powys Community Council, Hannah Mills MBE and the Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns who is MP for the Vale of Glamorgan

Amongst the distinguished guests and councillors and members of local organisations attending today’s celebration, was the Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns who is Conservative MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, and the chair  of Dinas Powys Community Council  Cllr Margaret Hayley (Conservative Twyn Ward) – who will be retiring from the council in May this year.

The Welsh Secretary has just become a trustee of Ocean Water Sports which is developing the Barry Community Water Sports Centre at Barry Docks

Members of Dinas Powys Community Council pose for a historic photo with MBE and Olympic Champion Hannah Mills

Members of Dinas Powys Community Council pose for a historic photo with Olympic Champion Hannah Mills MBE

Several members of Dinas Powys Community Council also attended what was an unique event in the history of the village

Hannan Mills MBE shares a joke with local villagers at the reception at Dinas Powys Parish Hall

Hannan Mills MBE shares a joke with local villagers at the reception at Dinas Powys Parish Hall

Hannah, who is very well-known in her home village, enjoyed meeting again many local people and has confirmed that she will be defending her title in the 2020  Olympic Games in Tokyo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TWO-MONTH-LONG WAIT FOR ARRIVA TRAINS AT PENARTH’S DINGLE STATION

On November 23rd 2016 the add train  came and went - but there was no sign of Arriva's liong promised maintenance team - due to start work that day. No one has seen them since.

On November 23rd 2016 trains came and went – but there was no sign of Arriva’s long promised maintenance team – due to start work that day on the overgrown disused platform.

Arriva Trains Wales – the German-owned rail operator which runs the Valleys rail service  is used to having its  customers complain about trains being late, or cancelled without notice, but its customary day-to-day delays are –  it seems – as nothing compared with its performance at Penarth’s Dingle Road Station.

In a series of emails, Arriva had faithfully promised Robert Donaldson of the “Friends of Dingle Park” [ the volunteer environmental group that’s transformed nearby Dingle Park] –  that it would be dispatching a crew to clear away the rubbish, fly-tipping and undergrowth that’s accumulated at Dingle Station over the years- particularly on the now-disused platform on the opposite side of the track .

The unsightly and unkempt overgrown platform at Dingle Road Station contains fly-tipped rubbish

The unsightly and unkempt overgrown platform at Dingle Road Station contains fly-tipped rubbish

“Friends of Dingle Park” couldn’t undertake the platform clearing work themselves because only properly-qualified staff maintenance workers can carry out such operations on railway property . The sequence of events was as follows:-

On May 9th 2016 Mr Donaldson had contacted Arriva and asked them to tidy-up the Dingle Road station.  His request was received and it was confirmed that it would be passed to Arriva’s “community relations” department. There followed another email saying that “Your service request has been assigned to our Maintenance team to investigate further”

On October 3rd 2016 Arriva wrote to Mr Donaldson saying  “We’ve noticed that it has been a number of months since your enquiry has been updated. Unfortunately our maintenance teams have a higher than normal work load so occasionally requests can take longer than expected to be resolved. As it has been a while since we have heard from you, could you please confirm if this issue is still ongoing and requires our attention?”

On October 10th 2016 Mr Donaldson checked his emails, found the Arriva missive and rang them immediately to say the issue was indeed “still ongoing”.

On October  12th 2016 Arriva emailed Mr Donaldson to say Arriva’s “Maintenance Protection Coordinator” had  scheduled an inspection for Monday 17th October between 12pm and 4pm.

On October 18th 2016 Arriva informed Mr Donaldson that the Maintenance Protection Coordinator had scheduled the removal of the fly-tipped items on November 23rd 2016.

On November 23rd 2016 …. nobody from Arriva actually turned up.

November 23 2016 . A train approaches Dingle Station from Penarth Town. But there was no sign of the Arriva Maintenance team.

November 23 2016 . A train approaches Dingle Station from Penarth Town. But there was no sign of the Arriva Maintenance team which had been due to start work that day.

Not only did no one turn-up, but Mr Donaldson didn’t even get an email explaining why the crew had been delayed, or perhaps missed their train. The wait turned into hours, them days, then weeks. …And even  today there’s still  no sign of the missing Arriva crew commencing the long promised work at Dingle Road .

In desperation Mr Donaldson has now contacted Penarth Town Council to see if it can use its influence to persuade Arriva and its Teutonic parent company, Deutsch Bahn, to fulfill its promises.

PDN Note:  Arriva Trains Wales is part of the Arriva group, which is owned by Deutsche Bahn.  Today the Welsh Affairs Committee in the House of Commons has said  people were tired of “old and cramped” trains provided by Arriva Trains Wales. The Welsh Government is due to decide who runs the next Wales and Borders franchise from 2018

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PENARTH HEIGHTS DEVELOPER SEEKS APPROVAL TO FELL 43 TREES IT’S ALREADY AXED

All the trees marked in red would be felled. The one's in light brown would be "thinned" and the green ones left alone.

All the trees marked in red have apparently already been felled  – but were  removed without formal council permission. Now the Penarth Heights developers Crest Nicholson are requesting a “retrospective” “non-material development” to regularise the position  . The trees in brown were to be “thinned” and the green trees were to be left untouched.

A retrospective “non-material amendment” has been submitted by the developers of Penarth Heights , Crest Nicholson to regularise apparently unauthorised removal of trees in the course of the construction of the large residential development which replaced the “Billybanks” council estate [which originally stood on the Penarth Escarpment].

PDN has been told that Crest Nicholson went ahead with the build without first discharging some of the planning conditions which were to have been implemented before work started. The firm is said not to have had all the conditions formally agreed with the Vale Council in advance.

Penarth Heights under development. Formal permission is now being sought to remove some trees taken out during construction. Permissions Trees removed during development

Penarth Heights as it looked when under development . Formal permission is now being sought to remove some trees which were actually taken down during construction. (Google Earth image). The bat boxes were to have been installed in the woods at the top left of the picture

The new submission is a move to “regularise” what has, in fact,  already occurred on the site. It doesn’t mean any more trees will be chopped down now;  it means that the firm is requesting retrospective permission for clearance work that it has already carried out – probably some years ago . From the Crest plan it appears that about 43 trees were earmarked for removal and taken down.

The new application enables the wording of the original planning conditions to be altered to take account of the current actual position. A PDN source says Crest Nicholson “should have submitted the details before they commenced work. They didn’t.”

Tree surgeons at work removing undergrowth from the escarpment overlooking Penarth Marina

Tree surgeons at work removing undergrowth from the escarpment overlooking Penarth Marina last year.

The cleared area marked on the plan (top of the item) appears to include part of the escarpment slope overlooking the marina inner basin – the clearance of which was subject to considerable public criticism.

The Vale Council will now carry out checks with its other departments to ensure that the current position –  as stated by Crest Nicholson – is correct.

A “non-material” application means that the matter is considered to be relatively minor and there  need be no public consultation or planning committee discussion about the matter.

A bat box

A bat box

Details of the trees recommended for felling were originally published in 2007 in a Crest Nicholson-commissioned consultants’ report.

Another obligation which Crest Nicholson had undertaken was the provision of 10 “bat-boxes” for the wooded area in the North West of the site.

However Crest Nicholson now say :  “The provision of bat boxes is as per the action agreed in our meeting earlier this year”.However, under the 2012 permission, this action is no longer necessary due to no conditions requiring ecological mitigation”

 

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PENARTH TEACHER CLAIMS TO BE “VICTIM OF A VENDETTA”

Ysgol y Deri is situated on the same campus as St Cyres School on Sully Road, Penarth

Ysgol y Deri is situated on the same campus as St Cyres School on Sully Road, Penarth

A teacher at Penarth’s special school Ysgol-y-Deri has claimed he was the “victim of a vendetta by the head and governors”  in respect of matters which arose at the end of 2012.

It’s alleged that the teacher – Ben Williams – left three of his pupils ( two with Down’s Syndrome and one with “Autism Spectrum Disorder and behavioural difficulties” ) without supervision in three separate incidents in December 2014 . Mr Williams denies “unacceptable professional behaviour ”

The case is being heard by  the  Education Workforce Council’s “fitness to practice committee” at the Village Hotel in Cardiff.  Mr Williams had been suspended from the school after a third incident at the school – shortly after its opening – and he was dismissed about a year later.

The specific charges are that Mr Williams :-

  • allowed Pupil A to leave the classroom unsupervised.
  • allowed Pupil B to leave the classroom unsupervised on one or more occasions.
  • left Pupil C alone and unsupervised in a “break-out” room.

Mr Williams’s representative Matthew Richards has told the hearing that his client had been “singled out for unfair treatment compared to others, that this is personal on the part of the head and that events leading up to the previous disciplinary are relevant as to why the school took the action that it did.”

A former deputy head teacher at the school, Gail George, said she believed Mr Williams had been “set up to fail” by the headmaster.

Cadi Dewi, representing Vale of Glamorgan Council, has told the panel: “By his actions or lack of actions on these occasions, he allowed these children to leave the classroom unattended. As class teacher, he had responsibility for these pupils and we say he failed in that.”

The proceedings are due to continue today and tomorrow Friday  January 20th 2017.

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BIZWATCH: CARDIFF CRUISES GOES UP FOR SALE

HMS 69 disembarks passengers at Penarth's water Taxi pontoon

HMS 69 disembarks passengers at Penarth’s water Taxi pontoon

Cardiff Cruises – the pleasure boat business based in Penarth Marina which operates the “HMS 69”  booze cruises aboard its  familiar red-painted steel-hulled passenger vessel – is up for sale  with a price tag of £150,000 – including the boat itself.

Skipper Martin Driscoll is "swallowing the anchor" and selling his business

Skipper Martyn Driscoll is “swallowing the anchor” and selling his business

Owner Martyn Driscoll says the sale will include the firm’s website and booking system, all social media accounts and details of how the company runs.

Mr Driscoll says his firm makes about  £125,000 a year 60% from on-board parties and 40% from tours of Cardiff Bay.

The business is run by a staff of six – who Martyn says – apart from the boat itself –  are “the biggest asset” .

There are plans to install a new upper deck on the existing boat to increase the capacity of the vessel to  80.

HMS 69 sets out from Penarth

HMS 69 sets out from Penarth

The idea for Cardiff Cruises came to Martyn  after being part of a travel team promoting “party cruises”  in Sydney Harbour.  He founded the operation in 2008 – focused on the stag/hen and birthday market but after 9 years has now decided on a “change of scene”  .

 

 

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