Two years after opening – long-waited information plaques have at last been installed in the parapet of the notorious Penarth Head Viewing Platform, …but the structure itself is continuing to deteriorate

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 .

One of the plaques gives bearings and distances to other points of interest – including the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia which has an even higher tidal rise and fall than the Bristol Channel

The plaque giving information about Penarth

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 .

One of the “information” plaques extolls the virtues of rival locations, miles away from Penarth,  like  the council-owned beach huts on Barry Island and the shops and restaurants of Cowbridge

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.

January 2015 – deep footings or foundations for the  massive structure are prepared and steel mesh installed before 84 tonnes of liquid concrete were poured in

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 .

The cliff edge has been fenced off for safety  – and bushes were planted around the “turret” of the Viewing Platform to “soften” its stark and uncompromising appearance

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.

The diagonal cracks in the brickwork – which first appeared in November 2016 – are today (July 9 2017) even more obvious.

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.

The wall has pulled apart so much that expansion joint material is now loose

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.




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. Ron Foxton says:

    What a numpteefest… like toddlers playing with Lego. Geologists not available at 3:53 when this balancing monolith got the go ahead? All home by 4 then. Planning? Why?

    Expensive, pointless and obviously dangerous fiasco.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      Glamorgan Coast Geology 5 – Erosion
      A cache by Write and Mane on the Geocache Website
      Given this information provided by professional geologists for students and amateurs alike has been on the Web since 2009. The lazy planners could have just stayed home and Googled instead of just not bothering to commission a survey.

      PENARTH HEAD (GEOLOGY CHALLENGE CACHE) Note the reference to the Dock Offices
      The main function of the sea is to wash the debris away: if it didn’t, the material would accumulate until it reached its natural angle of repose, vegetate over and stabilise the situation.

      You can see where this has happened behind the former dock office.!!!!

      We must apologise at this point, as we are about to lower the tone of the cache listing! At the base of Penarth Head are the remains of a stone bastion, constructed to protect manholes on a sewer outfall about 100 years ago – but don’t worry, the sewer is no longer in use. At the time of construction, the sewer down to the foreshore was built in tunnel, well behind the cliff face: today, you can see part of it exposed about 8-10 feet above the north side of the bastion remains.

      This gives a clue to the rate of erosion here: in a century, the cliff has receded more than 10 feet. What price a “des. res.” on Penarth Head now?

      If this rate of erosion continued for a geological unit of time, a million years, Penarth, Barry and a lot of villages beyond would have gone, but Cowbridge might still be around! A further indicator of the rate of erosion can be found at the groyne which is crossed at Waypoint 3R. At the cliff end of the groyne is a gap of about 5.58 feet (Image 3), representing the erosion that has occurred since the groyne was constructed. If you take the date on the step where you cross the groyne as the date of its construction, you can calculate the more recent rate of erosion.

  2. Mark Foster says:

    Anybody who believes this is a viewing platform believes in fairies (Muammar Gaddaffi). Tories as bad as Labour. We need Trump and Putin.

  3. Peter Petherick says:

    It should be left as it is … As a reminder of ,… just how stupid these know it all, local “politicians” can really be. Their arrogance is outstanding. This should be kept as a “monument” to those people that Know it All. …. Sorry for any grammatical errors.

    • Peter Church says:

      Never mind the grammatical errors, what on earth was your post about?
      I saw the new plastic “information” plaques yesterday. They look so very cheap and unless covered by some perspex they will be gone by next Saturday.

    • Daft o dull says:

      Yes it needs a plaque though to ensure it is properly attributed to Liz Burnet’s folly collection.

    • NickP says:

      Well said.

  4. Anne Greagsby says:

    Those widening cracks are very worrying. I am not convinced by the pre-election assurances that this Penarth Head bunker is strong and stable!?

  5. Papa Lazarou says:

    This monstrosity will probably end up on the beach within the next decade.

  6. Pat salthouse says:

    Total waste of our hard earned money. Disgustong

  7. NickP says:

    A monument to it’s sponsors…

  8. Mrs Tumble says:

    Maybe we should suggest that the councillors should hold all their meetings up there. That would be interesting.

  9. Frederick says:

    A warning to those intent on the Northcliffe development?

    • Penileaks says:

      Which will not be heeded as there is too much money in little residential boxes !

  10. Penileaks says:

    There are surely two clear questions here.
    1. If the cracks are not being caused by ground slippage, which a recent council instigated survey said they were not, then the fault and the responsibility for restoring the structure into a safe condition, will rest with the contractor, PINIT Building Services in believe. Why have the council not instructed them to carry out proper and lasting repairs ?
    2. If the cracks are caused by land slippage, despite what the survey reports, then the structure and the land around it are not safe and the area should be closed The accountability for this scenario will be lie with the council and if they have not taken due care in planning and the execution of this, then surely those that were involved and circumnavigated or ignored the legal process, can and should be prosecuted for wasting local tax payers money ?

    Chose scenario 1 and the structure should be made safe at the contractors cost. Choose scenario 2 and those responsible within the Vale Council at the time that the structure was given the go ahead, would have to repay some if not all of the costs involved.

    Of course this is all a dream and I am really living in La, La land, because all the above involved will close ranks, cover their own backsides and nothing more will be done until the whole structure will collapse onto the beach below and the Vale Council at the time will turn up and erect a new fence along the then new cliff edge.

  11. Local Eye says:

    May I point out that the main perpetrator of this was successful in the last local elections and is now a councillor representing Stanwell Ward. Hard to get worked up over this and with luck it will fall into the sea.

Comments are closed.