The Welsh Labour Government is providing the Vale of Glamorgan Council with a grant of £100,000 of taxpayers’ money to fund what’s described as a new “feasibility study” for a “Mark II” version of the infamous Penarth Headland Link project.
The Welsh Government – which constantly pleads poverty and claims it doesn’t get given enough money by the UK Government – is attempting to re-start what has been described as a “disastrous Labour vanity project”.
In 2007 the first (“Mark I”) Headland Link project ran into uncontrolled overspends and wound up costing taxpayers more that £26,000,000 – with absolutely nothing to show for it.
In November 2015 there was a packed public meeting at Penarth Pier Pavilion for the official launch of a consultation exercise to establish the degree of support for a new (Mark II) attempt to build the ‘Headland Link’ from Penarth Esplanade along the rocky shoreline to the Cardiff Bay Barrage. [ see PDN report on https://tinyurl.com/opohqne ]
Unlike the original scheme, it’s proposed that the “Mark II” version for the Headland Walkway would not be designed to be built on angled concrete stilts ( like its disastrous and unbuilt predecessor ) .
The Mark II design would comprise a rock-fill causeway running along the shore at a distance from the cliff face varying between 15 metres and 25 metres (to avoid any danger of rockfalls) . This amended version of the project was predicted (three years ago) to cost half the budget-busting total of £26,000,000 wasted on the previous 2007 scheme .
Along the top of the causeway will be a 6.5 metre wide thoroughfare which will have dedicated lanes for cyclists and for disabled users .It is also supposed to be wide enough for emergency vehicles and for “road trains” to use.
The whole scheme is based on the belief that it’s too difficult for pedestrians to skirt the headland by walking along the beach – as they have been doing for centuries.
At the Penarth end, plans are less clear but it’s envisaged the causeway would be connected to a car park and a commercial / retailing “plaza” which it’s hoped might generate the funding required to maintain the entire length of the structure .
This “plaza” edifice would be mostly hidden from view behind the cliff and would not be as high as the old – and now “much missed” – multi-storey car park demolished by the Vale of Glamorgan council in the early ’90s. Critics say this multi storey car park should have been properly maintained by the council and should ever have been demolished.
On the foreshore the causeway will be built higher than the existing groynes which are built out at right angles from the cliff, but will not be high enough to avoid “over-topping” [ i.e. flooding] at exceptionally high spring tides .
On such high tides the Mark II Headland Link causeway would be closed. The causeway will be “porous” – i.e. unlike the Cardiff Bay Barrage, the tide will flow through it – rather than around it .
It’s been established that there are three different freeholders who own parts of the foreshore which are not in public ownership . [A substantial chunk of the foreshore was acquired by the War Office when it built an artillery fort at the cliff top before WW1 . This was subsequently sold off to private property developers ] .
[PDN Note: There is a full PDN report on the 2015 public meeting on the Mark II Penarth Headland Link on https://tinyurl.com/opohqne ]