Structural faults appear to be developing in the controversial 19-month-old £100,000 Penarth Head Viewing Platform – built by the Vale of Glamorgan Council inches away from edge of Penarth Head cliff.
Long diagonal cracks have now appeared in the North Eastern corner of the massive 150-tonne structure, indicating that the integrity of the building – poised at the very edge of Penarth Head Cliff – may have failed.
Daylight can now be seen through what used to be the cement joins holding the dense engineering bricks together and a large crack runs from the top of the North wall towards the base.
The seaward-facing wall is now gradually being ripped apart and is clearly starting to separate from the rest of the building.
A PDN source says the indications are that the cliff beneath the “viewing platform” is unable to withstand the enormous weight and is gradually subsiding beneath the foundations .
The Vale of Glamorgan Council did not seek planning permission for the unwieldy – and unwanted – structure, which is seen by some as a Labour Party “vanity project“.
No formal planning application was ever submitted to the council’s planning committee.
Local residents were not consulted and had no opportunity to express their views in advance of the build.
Not even householders living within a few feet of the site were forewarned about the council’s plans . Their objections – when made – were airily dismissed. (See http://tinyurl.com/qao5of9 ).
The council has never said whether it took advice about the fragile geology of the cliff – and wisdom of plonking 150 tonnes of reinforced concrete, steel and brick only inches away from the cliff edge .
Now that evidence of structural failure is presenting itself , one local resident has now queried whether Vale officials ever consulted experts at Cardiff University Geology Dept before proceeding with to build on what he says is “a retreating cliff”.
What was – just months ago – a straight-row of brand new iron railings, along the very edge of the cliff, has now been pulled out of shape as the cliff-edge slowly subsides under the massive 150 tonne weight of the viewing platform.
The original build was supposed to take 7 weeks from the beginning of January 2015 – but it actually took well over double that time. Construction spanned more than 17 weeks – 10 weeks longer than originally allocated.
It was originally meant to cost £40,000 to build – but costs sky-rocketed and more than doubled to over £100,000 .
When it was completed, the building appeared to have more the overtones of a Communist-style Mausoleum, a Wermacht gun-emplacement or a North Korean saluting dais than a visitor-attraction.
It produced complaints from scores of people who felt it had destroyed the ambience of Penarth Head Park. Significantly perhaps, Vale councillors – never usually shy of publicity – performed no opening ceremony.
During building, environmentalists were concerned to discover that 84 tonnes of liquid concrete had been poured into foundations dug down in the fragile cliff-top .
On top of that went the massive brickwork, the cement floor and the stone ramparts – making an estimated combined weight of 150 tonnes.
On completion it was found that many of the recesses for “information plaques” – specially built along the top of the ramparts of the viewing platform – had been misaligned . They mistakenly line-up with nearby local homes rather than across the channel towards geographical points of interest.
When it rains, Wales Coastal Path walkers say the interior cement floor of the viewing platform is prone to flooding – and the drainage system appears to be inadequate when there is heavy rain.
However, it may now be a matter for experts to advise the Vale Council on whether there is an even more fundamental issue which needs attention.