Attempts have been made to "soften" the gaunt and dominant mass of the "viewing platform" with trees and shrubs

After a volume of complaints from Penarth residents, the Labour-run  Vale of Glamorgan Council attempted to “soften” the gaunt grey mass of the Penarth Head Viewing Platform with saplings and shrubs  – but now the 19-month-old structure appears to be  tearing itself apart.

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 be seen through a huge crack running from the top of the wall to the base

Daylight can be seen through a huge crack running from the top of the wall towards  the base – indicating that the integrity of the structure has 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 zig-zag crack continues down the courses of bricks - indicating subsidence beneath the building

A zig-zag crack continues down the courses of bricks – indicating subsidence beneath 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 crack extends diagonally down to the floor of the viewing platform

Viewed from within, the crack extends diagonally down to the floor of the viewing platform

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 living just feet away from the site were not consulted about the erection of the viewing platform - and no planning committee scrutiny was undertaken

Local residents living just feet away from the site were not consulted about the erection of the viewing platform – and no planning committee scrutiny was undertaken

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 ).

Cracks are also opening up in the footings around the base  of the 8 foot high wall

Cracks are also opening up in the footings around the base of the 8 foot high wall

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”.

A few months ago these railings were vertical - now they're not

A few months ago these railings were vertical – now they’re not. At one point the huge heavy 8 foot high walls are just 2 feet from the cliff edge 

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.

17 months old - and already coming apart. The green grass of Penarth Head Park can be seen through the crack.

19 months old – and already coming apart. The green grass of Penarth Head Park can be seen through the gap as the crack in the wall progressively opens up.

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 .

Visitors on the "viewing platform" in October 2015 . How safe they now are now are is a matter of conjecture. There's a 200ft drop below them

Visitors on the “viewing platform” in October 2015 before the wall started cracking. How safe they are now is a matter of conjecture. There’s a 200ft drop below them

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.

The deep footings or foundations of the massive  structure before 84 tonnes of concrete were poured in

In January 2015  deep foundations were dug down into the fragile cliff  and steel reinforcement bars were installed before 84 tonnes of liquid concrete was poured in. Then came the brickwork

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.

The alignment of the plaque recesses in the viewing platform invite visitors to gaze into the living rooms of nearby apartments

The misaligned recesses are supposed to hold information plaques identifying points of interest on the Somerset Coast  – however they were installed pointing inland at the living rooms of nearby homes

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.

Wales Coast Path walkers point to the puddles where water lies trapped in the mosaic "shell".

Wales Coast Path walkers point to the puddles where rainwater lies trapped in a mosaic-covered curved concrete seat –  meant to represent a “shell” symbol

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.



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  1. Christopher David says:

    Hopefully a metaphor for the VOG council.

  2. Modom says:

    There is but one remedy…remove it, and quickly.
    Shame on the council for imposing such a monstrosity on us, now it threatens the very cliffs
    on which it stands.
    Its space would be a welcome addition to the park

  3. Mark Foster says:

    It is absolutely clear that this is a NATO helicopter landing pad and defensive gun emplacement against Vladimir Putin’s Russian navy sailing up the Bristol Channel to attack Cardiff and Bristol. The problem is that President Trump is going to join forces with Vladimir Putin to disband NATO and the European Union and defeat ISIS and Israel to reverse the Balfour Declaration and solve the Middle East problem.

  4. It’s falling into the sea …

  5. Ethel says:

    Please , please take this monstrosity down .

  6. Jillabong says:

    Numpties! Another huge waste of money, and a danger to the public. Take it away and replace it with sheltered seating as was there before.

  7. Kevin Mahoney says:

    To be fair to the Vale council, who could have predicted that dumping a 150 tonne monstrosity on an unstable clifftop would lead to cracking of the structure in such a short time?

  8. Paul says:

    Its like a glorified pill box, of no use to man or beast. Still the Vale’s gotta find something to spend their surplus money on…

  9. sjleworthy says:

    simple solution – pump another couple of 100K into the issue. Problem solved 🙂

  10. Brian says:

    Oh dear oh dear! I hope it crumbles away and falls off the cliffs (when nobody is on it, of course) so that we might get that nice, muddy, incredibly useful patch of grass back; how I loathe only having the other 95% of muddy grass which remains in that park

  11. Frank Bird says:

    Over 100 tons added to the top of acknowledged unstable cliffs.
    It’s quite obviously moving and was ill conceived – please report on who loses their job?

  12. sjleworthy says:

    and of course, does any official have any clue if, i mean when, this structure will be unsafe for human consumption?

  13. Hazel Clarke says:

    I feel furious about this huge waste of our hard earning cash. No doubt more money will be spent on feasibility studies on its removal. I rather hope that it just collapses on the heads of the vale officials who sanctioned this, when they carry out further surveys.

  14. Christopher David says:

    Remember, this is an authority employing managers, taking £100k + in “salaries” that can’t work out a meals on wheels budget!

  15. Ann Other says:

    Well, we all seem to want it to dilapidate itself. It is for sure a symbol of the Vale Council. The perfect self-destructing folly. If only it hadn’t been built with my, and our, money. We now certainly know who not to vote for next time.

  16. Andrew Worsley says:

    I commented on this monstrosity months ago and I said at the time the weight of this thing would eventually start to sink due to its weight, the only difference is I did not expect it to happen so soon . So now it is a danger to the public and the people living in the vicinity , do we imagine that if this thing causes both itself and the cliff face to fall to the sea below that the homes closest to it will not be put in danger at the same time? . The volume of rock and earth taken away by the collapsing structure as it falls is unknown , thus the people at the top of the cliff are in danger as much as any who may be below the cliff. This structure needs urgent action taken now not when it gets worse. It mat have escaped the attention of those cowboys known as the VOG ? but we are entering Winter now when we can expect , snow , rain, frosts etc which all will happen around this already present danger. And whoever proposed this stupid idea wants sacking , not only for the stupid planning but for the wasted money that could have been spent elsewhere. I can say to the VOG if the worst case scenario happens regarding this someone or the VOG itself will be investigated for stupidity , lack of public consultation etc etc . Even I and others with no building experience could foresee the lunacy of this structure , 2 feet at one point to the cliff edge !!!! and this thing weighs 150 tons , some people on this Council must be out of their mind??

    • Frank Bird says:

      Andrew, completely with you on this as I posted more or less the same content but not as voluminous as your post. Someone needs to be sacked, and the Council taken to task for allowing such an obviously idiotic construction !

  17. Ivor Bagman says:

    I always said there was
    A wicked craic
    In Penarth !

  18. Robert Jones says:

    Another cracking story from PDN.

  19. Davies says:

    At the public meeting in the Puer Pavilion , about building a walkway around from the barrage to Penarth I pointed out the dangers of this site falling in to the sea and repeated what a builder on site had said that it was over 80,000 tons of work . I was laughed at by the panel, told I didn’t know what I was talking about and ” reassured” that it was only 60000tons, and that there was no danger at all. NB these are the people who want to build a safe walkway from the barrage to Penarth. Does anyone trust them now?

  20. Mgg says:

    Dismantle and send the bricks to Mexico

  21. Simon Evans says:

    Also sit at Penarth Head facing Penarth Pier then look down at the wall at the bottom of steep slope.
    If you look close you will see on far left side of wall right at Cliff Edge the wall has cracked All the way down.
    Over the last couple of years I have watched gap in wall increase significantly.
    Soon the corner of Penarth Head will fall into the sea unless Urgent action is taken !.

  22. Martin Coffee says:

    If the structure is really falling into the sea then it will probably be too dangerous to demolish it due to the vibration from the demolition equipment rapidly accelerating the process. I fear that it will have to be fenced off and left to its own devices.

    • The Tax payer says:

      Very good point Martin and agree with what you are saying. But will the VofG think of this !!

  23. snoggerdog says:

    being as i walk around the headland regularly,i could be wearing this quite soon. (no please dont say ,”suits you sir”.

  24. Peter Church says:

    Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) has welcomed the project saying “These improvements will ensure that the park becomes a special destination for users of the Wales Coast Path offering unrivalled views in a unique cliff top setting.” 🙂

    This special destination has been now twinned with Wellington in New Zealand, to show Penarth’s special bond* between our the cracked monument and the islands ongoing earthquakes. You can stand on the monument and as you look out to sea, wonder will the £100k white elephant collapse while you are on it.

    *Note the “special bond” does not extend to the concrete.

  25. Christopher David says:

    Some cracking comments here 😉 . Really good point re the added damage destruction could cause. Where are the usual “riding to the defence” creepy sycophants?

    • Peter Church says:

      “Where are the usual “riding to the defence” creepy sycophants?”
      Funny you should mention that, Lindsay is doing a evening class “The Vale’s guide to holding a brewery event, part 2” at Barry College, so might not be able to comment until later.

      • Lindsay says:

        Christopher/Peter and how many other guises you have, I’m just keeping out of the uninformed rabble rousing. Like everyone else here I have no idea about the safety or otherwise of the structure and, for that reason, speculation is pointless.

      • Frank Evans says:

        Not knowing anything about the subject has never stopped you before!!!
        Only joking we all like your partisan comments 😅

      • Lindsay says:

        Thank you for the appreciation, Frank. It’s something to which I’m unaccustomed on here. This is a forum for those with little knowledge of the subject, so I’m not bucking the trend in this instance.

      • Peter Church says:

        Lindsay, nothing to do with Mr David I can assure you, but you do get annoyed everytime someone mentions Cllr Lis Burnett, hang on a minute, could you????

      • Lindsay says:


  26. Andrew Worsley says:

    I totally agree Simon Evans , the time for action is now, lives are at risk and people are being put in danger , the home called Osbornes is also in danger as the volume of rock and dirt wrenched away once the structure begins to collapse is unknown , so are other buildings close by. Its total lunacy to have built this structure in the position it is entirely due to its weight , total madness and if something nasty does occur I hope the Police become involved with those responsible (not the builders but those who gave the plan the go ahead without public concern, in short persons who should not be in the position they are in or should be removed post haste before they get another crackpot idea. Just think for a moment if the walkway around the cliff bottom had gone ahead or be under construction now , and further imagine if this walkway (another flight of fancy) had been in use and the viewing platform had become unstable (as it has ) can you imagine the walkway thronged with Summer visitors and the cliff face gives way??????????? does not bare thinking about but could have happened and yet some dunderheads thought (and still think ) a cliff bottom walk is a sensible idea. Regarding the present situation I do hope the VOG is treating this matter with utmost concern and urgency ?? as the (extreme) folly they have foisted on the public will not give them a text or a phone call when it decides to take itself or the cliff face away and God knows what else. The structure is on the move now and requires rapid attention , just glad I don’t live close to it , and sorry for those who do.

  27. bizzilizzi says:

    Can we know if and when the “Planning Committee” will come and look at the current situation (if they feel safe to do so in case the added weight causes the cliff to collapse) so that we can express our feelings about this fiasco. The least they could do is to have public meeting where all members of the committee are present.

  28. Tom says:

    I find this shocking and would like confirmation on whether the Vale of Glamorgan council sought advice on depositing150 tonnes of reinforced concrete in an area known for its fragile geology at a cost of more than £100,000. Is there no answerability on this? Will anyone be called to account? We hear nothing.

  29. Mark Foster says:

    The “walkway” around the base of Penarth Head is in fact part of the NATO construction to defend the approach to Cardiff against Vladimir Putin’s Russian Navy, along with the helicopter landing pad and gun emplacement at the top of the cliff. Why would they build the walkway wide enough and solid enough to take the 70 ton weight of the NATO main Challenger battle tank and why isn’t it going to be constructed on stilts? Do they expect you to climb the cliff to get to the viewing platform?

    Donald Trump and Nigel Farage are going to drain the swamp of these crocodiles, with your help.

  30. Andrew Worsley says:

    As has been mentioned even removing the viewing platform is going to be a problem in itself , obviously extra weight by use of heavy machinery must be avoided unless a good distance away, vibration such as used in drills or hammers need to be kept to a minimum and people involved in any dismantling also need to be aware of their personal safety whilst in the vicinity of the edifice. Just one small detail to close , have the public been warned of this danger , I mean in the immediate area??? and has the platform been closed to public use yet………………Whats the odds on the answer being no to both my queries ?????

  31. Ian Perry says:

    Many of the officers and elected councillors got fed up of hearing from “experts”, or anyone who raises a valid point based on research and evidence, long ago.

    Many council employees have been cut back on, and skills have not been replaced. Some of those officers remaining believe that they have all of the skills and knowledge required to do most tasks… They don’t. Some councillors appear to believe that their opinions must be supported by facts. They often are not.

    It’s a sorry state of affairs.

    Unstable ground close to a cliff top… Perhaps build a light timber structure?

  32. Tim Hughes says:

    The proposed Headlands Link would, of course, be a long way away from the cliff at this point and , as said said at the public meeting, the danger to walkers would not be, as suggested in these comments, from a large scale cliff failure but from individual boulders falling from near the top and then bouncing of the exposed rock bed and thus being able to reach the link.

  33. Frank Evans says:

    Wow labour vale do like wasting our money. If they built a green power furnace to heat the council offices they would fuel it with £50 notes.

  34. Tim Hughes says:

    Masonry walls crack. Bricks are fired at high temperatures and spend their lives swelling. Mortar and concrete starts their lives wet and spend their lives shrinking as hydration continues. Cracking inevitably occurs. To avoid the type of cracking seen in this structure on long walls movement joints should be included in the wall and these should follow through into the foundations. A movement joint is visible on the right of the 2nd photo in the article but is does appear to be very narrow and it almost looks as if a disc cut has been put through the brickwork of the wall as an afterthought. It is difficult to see how a crack like this could cross a properly constructed movement joint.

    • James says:

      I think you’ll find ‘zigzag’ cracks of the kind shown in images 2,3 and 4 of this article are usually associated with subsidence. Be assured – those have not been ‘disc cut’.

    • Frank Evans says:

      Tim Hughes. What you say is nonsense. Subsidence Plain and simple. Either poor foundations or the ground is inertly unstable.

    • Tim Hughes says:

      Many of Penarth’s old houses have undergone significant structural movement since they were constructed. The foundations were often too shallow and there is a significant depth of soft clay over much of old Penarth. The weight of the structures is initially carried in part by the water trapped in the pores of the clay. Over time the water pressure dissipates and the weight transfers to the clay particles which then deform and the soil consolidates. The initial movement can be quite rapid but this settles down after a time and then subsequently involves small movements that follow the seasons, unless there is a particularly dry or wet season. Fortunately many old houses were built using lime based mortar, lime mortar is much softer than cement based mortar and any structural movement is accommodated by numerous small cracks within the mortar joint. These cracks can then fill in overtime as the mortar continues to carbonate (so called autogenous healing), so you can end up with house that can appears distorted but without large cracks. This is one of the reasons you should not re-point old houses with cement based mortars. So for new masonry structures the proper construction of movement joints is particularly important so that any movement however caused is concentrated in the joints.

  35. Penileaks says:

    ‘Like everyone else here I have no idea about the safety or otherwise of the structure and, for that reason, speculation is pointless.’
    Another typically head-in-the-sand comment from a VoG defender of anything and everything !
    One does not need to be any sort of expert in a matter such as this. Anyone with a modicum of sense does not load a known unstable area with a great weight of anything. No one wouldn’t do it in their garden for instance and so why would anyone do it on the edge of a known to be unstable, 200′ cliff face ?
    If the worst was to happen and the viewing platform did collapse, taking it and someone down with it, or it all landed on someone, I have no doubt that there would then be questions asked about how such a weighty structure was placed on top of the cliff when it has a history of being unstable in the area. The fact that the VoG apparently did no proper survey (i would assume that they would not have gone against the advice of engineers if they had have done, who surely would have warned them off), would leave them at least partially liable, if not totally so, for any damage or loss of life caused by their lack of duty of care in planning a safe project.
    The next course of action should be that the VoG close the area around the platform, both in the park and below on the beach, employ an outside Consulting Engineering company to carry out an urgent survey as to the structural safety of the area (at great cost to the VoG and us of course) and then act on their advice. As Consulting Engineers, they may come up with some solution to the support for this structure, but I doubt it, as there is nothing to support it off other than what it is constructed on at the moment and as they would then take responsibility for the contents of their report, i’m pretty certain that the conclusion would be to remove it. Remember though, the damage to the top of the cliff might already be done and this would then lead to the whole area being declared unsafe. A VoG folly indeed !
    One positive note though. If the whole structure does end up at the bottom of the cliff, possibly the information plaque recesses may then be pointing in the correct directions, Anyone got any experience of aiming collapsing viewing platforms ? Liz ?

  36. Penileaks says:

    Having re-read all of the above, I realise how one sided the comments are against the VoG. Only one small voice speaking up in mild (very mild), defence of the viewing platform on the head and so I thought that I would try and redress the balance and forward some answers and explanations on behalf of the VoG and those VoG supporters who cannot quite bring themselves (or maybe they are busy), to comment in defence of this much maligned platform.
    The comment by Andrew Worsley that this platform was constructed ‘…2′ from the cliff edge’, is totally incorrect. It might be 2′ now, but when we built it, the distance from the edge was 4′, more than double what you say. Someone has removed the missing 2′ illegally, but as the CCTV cameras are not working in the town (Oops, I shouldn’t have admitted to that !), and the Police are not sure where they are, if anywhere, no one knows where this missing 2′ went, but rest assured, we at the VoG take this matter very seriously and have full time managers trying to trace it on Ebay and Gumtree.
    The many comments regarding the cracks that have appeared in the gun emplacement….er, I mean viewing platform, are unfair. They are only little ones. We at the Vale cannot understand why there is so much discussion about them as when they mature, all those people that complained that small children and those in wheelchairs could not see over the parapet, will have easy viewings through them and they have always been part of the design. As I have already said, like a fine wine (not that we drink that in the VoG, only the best Champagne for us), these cracks have to mature to be fully appreciated, please let them do so.
    The comment under one of the photographs in the article showing the build up of rainwater in the centre section, appears to be complaining about the fact that it does not drain off. This again was part of the design and is an environmentally friendly feature. The water is intended as a cliff top bathing area for birds and was included as part of the VoG’s efforts to adhere to EU Birds Directive that enshrines in law the right of every one of our feathered friends to have bathroom facilities provided in new constructions.
    It has also come to our attention, that some people have been suggesting that one of our trusted officers will visit the platform to patch the maturing viewing cracks (see explanation above), with Post-it notes. This is totally untrue as from past experience, our council leaders department know that these do not work as they should and that they just upset people unnecessarily.
    I then move to the comment by Frank Evans regarding a possible power furnace at our offices in Barry. It is totally untrue that if we built a green power furnace at our offices, we would fuel it with £50 notes. The plan that we have would only use £5 and £10 notes, as there are more of those in a bundle and the combustion and heat generating rate of the new plastic fivers is excellent.
    So, in conclusion, I hope that the above makes the VoG case on the subject clearer to the electorate and I hope that we at the VoG council can look forward to strong support from the public in our future efforts to improve Barry……oh, and Penarth.

  37. AK says:

    Haha Penileaks.

    Some years ago the promenade was closed off as a risk to pedestrians because it was being undermined by the sea – but the 50 ton cement mixers still managed to park on top to pump redymix into the void, so I’m sure a bloke with a sledgehammer won’t bring the cliff down just yet.

    We used to have a world reknowned firm of Consulting Engineers right here in Penarth, by the station, I’m sure an equally good firm could be sought to give their expert opinion.

    Who built it anyway ? Bodgitt and Scarper, or the Council building team ?

    • Penileaks says:

      Same team from the West Country pub that started (and finished it seems), the work on that house in Clinton Road possibly.
      To be fair to the viewing platform builders, they just followed the instructions of the VoG and that is where the fault lies, not with them.

  38. jeffrey dyer says:

    Now the structure has been sealed off and a fence put down the entire side of the park.
    Heads should roll for this.

  39. Chris David says:

    So it appears the VOG share the view the structure is dangerous. So much for the usual defenders posturing. Heads won’t roll, they wont even hang in embarrassment.

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