FAMILY DIFFERENCES 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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13 Responses to FAMILY DIFFERENCES OVER PLAN TO DEMOLISH “THE HIGHLANDS”

  1. Suzanna says:

    Highlands is one of the first viewed buildings as you head across the flyover towards Penarth, giving an insight into theessence of penarths architectural offerings, similarly St Augustines church headlan and even the fronts pier! How diverse are these three iconic buildings I’ve highlighted! Be such a shame to lose a single one of them.

  2. Jonny says:

    Look at it. Of course it is a County Treasure. Shame on everyone who wants to see it gone and cash in. Philistines.

    • Kevin Mahoney says:

      Unfortunately the conferring of county treasure status on a building by the Vale Council carries no legal or planning weight whatsoever during planning applications.

      I was a little surprised to find that out a few years ago.

      • Ivor Bagman says:

        If that is the case
        What right have they
        To preserve Normandie ?

      • Freddie says:

        That’s ridiculous. These days nothing seems to count. Everything can be overridden – not least when money is involved – and nothing is precious. Nobody listens. That’s all it is. Knock down, build something cr*p and make a quick buck. Enough to make you sick.

  3. Peter Church says:

    Just read the headline, but let me guess they want to demolish it and replace it with flats?

  4. Harry says:

    Let’s hope nothing happens to the state of the building while the Council deliberates ………

    • Richard says:

      What, you mean, like the roof suddenly disappearing, allowing the rain to hasten the property’s decay?

      • Tom says:

        The likes of Castle Howard and Longleat should count themselves lucky they weren’t built in the Vale or they’d have gone a long time ago – handsome symbols of wealth demolished to make way for flimsy ‘affordable housing’ built by developers who are the new barons of cash. What an ugly world.

  5. Jason Stone says:

    Bonkers. .why is this even being talked about? If this goes ahead Penarth will have had its own ‘Trump moment’.

  6. Harry says:

    Richard – absolutely correct

  7. eddie says:

    Penarth is a relatively new town and so we don’t have that much history. A great many of Penarth’s houses were built during the late Victorian period as a result of the then thriving coal industry and export of coal from Penarth and Cardiff docks. Surely it is important to preserve this architectural history. After all this is done in other parts of the world e.g. Boston in America. The house should be granted listed status.

  8. Mme Peau says:

    I am a waitress from Peau de Vache so know the situation very well. Simon Berni is a fantastique skier.

Comments are closed.