The infamous Penarth Head Viewing Platform – the £100,000 legacy of the previous Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan Council – has finally had bilingual visitor information plaques installed on the parapet of the much-criticised structure.
Labour councillors admitted that the recesses for the plaques had been “misaligned” when they were installed .
The plaques inform visitors about what they can see from the viewing platform – which is situated just inches away from the fragile edge of the 200ft Penarth Head cliff – where the ground is steadily subsiding under the 150-tonne weight of concrete and brick .
Curiously, the plaques also extoll the virtues of other rival tourist destinations miles away from Penarth and include illustrations of the Vale of Glamorgan Council-owned beach huts at Barry Island and the shopping centre of Cowbridge.
The Labour Vale Council had begun work on building the viewing platform – without any public consultation and without planning permission – in January 2015.
Deep excavations were dug into the top of the cliff and 84 tonnes of liquid concrete were poured into them . The viewing platform built of concrete and high density engineering bricks was erected on top of those foundations .
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 .
When it was completed, the building appeared to have more the overtones of a Communist-style Mausoleum, a Wehrmacht gun-emplacement or a North Korean saluting dais than a visitor-attraction.
It produced complaints from scores of local residents who felt it had destroyed the ambience of Penarth Head Park. Significantly perhaps, Vale Labour councillors – never usually shy of publicity – performed no opening ceremony.
By November 2016 – structural faults appeared to be developing, with long diagonal cracks developing in the North Eastern end indicating that the integrity of the building – poised at the very edge of Penarth Head Cliff – had failed
The Viewing Platform was then closed to the public and consultants were brought in to carry out a survey of the structure and monitor its movements.
After assurances that the Viewing Platform was safe, the Vale Council then re-opened the structure to the public.
However since re-opening there is now clear evidence of further movement in the structure.
Some of the expansion joints built into the brick walls have now pulled apart to such an extent that the joint material – designed to compensate for any movement in the brickwork – is loose and crumbling away.