The swing bridge – seen as Penarth’s equivalent of Tower Bridge or Sydney Harbour Bridge – was lit up when the 150th anniversary of Penarth Docks was celebrated in  2015 – but since 2016  the bridge has been out of action – and local residents have to take the long route around the former docks.

The “Shared Regulatory Services Department”  which works for the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff Council and Bridgend County Borough Council – is opposing proposals to revive the operation of the swing-bridge in Penarth Marina.

The swing-bridge  provides local residents with a convenient means of crossing the waterway at its narrowest mid-point at Town Quay – the section of waterway which links the Inner and Outer basins of the yacht marina.

The Swing Bridge was one of the earliest features installed as the old Penarth Docks were converted into what is now  Penarth Marina in the 1980s. The Swing Bridge was in situ before the pontoons were installed and most of the surrounding houses were built (Photo John Clark)

The pedestrian swing bridge rotates through 90 degrees to open and close,  and was one of the earliest features installed at the Marina in the 1980s – long before any houses were built around the yacht basins

However since June 2016 the bridge – which is actually owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council – has been  “parked” and out of action.

Bridge operators, Penarth Quays Marina,  informed local residents that an ” upgrade”  (to meet the latest Health & Safety Standards)  would mean that every time the bridge swings open for a yacht to pass through, there would be a 50-second-long interlude of flashing lights, high volume buzzers and loud  Tannoy announcements – in Welsh and in English.

The Penarth Marina swing bridge – when it was commission – rotated through 90 degrees to reach across to the opposite side of the waterway. Red lights flashed when it’s in transit and a complicated series of interlocked automatic gates opens to admit pedestrians

A campaign by Marina residents to restore the bridge to normal operations is still on the desk of the Vale of Glamorgan planning department.  Only 39 local people sent in responses to an appeal by the local Residents’ Association to get the bridge working again

Now the latest blow to the residents’ hopes has come from Joint Regulatory Services which has written to the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning department stating its opposition to putting the swing bridge back into action

Rebecca Athay of Joint Regulatory Services says that on a site visit to the bridge on November 24th last year “Background noise readings were taken between 13:50 and 14:15.  Background noise levels were averaging around 43dB.  When the swing bridge started operating noise levels spiked at 82dB and it took 3 minutes to go back to 43dB (this is including the barrier opening on the other side of the bridge).”

Ms Athay goes on to say 82dB is very loud, but on top of the noise level movement of the bridge included a grinding and banging noise would contribute to being both intermittent and tonal. Reopening of the bridge will have a severe adverse impact on residential amenity, as the closest is 3 meters from the mechanics of the bridge.”

Many motorboats and all the yachts in Penarth Marina’s inner basin required the Swing Bridge to be opened before they could enter or leave –  as is illustrated by this video shot in 2011 .

Penarth Quays Marina has already stated its opposition  to re-opening the swing bridge – and proposes to leave it where it is – parked and stationary –  in perpetuity.

The ball is now in the court of the Vale of Glamorgan’s planning department.


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  1. Chris David says:

    Surely of the residents want it they should get it? Certainly visitors find it extremely palatable. Mind if Penarth wants its Goldsworthy of the VoG wont- and what he says goes!

    • My reading of the Shared Regulatory Services Department’s memo is that it is a basic statement of fact, no more no less. I hope that those making the final decision actually understand it but I have my doubts.

      Those residents affected by the noise most certainly do not want the bridge restored and some of us have objected to the application.

      If Barry agrees to this application and the alarms and warnings are implemented then, I for one, will complain to environmental health who will have little option but to issue an enforcement order banning operation.

      What I don’t understand is why those who want the bridge restored have such a loud voice and those of us who are so badly affected are not being heard.

    • Philip Rapier says:

      This is ridiculously shameful bad science put together by the Bridgend and Vale Regulatory Services Quango. Disingenuous Self Adjudicating nonsense. Fortunately these people will not be making the decision and the WAG Auditor General would examine these dodgy statistics..
      82 db is very low.. It is about the same as the Vales Rubbish Collection Vehicle outside your house. Up to 8 hours continuous exposure is thought to be safe.
      Here are some true tolerance levels with safe 8 hour continuous exposure times.—–
      Garbage disposal, dishwasher, average factory, freight train (at 15 meters). Car wash at 20 ft (89 dB); propeller plane flyover at 1000 ft (88 dB); diesel truck 40 mph at 50 ft (84 dB); diesel train at 45 mph at 100 ft (83 dB). Food blender (88 dB); milling machine (85 dB); garbage disposal (80 dB).

      • RT says:

        82dB is not very low. It’s bloody annoying. How do you expect those living nearby to tolerate that all day every day?

  2. Brickie says:

    Funny how it was never that noisy for the previous 30 years. Is VoG playing fair?

    • RT says:

      It was never that noisy because the alarms were muted due to complaints about the noise! I don’t think that even the current un-muted alarms meet current legal requirements. The alarms specified in the application are even louder, much louder.

      Looking at the figures provided by the Shared Regulatory Services Department and taking into account the noise level of vessels which may use the marina I have my doubts that the alarms specified are actually loud enough to be clearly heard above the noise at the time of bridge operations reasonable level above the ambient noise. particularly on boats underway.

      Looking at the noise figures and considering the proximity of residents I cannot see that it is possible to operate the bridge in a safe manner without blighting the lives of these living in the vicinity.

      Quite why the residents’ association are campaigning to blight the lives of those they are suppose to be representing I don’t know.

    • Me says:

      I think it’s the addition of flashing lights, announcements and warning alarms that will make it noisy. Just operate it during the day in that case.

  3. Grim Reaper says:

    First photo caption “The swing bridge – seen as Penarth’s equivalent of Tower Bridge or Sydney Harbour Bridge…” 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Chris David says:

    Oh- One agrees Luca 🙂 Health n safety meets potty PC, not good.

  5. Jackie says:

    Would it not be possible to only having the bridge operational from 8.00am until 8.00pm thus reducing the noise for houses nearby. It was never an issue when it was working. It has become one now. If penarth Marina had maintained then we would not be having these discussions.

  6. Graham Vodden. says:

    Dear Editor ,
    I read with amazement your article on the swing bridge and the problem it is causing the residents of Penarth Dock .
    As I see it ,there is definitely no need to have high volume buzzers and loud Tannoy announcements in English and Welsh , this is a total nonsense. A simple traffic light system
    is all that is required which is connected to the existing gate system would be ample .
    As for the noise the bridge makes ,I suspect the mechanism needs some TLC- – GRAESE.
    An other aspect of this nonsense is WHY are the Vale of Glamorgan Council using Shared
    Regulatory Services to make a simple decision like this?. If the V.O.G.C. officers cant make
    a basic decision like this, we the rate payers should not be employing them, that is what they
    are employed for
    A further aspect of this is the obvious Blight on the residents caught up in all this. I have
    to say I smell a rat here. In my considered opinion all these regulatory departments such
    as quangos, n, r, w, advisors, shared regulatory services, and the nonsense of the Welsh
    Language interpreters should be disposed of immediately, because the cost to us must
    be vast, and we must be paying double for this type of extra service .
    If the regulation is shown to be a nonsense, it should be re-written to suit the
    situation .Common sense and understanding needs to prevail in regard to this problem .
    Graham Vodden .

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