A planning application to build modern extensions to the side and rear of Penarth’s historic Victorian coastguard tower on Tower Hill has been voted-through in a unanimous show of hands at the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee .
The Tower is within the architecturally-sensitive Penarth Conservation area and is rated as a Vale of Glamorgan “County Treasure” – although it’s not a “listed” building as such.
Planning Chief Victoria Robinson told the planning committee that Vale planning officers were of the view this was ” a really good scheme that will vastly improve the existing setting of the tower”
Originally – in the 1830s – Penarth Coastguards occupied the Coastguard Cottages – on the cliff to near Northcliff Lodge from which they overlooked the entrance to Cardiff Docks and the Glamorgan Canal entrance . However in 1864 the coastguards (then part of the Royal Navy) were re-located to what is now known as Tower Hill (between Plymouth Road and Marine Parade) and needed the eponymous Tower to give them sufficient elevation to scan the coastline and hoist signals. The Tower and its associated dwellings have been a private home for many years and clumsy extensions were added on in the 1970s
What were described as “unsympathetic” side and rear extensions were built into the Tower some years ago to make it a more habitable dwelling . These later extensions are now to be demoilished, a new basement created and two new modernistic extensions will replace the older ones.
Speaking in lieu of Cllr Clive Williams (Independent Plymouth Ward ) who had originally “called-in” the application in for consideration by the full planning committee was Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines).
Cllr Roberts said the fact that the Tower was rated as a “County Treasure” demonstrated the futility of that system. “It is a beautiful building but at this present time it’s completely enveloped in a hideous 1970s/80s development totally unsympathetic with differing windows all round that completely dominate the building”.
Cllr Roberts said the new proposal was absolutely superb. “It removes all the hideous carbuncles that are attached to it . It’s a vast improvement and makes the Tower justifiable as a “Treasure” .
Cllr Roberts reminded members that Penarth Town Council’s planning committee had objected to the planning application but its chairman, [Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour St Augustines)] had later told him that the Penarth committee’s objection had “been a mistake” .