Only the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee – meeting tonight – can now rescue Penarth’s spectacular mansion Highlands from the bulldozers

Penarth Town Council’s planning committee last night considered – for the second time –  the controversial  plans to demolish Penarth’s most spectacular historic mansion  “Highlands” on Cogan Hill.

The planning committee had already approved the destruction what councillors described as the “magnificent” and “fantastic” Penarth mansion back in November last year  – so that the site could be developed for housing .

The site of Highlands and its lush lawns will be ripped up and 11 houses crammed onto the site – including a terrace of 3 “affordable homes”

Last night however amended plans came before the council  – plans which still involve totally flattening the classic arts-and-crafts style mansion, along with its coach house and outbuildings  – but which will now cram-in even more dwellings on the site of the house and its grounds than were included in the original scheme.

The new scheme would involve the construction of 8 four-bedroom detached houses on the Highlands site plus “a terrace of 3 affordable units” – making a total of 11 dwellings rather than the 9 originally proposed for the site .

This inclusion of 3 so-called “affordable homes”  in the scheme is  allegedly an amendment which – councillors heard last night – might potentially avoid the requirement for the developer to make a Section 106 mitigation payment to the Vale of Glamorgan Council and would thus be more profitable .

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell)

Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Cornerswell) made no bones about his total opposition to the scheme. He said  “To me it is still a gross overdevelopment of the site.  We are also destroying one of the finest buildings in Penarth. It is a beautiful building and I think it is a disgrace that we may be looking to knock this down” .

Cllr Wilson said “If anything, we should say to the owners that we would support them in trying to preserve this building and help it develop. He said he was also concerned about the lack of trees on the application. [ Several trees – which originally concealed the mansion – have been recently felled]. Cllr Wilson said the lack of trees and the overdevelopment were “sound grounds for  rejecting this application”.

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he totally agreed with Cllr Wilson saying “I think he’s hit the nail on the head”   . Cllr Ernest said the photographs showed that the original mansion had been built long before the surrounding area had been developed. It had been built on the highest point overlooking  Penarth Dock and Cardiff Bay and was a substantial building which could “quite easily” be repaired.     There would be a cost to restore it – but that was true of many old buildings.  He criticised the proposal to cram so many modern units in the grounds – whether they be “affordable or unaffordable”  . 

Cllr Ernest thought the coach house – due to be demolished along with the mansion – could be redeveloped . There might even be room for another one or two houses “liberally distributed within the grounds – but no more than that”. Cllr Ernest said he would be voting against the application.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) usually backs the controlling Labour group – as he did again last night.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said that the committee had approved the earlier application [for 9 houses] including the demolition of the mansion . “All they’re doing is building more intensively  than they were before – so the only objection we can have is in regard to the amount of development in the area and what was already agreed”.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said of the Highlands mansion “It is a lovely house.   It is visible now because a number of trees have been taken down”.

Cllr Roberts said “I wasn’t at the meeting where we approved this. I fully endorse that  you have to have good planning reasons to refuse  and I now worry about our consistency. We have already agreed to the demolition of that house – and I find that very sad – but it’s already been done” [i.e. approved]. “What’s happened now is that three or four affordable dwellings are coming in there and one less detached house. Frankly we have a huge shortage of housing in Penarth  – and as house prices strengthen people can’t get on the ladder. As a councillor I don’t want to say ‘build these 9 nice detached houses but you can’t  have  – and 3 affordable ones’.  That’s a different message to me” . He said he would be supporting the application.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) who is chairman of the planning committee and who had approved the original application to demolish Highlands –  said there had been concerns regarding overcrowding with the original [9-house] development. Now 11 houses were being proposed for the same site which could result in further overcrowding. He agreed it was “sad” that Highlands would be demolished but in terms of planning law the house had “no protections” – it wasn’t graded, it wasn’t listed.

Cllr Turner said that from the point of view of consistency it would still be in order for the committee to say it had some concerns about the development .

Cllr Ernest said the reason that Highlands had not been listed previously was that  when the Vale of Glamorgan “County Treasures” survey had been carried out – no one had really known the house was there. It had been  – he said – “hidden away”. He would be opposing the motion.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts – who is invariably the councillor who controls the council debates by beingthe first to table motions – moved a motion expressing the council’s “general regret” at the loss Highlands but “in that this application only moves on to provide affordable housing in Penarth we support the application” .

The vote was 5 For  and 3 Against.

Highlands on Cogan Hill: The historic mansion with its  tourelle conical round tower is the first building people see on entering Penarth. Soon it will no longer be a part of the town’s skyline

Tonight the application comes up before the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee – where – as previously reported on PDN –  the council’s planning officers have already recommended approval of the demolition of Highlands. 





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  1. NickP says:

    The politics of jealosy.

    • Lewis says:

      Spot on, NickP, small people thinking they have big power, intent on wiping out any symbols of beauty or old wealth. Pathetic.

  2. NickP says:

    Jealousy even.

  3. Simon says:

    No good trying to back track now you’ve seen public opinion, you slippery b*gg*rs.
    We’ve seen your game.
    How incredibly sad. What a disgrace, an architectural treasure lost to future generations for greedy developers to cram in housing.
    I hope people don’t forget this.
    Bunch of philistines.

    • Anne Greagsby says:

      Agree totally. Another Penarth treasure sacrificed to garden grabbing developers. If those extra 3 houses are ‘affordable’ I’ll eat my hat!

      • 92 and a social butterfly says:

        It ‘aint over till the fat lady sings and i’ve just abandoned my calorie controlled diet.

  4. KKJ says:

    Pretty pathetic arguments from Cllr Thomas and Cllr Roberts. Talk about consistency, then please explain why numerous planning applications for smaller projects on the same road that didn’t involve turning historical buildings to dust have been denied by the council in the past and yet this is ok? Total hypocrisy.

  5. LJS says:

    The councillors appear not to listen… unbelievable vote. The councillors should have been recommending a listing, not demolition… now they vote for even more houses… utter madness.
    Thank you PDN for letting us know how the councillors voted.

    • Tim79 says:

      This really is the pits. To think these people were voted in to represent us.
      They go their own way, don’t listen, then defend each other and stick together like flies on ****.
      How can they go about with no shame? It’s appalling and embarrassing.
      This would not be allowed to happen anywhere but knock-it-down Penarth.

    • LJS says:

      Shame on you, Penarth Town Councillors

  6. Dan says:

    Just look at that amazing tower, such a handsome, unique building whose like will never be seen again. I can’t believe these people are allowing it to be destroyed. Don’t think this will be forgotten. It is an example of how you treat those who voted you in.
    A low moment in the appreciation and so-called protection of the town’s heritage. Words fail me.

    • 92 and a social butterfly says:

      I invite you to consider this: If it is destroyed WE are responsible.

  7. Freddie says:

    Where the **** is the so-called civic society in this?
    Too busy sucking up to brutalist architects?
    If this was anywhere else an organisation charged with conserving the town’s heritage would be all over it, elaborating on the building’s status as ONE OF THE FINEST BUILDINGS IN PENARTH and calling for a stay of execution.
    The councillors disgust me too.

  8. gareth says:

    Forget the Architecture – imagine the impact of
    A) a load of lorries turning right on to the A4055 Barry road during construction – or traffic lights messing up the traffic even more than it is now
    B) the extra traffic from said new houses also trying to turn right.
    With cars coming from Cardiff at 50mph plus (yes I know its a 40 mph limit) sooner or later it will be carnage.
    Of course the Vale planners may produce a wonder road solution akin to the right hand turn from Barry road up to Llandough.

  9. P. Grove says:

    Just remember this when you vote in the next elections. So sad losing more of Penarths finest buildings.

  10. Peter Church says:

    Shame shame and again shame on you Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

    • Jonny says:

      I think I saw him earlier, as bold as you like in a black leather jacket, canvasing for the Labour Party. Being polite, I stopped short of telling him what I thought – I’ll make my feelings known in the polling booth.

  11. The situation at Cogan roundabout and the lights at Barons Court junction/s is already at critical now every morning for an hour or more and the same every teatime rush hour . Do they think whilst the demolition of this house and the removal of debris the situation at Cogan etc will be better or worse, and do they think the builders lorries and materials going back and forth will improve the traffic problem or make it worse ? I suggest the latter. What is wrong with these people the so called planners etc do they suffer from short sighted condition or lack of imagination. Talk about putting the cart before the horse , for goodness sake , think before acting . This house would be better left where it is and repaired as its the only way to avoid traffic turmoil , why don’t these people think before opening their mouths or rushing blindly into things . Most people agree that this house is attractive looking and somewhat unique to the area, so why the rush to pull it down . It shows you don’t have to wear a Tshirt , trainers , baseball hat etc etc to be a vandal , shirt and tie and a suit work just as well.

  12. Big Davey says:

    Yes remember when you vote.

    This labour council want turn Penarth into a social housing ghetto and lay waste to any architectural heritage.

    • Fraser says:

      It seems to me this is only the warm-up.
      Look at how the pace is gathering – from the ugly 40pc social housing wings on Bridgeman Road to laying waste to St Paul’s and allowing The Highlands to be destroyed.
      Beautiful, unique buildings which should be cherished for future generations to enjoy.
      They wouldn’t get away with it anywhere else, where the architecture of the past is respected and valued.
      What has the Vale said about the pier fiasco? Nothing. I bet they wouldn’t mind getting that down.
      Look at the horrible-looking ‘developments’ planned for the Cogan roundabout and I expect we’ll see the Northcliffe Legoland back with a vengeance on appeal.
      Every space jammed with basic builds, cramming people in, filling the roads with cars.
      In quite a short space of time, the town has gone from being a Victorian gem (albeit faded) to a pick ‘n’ mix of Milton Keynes meets Blackwood.

  13. Pauline Godfrey says:

    I spent my early years living at the Highlands Camp Site and went past this amazing house every day. I despair of this area’s so called planning department for allowing this architectural treasure to be demolished to make way for modern housing which could well be built within the grounds thereby leaving this lovely landmark intact.

  14. Frank Evans says:

    Labour do not have any interest in Penarth other than extracting money from us. Remember this when you vote good people.

    • 92 and a social butterfly says:

      Think you’re right, they seem to be selling off the family silver

  15. Neighbour says:

    I’m afraid the Vale planning committee voted in favour of the planning application tonight. 9 for, 7 against and 3 abstentions. It’s a very sad day.

  16. DRT Andrews says:

    The comments here display a complete lack of understanding of what is happening. The councils, councillors and any political parties are destroying nothing. The proposal to demolish the house has been made by a private individual who owns it and, although councillors may have a personal view of the merits or demerits of the application, it will be decided in accordance with national planning guidelines. In the event of it being refused, the applicant will have the right of appeal. I suppose the house could be bought and renovated by the local council, or any other public body, but I guess this would simply generate another wave of protest about use of “taxpayers money”. I don’t read any suggestions about how the preservation of the house and its renovation could be facilitated and funded.

    • Peter Church says:

      So what you mean is Vote Labour anyway!
      Thanks Party Monkey.

    • Freddie says:

      I think it is you who appears to display a complete lack of understanding of what is happening. These councillors have given their approval to the destruction of a house lauded as one of the finest buildings in Penarth.
      If such a thing was not approved, the house could not be destroyed.
      What part of that is difficult to understand?
      I understand the house was put up for sale and attracted no interest yet I can find no evidence of it being marketed.
      It seems that the sale of the house to someone prepared to renovate it does not present the highest monetary value to the ‘private individual’ you mention.
      You speak of national planning guidelines as though they support the destruction of a wonderful building such as this. There are other guidelines too. That’s why listed status and the likes of Conservation Officers exist – to stop wanton annihilation by greedy developers.
      What we appear to have here are elected representatives ignoring the professional opinion of heritage experts. A unique, historical building will be destroyed.

      • DRT Andrews says:

        So, who is going to pay for the house, it’s renovation and future upkeep?

      • Tim says:

        The person who buys the 8888er, who do you think?
        You would find someone to buy that and renovate it and still be well quids in.
        We’re not daft. Razed to the ground, it’s obviously “worth much more” – if you count “worth” in monetary terms, that is.
        Where can you get such a historic, handsome house that size with that land these days?
        If the property had been offered for sale as is, and properly marketed, of course it would have sold to the right buyer instead of being demolished as though we live in a grasping, ignorant world where all that counts is money.
        What a handsome, unique building – acknowledged as so by heritage authorities – and now it will be gone.

      • Monty says:

        And my guess is that, despite your indignation, you would do exactly the same if you were in the house owner’s shoes.

      • Jonny says:

        I see you’ve previously picked people up on ill-informed assumptions, Monty, and I wonder if your ‘guess’ in this instance would be correct.
        I find people often say much about their own motivations, when attempting laconic put-downs, as opposed to those of their targets.

  17. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    I thought Wales led the way on prudent sustainable planet friendly development. Surely the stone and the wood and glass and the tiles of the old house are materials that should be conserved rather than making and using up new stuff to build new. And where does destroying the trees fit into the eco policies. And if they need road/traffic improvements they should budget for them not take payments off developers to top up the kitty, thats all a bit dubious, empty promises to placate us.
    I vote that the house stays and is not added to the list of lost Penarth mansions remembered in sepia photographs and their name on a road sign. I would like to see some self build properties on the land, they would be far more social community building homes than their ‘social housing’. Perhaps it is developers that should be called to account.

  18. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    In my youth affordable housing was a room, judging by the windows Highlands seems to have many rooms.

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