The Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee – voted 9 to 7 to demolish Penarth’s spectacular and historic mansion Highlands

In the wake of this week’s vote in Penarth Town Council to permit the demolition of the classic arts-and-crafts-style mansion “Highlands” at Cogan Hill, last night the Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council sealed the fate of the “magnificent” and “spectacular” mansion.

As usual – the councillors tied themselves up in procedural knots. They prioritised  impermeable planning regulations and implacable “officers’ recommendations”  rather than concentrating on the main issue: – exactly what kind of Penarth do they intend hand-on to future generations?

Vale Council planning boss Victoria Robinson told the councillors – in effect – they didn’t have any choice.

Planning chief Victoria Robinson said Highlands was “a substantial Victorian property” and “quite a prominent building” that could be seen “from quite significant distances” approaching Penarth from Cardiff and Cardiff Bay .

The proposal before the Vale planning committee was to demolish Highlands and build 11 new dwellings on the site – 8 of which would be detached houses and 3 of which would be a terrace of “affordable housing” – 2 of which would be regarded in perpetuity as “social housing” .

Ms Robinson said objections to the scheme had been received from local residents, from the Victorian Society and the Ancient Monuments Society. She said the building was not “listed” and not designated as one of the Vale of Glamorgan’s “County Treasures” [PDN Note:It has already been established that this omission was because at the time of compilation of the County Treasures – the building was masked by trees and not known about]. 

Ms Robinson said that the Vale Council’s own conservation officer had suggested that  Highlands potentially merited inclusion on the County Treasure list but there was little point in listing it now –  and the building had no statutory protection. She said the council had “no powers to resist the demolition of the existing house”.

Previous planning applications for developments on Old Barry Road – the cul-de-sac ion which Highlands stands have come unstuck because of objections from the Vale Highways engineers – but this time – even though there’ll be several more cars emerging onto the A 4055 –  they’ve not objected and are to improve the Old Barry Road junction at the developer’s expense. The Vale highways officers – Ms Robinson said – “do not consider there is highway safety issue”.

A so-called “Section 106” contribution – in this case a cash sum of £7,650 –  will be paid by the developer to the Vale Council towards “the existing play facilities at Cogan Leisure Centre”.

Next door neighbours Mr and Mrs Honeybone appeared before the committee to make their objections in person. Mrs Honeybone was comforted by her husband as she made an emotional appeal for peace and quiet. The Labour-run council told them “acute personal circumstances” for a “particularly sensitive end-user” could not be taken into consideration

Two local residents – Mr and Mrs Honeybone – who live with their autistic son next door to the Highlands appeared in person at the planning committee to make an impassioned plea for the peace and quiet of the area not to be disrupted. Mrs Honeybone – comforted by her husband – was in tears for part of her emotional address.

Vale Planning Officer Victoria Robinson told the Honeybones  It would not be reasonable for us to refuse an otherwise-acceptable development on the issue of noise and disturbance for a particularly sensitive end-user. We should not be taking into account the acute personal circumstances of the occupier of the neighbouring property. “

For Vale ‘cabinet’ member Peter King (Labour Cornerswell) the decision was a difficult dilemma – He said he would vote against the application

Cllr Peter King (Labour Cornerswell)  said he was concerned at the “cumulative effect” . Highlands – he said –  was “certainly a very magnificent an impressive building. I think it does deserve some greater consideration,  it is visible from some distance and from both sides . On the objections received, he said that “regardless of the officers’ comments we still need to weigh those up”  . He said he would be voting against the proposal.

Cllr John Drysdale (Labour) who had visited the site that morning  and did not think Highlands was “wonderful“, said of the traffic on the A4055 “it’s like a chariot race when the lights change” but he thought emerging onto the main road was “do-able”. On the overall scheme Cllr Drysdale saidWe have no choice really but to approve” .

Val Hartrey (Plaid Cymru) wasn’t so sure.  She said there could be up to 30 additional cars now emerging every morning onto the A4055 . “ It is a speed track “-  her daughter had been hit by another car at the same spot.   She said she was “appalled at the application to demolish Highlands . She had lived locally for 45 years and described Highlands as a prominent building and could not see “why it could not be listed at this late date”  .

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) tried to explore a late idea for reprieving Highlands – but his last minute suggestion was  dismissed.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustine’s) accepted that the council had “no right to protect Highlands” – but “that doesn’t stop us  being responsible for the heritage of the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan and we have our responsibility to society“.  He asked whether a reduction in the number of new houses on the site could make the retention of the old house viable. He didn’t get an answer until much later in the proceedings when he was told that it was not the proposal before the committee .

Cllr Jeff James (Conservative Rhoose)

It was Cllr Jeff James (Conservative Rhoose)  who ripped into the Vale Council most effectively for its abject failure – by omission and commission – to protect the heritage of Penarth.

Cllr James said said “It’s a sad day when the planning committee feels it can do nothing else but go along with an application to demolish the property.”

He said it was also sad that the council had “not noticed” the Highlands much earlier.  “It’s a prominent property – there are many in the Penarth area – and slowly they’re going. A drip-drip-drip of significant properties   in the Penarth area –  being demolished or changed in such a way as to be unrecognisable”

Cllr James said “What we ought to do as a planning committee is to review some of these significant buildings in the Vale before they’re all gone.” The new houses being put in their place had “no merit compared with the house that’s going to be demolished” . He would be voting against the application .

Deputy Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) voted in favour of the demolition of Highlands

Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) – who was to vote in favour of demolishing Highlands – said  Penarth had “a lot of houses which have been allowed to go to rack and ruin in order to push the planning agenda”  .  If the application was refused – and went to appeal – and the council lost the appeal  she said it was “arguably putting the Section 106 contribution at risk ”  [ i.e the £7,650 cash and the 3 “affordable” homes] .

Cllr Burnett dismissed the arguments on traffic, – saying said she too lives on a busy road and “I quite often sit in my drive  for 5 minutes trying to get out through the traffic. It’s one of the pressures of modern life”.

Labour Councillors – including Vale Deputy Leader Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) vote in favour of demolishing the classic Penarth mansion Highlands.

In the vote that followed Cllr Burnett was one of 9 Labour councillors who voted – en bloc- FOR of the demolition of Highlands and the housing development.   There were 7 votes AGAINST  and 3  ABSTENTIONS .

Afterwards one insider said that if the councillors who had abstained had possessed the bottle to vote against the application – and against Labour –  it would have been defeated.

Highlands – with its tourelle conical round tower – will soon be removed from the skyline of Penarth

It seems the  “dripping tap” – referred to by Cllr Jeff James – which is slowly destroying Penarth’s heritage –  has yet to be turned off.








About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
This entry was posted in Penarth Daily News. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. James says:

    This is pitiful. To see this lovely old house – lauded by authorities – gone forever and in its place a crowd of houses that will bring the Vale more council tax.
    What an ugly town we live in.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Penarth Pier and the Pavilion were also allowed to go to “rack and ruin” by the Local Authority before Mrs. Knight and her Community Volunteers had to resort to doing the job for themselves.

      Within the space of four years the Community are having to do the job all over again through no fault of their own.

      These tragic situations are almost always born out of wanton carelessness originally and must serve as a warning as to why Penarth Pier and Pavilion’s future is worryingly unsafe under the status quo and should be taken out of the hands of the Vale of Glamorgan completely.

      Ownership should be entrusted to the Welsh Government and their Agency Cadw who have ultimate responsibility.under the Historic Environment Wales Act 2016.
      This could be achieved quite easily and Penarth’s confidence restored in the future of the Pier Pavillion
      Here’s how——-
      Welsh Government purchases the Pavilion for £-1- nil pence from the Vale.
      (after all it purchased Cardiff International Airport for £52 million)

      The Debts and Liability Charge on the Building to the Heritage Lottery Fund and sundry alleged, considerable outstanding debtors be cleared or restructured

      Cadw takeover responsibility for the fabric of the Building.

      A new Board of Trustees appointed consisting of mainly Penarth Community. representatives

  2. Sarah says:

    “Ms Robinson said that the Vale Council’s own conservation officer had suggested that Highlands potentially merited inclusion on the County Treasure list but there was little point in listing it now – and the building had no statutory protection. She said the council had “no powers to resist the demolition of the existing house”.
    Why’s that then? Why is there little point in listing it now? Why couldn’t it be saved?

  3. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    A carer spoke out for the wellbeing of their family and asked for consideration for their autistic son. Carer, autism, wellbeing? Is the council that voted for demolition and development on this site representative of Wales or are they on another planet entirely!

  4. Gareth87 says:

    “Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) – who was to vote in favour of demolishing Highlands – said Penarth had “a lot of houses which have been allowed to go to rack and ruin in order to push the planning agenda” . If the application was refused – and went to appeal – and the council lost the appeal she said it was “arguably putting the Section 106 contribution at risk ” [ i.e the £7,650 cash and the 3 “affordable” homes] .”
    Is that all she can think about? Her seven grand and three “affordable” homes?
    It just goes to show you have to watch who you vote into power.

  5. Jonathan Harries says:

    It’s all about the money.
    The Vale will get 8 new lots of council tax.
    Plus you’ve got Lis Burnett’s manic drive to thread social housing through the fabric of the town.
    This place is going downhill fast. Significant architectural treasures being demolished, lovely old buildings being allowed flashy, crass extensions, and cheap as chips social housing going up in place of a historic church.
    What will left for the future when our kids grow up to lives of simply a space to exist? That’s what it’ll be – a box as a home and Facebook as our friend. No beauty or heritage left.
    This town has gone to the dogs. Badly managed and a council grabbing for money.
    Haven’t people noticed yet?

  6. Neighbour says:

    Any advice from anyone on possible next steps to try and save it please ?

  7. Gwilym Davies says:

    Penarth and Vale keystone cops council covering themselves in glory yet again.

  8. Grey local says:

    Cllr Barnett continues her path of destruction of Penarth. Roll on the elections!!

    • Phil says:

      I’ve never wanted to join in the anti-Lis post-it note campaign but Lis Burnett really needs to go. In my opinion she should be held responsible for taking Penarth right down.

    • CelticMan says:

      Agreed – get rid.

  9. Michael says:

    I used to leaf through the Cardiff Yesterday books and lament the demolition of so many wonderful buildings in the city, from the Victorian era right through to the 1930s, often replaced by ghastly monstrosities which, ironically, are now being pulled down after barely half a century. And here we are today, about to lose a magnificent mansion designed by the great John Coates Carter, the clueless Vale CC giving the green light to its destruction and to be replaced by a load of ‘flatpack’ modern houses. We have learned absolutely nothing.

  10. Sadie says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous knocking a beautiful building down which is in keeping with the other houses in the area and building flats in its place. Tgere is a handful of houses in that area at present …maybe it’s time someone listened to the residents in the very localised area and took their opinions on board.

  11. Jeff says:

    “Cllr Burnett dismissed the arguments on traffic saying said she too lives on a busy road and “I quite often sit in my drive for 5 minutes trying to get out through the traffic. It’s one of the pressures of modern life”.”
    In for a penny, is it? Admit a problem and add to it?
    What a stupid thing to say.

  12. These people have indulged in power for too long. They lose perspective and sight of the probable reasons why they went into local government in the first place. They become complacent, lack vision of how they would like their environment to be and be developed, and above all they lack imagination. They need to be booted out, forever. Unfortunately, there are not enough people interested in local government. So when it comes to local elections a small percentage participate and the reasons for the apathy are apparent for all to see. After all, there appears to be little anyone can do when faced, for example, with the wanton destruction and ignorance of decisions such as this. These levels of governance are incompetent. It is surely time for the entire structure to be examined, taken apart and reinvented in a way that enables rather than disables a progressive, caring and respected community.

  13. Chris69 says:

    How long does the Paget Rooms have left? Any unusual and historic building won’t be around for long, surely, with the Vale how it is. The Turner House Gallery must be breathing its last. Thank the good Lord above us for the Friends of St Augustine’s or that church would be in a skip if the Vale had its way. Think of that prime site up on the hill – ten exec-oo-tive plots and a raft of social housing “in perpetuity”.

  14. Kate says:

    Yet another nail in the coffin of Penarth as a heritage town. This Council seems determined to tear down anything with any history – St Paul’s, Highlands….what next? The only hope of protecting Penarth’s future is to challenge those who’ll soon come knocking doors asking for our votes, to see what they plan to do about it. Let’s use May’s local election vote wisely.

  15. Sarah says:

    I feel so down about the town’s heritage being destroyed like this. The loss of this handsome house is the last straw for me. It seems so depressing how Penarth has become. The councils don’t care at all about keeping lovely old things to hand on to future generations. I don’t know what they will think we were playing at in years to come, allowing these beautiful, one-off buildings to be smashed down and then they are gone for good. We won’t see anything like The Highlands again. A sad day for us and for future Penarthians. How on earth has this been allowed to happen?

  16. Monty says:

    In the interests of fairness, it would be good to see a complete breakdown of which councillors voted in favour, who voted against and who abstained.

    • Richard Roberts says:

      I agree. It would be interesting to know how each councillor voted – but the vote was by show of hands. The names of councillors and the way each one voted were not read out . The Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council decided last August to continue with the present hands-up system and that it did not want to disclose to the public how individual councillors vote .

  17. Mark Foster says:

    Did you notice? Lis Burnett has removed the silver handbag from the bench behind. She must read PDN. LOL!

    • Sophie says:

      Ha ha, that handbag observation of yours still makes me laugh. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  18. Ray Palfrey says:

    Another nail in the coffin of penarth and its historical heritage !

  19. Liz says:

    Shocking. These are elected individuals whose job it is to represent the people of Penarth who voted for them – not further their own agendas. Why do they never seem to listen, especially on matters of heritage, where the voice of public opinion is loud and clear? I’ll certainly be asking questions when election candidates come knocking on my door.

  20. It strikes me that the current form of the Labour Party despise anything of cultural and/or historic value. Their “en bloc” vote here is a prime example of this. There are elections in May – Wake up Penarth, you know what to do.

  21. Peter Church says:

    I find this so sad. If anyone decides to vote for Burnett, they really need their head examined.
    If Labour councillors had their way they would tax and demolish Penarth until any sense of difference was removed.
    Even the likes of Lindsay have given up trying to defend them.
    But what does Burnett spend her time on twitter doing.
    Signing the praises of restoration projects in Barry while voting for the destruction of Penarth, she has a cheek to even stand in the forthcoming election.

    Lis Burnett Retweeted
    RICS‏Verified account @RICSnews Mar 30
    £1.6m spent on restoring Barry Pump House, creating living/working units. “It’s become a focal point for the town.”

    No doubt she will complaining that people are criticising her, I’m afraid Lis you are in politics and have made mistake after mistake, no wonder people are angry with you.

    • Mr Greenall says:

      I thought this was an April Fools joke, so a had a look at her twitter account myself.
      No Lis Burnett posted a retweet about saving Great British Buildings and she posted a picture of the restored pump house in Barry, this was on Thursday, Friday she votes to destroy a great building in Penarth!
      Does she not she the irony in this?

      She is also constantly complaining on twitter that she is being attacked.
      “Increasingly personal attacks by political opponents. Will not stoop to that level but have lots of screen grabs. Is it name and shame time?”
      Does she not she the irony in this also?

    • Judy says:

      Yes, I saw that about Barry Pump House being restored. Seems it’s OK to cherish old buildings in Barry but not in Penarth.

  22. Eddie says:

    To abstain from such a critical vote, as was the case with 3 of the Vale councillors, is an abdication of responsibility on their part. Surely they were for or against the demolition of the building. How could they sit on the fence with such an important issue which affects Penarth’s heritage? The net result is that we loose an important and historic building and Lis Burnett gets her own way. I despair of our Labour councillors.

Comments are closed.