The Vale of Glamorgan Council has taken emergency action to close the whole of Penarth Head Park because of public safety concerns

In what’s understood to be an emergency measure, the  Vale of Glamorgan Council has had to close the whole of Penarth Head Park  – the park which occupies the highest section of the Penarth Head Cliff .

The cause appears to be ground movement brought about by the previous Labour administration’s heavily-criticised decision to build a massive 200 tonne “Viewing Platform” on the very edge of the 200 foot high cliff.

The viewing platform as it is today – closed and barred from public access – as is now the whole of Penarth Head Park

The Viewing Platform project was described as a Labour Party “Vanity Project” – supposedly to demonstrate just how clever, wise and far-sighted the Labour councillors were. Now, it seems,  the chickens are coming home to roost .

It’s understood the that no geological surveys at all were carried out by the Labour Vale Council  before it commissioned its own officers to design the massive gun-emplacement-like structure built only inches from the edge of the fragile cliff.

The timeline of the project is as follows:-

January 5th 2015: A 3D impression of the Viewing Platform as planned by Labour – without any consultation with the people of Penarth

January 5th 2015: The Vale of Glamorgan Council (run in 2015  by the Labour Party) – announces it is to build a Viewing Platform at the highest level of Penarth Head – directly overlooking the Bristol Channel channel .   It is to be created in the shape of the Wales Coast Path logo – an upside-down letter “P”. The cost is said to be £75,000 which is to come from the Vale Council’s own “capital resources” (i.e. council-tax payers’ money). There is no consultation whatsoever with members of the public or with council-tax-payers.

January 27th 2015 : The deep footings or foundations of the massive structure before “60 tonnes” of concrete were poured in. Later it was admitted the actual amount of concrete used was at least a third more than that – A total of at least 84 tonnes. The total weight of the entire edifice would be well over 150 tonnes

January 27th 2015: Contractors Pinit Construction begin work on the Viewing Platform. Deep trenches are dug into the vulnerable head of the cliff and reinforcing bars installed for the foundations . It’s stated that 25 cubic metres of readymix concrete will be poured into them. The foundations alone will weight more than 60 tonnes  – but although this material is being laid within inches of the edge of the 200 foot cliff – no geological survey has been carried out to ascertain the effects on the delicate strata of the cliff itself.

April 2 2015 :It’s now revealed that the total weight of concrete that’s been poured into the foundations of the Viewing Platform isn’t “60 tonnes – it’s actually 84 tonnes – a third more than was originally specified.

May 7th 2015 The public is given access to the Penarth Head Open Space and the new “Viewing Platform “ for the first time . There is no official opening ceremony. It’s reported that local Labour councillors are too embarrassed to organise any publicity for their creation. Local residents say Penarth Head Park has been “ruined” by what they call an “ugly monstrosity”

May 7, 2015 : After taking four months to complete,  – far longer than originally estimated –  the Penarth Head Viewing Platform is opened to the public for the first time to universal condemnation . There is no opening ceremony . The total weight of the edifice is now estimated to be 92-tonnes. The people of Penarth condemn the building as an ugly eyesore. As a “viewing platform” it’s a disaster. Neither wheelchair users, nor children can see over the high ramparts.  Recesses for public information plaques have been installed in the wrong places and the floor and surfaces of the building are still incomplete. When it rains, the floor floods.

May 16th 2015 . Well-known local architect Nigel Arnold – whose home is the nearest to the Viewing Platform wades into the controversy castigating the Labour Vale Council for its failure to give local residents any advance notice of its plans. He criticises the council for its adamant refusal to consult local people in Penarth or consider their views. He launches a leaflet campaign in which he publishes the private telephone number of the then council leader Neil Moore

The leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Cllr Neil Moore (Labour Cadoc Ward) tried to defend the then Labour-run council’s disastrous decisions – claiming the Viewing Platform was “unfinished” and “complied” with the requirements of wheelchair users –  who could not see over the ramparts.

May 29th 2015: A badly-rattled Labour council leader Neil Moore issues a public statement in response to what he calls ” a number of letters and social media comments about the new Penarth Head viewing platform”. Cllr Moore now describes the Viewing Platform as “part of a suite of works that are currently unfinished  …. It is expected that landscaping, including a raised bed around the base of the platform, will soften and reduce the initial impact of the brick wall, a material chosen to reflect the ‘Blue-Grey Lias Limestone’ boundary wall of the park” .Cllr Moore says “The Viewing Platform has been built to be compliant with the Equalities Act 2010 and will allow wheelchair access with clear visibility over the boundary wall”.[PDN Note: This point is emphatically disputed by buggy and wheelchair users who can’t see a thing from the Viewing Platform because of the height of the walls ]. Nowhere in his open letter does Cllr Moore respond to the central point of the criticism – that there was no consultation with the people of Penarth.

September 16th 2015 The Vale Council admits that the alignment of the information-plaque recesses on the ramparts of the Viewing Platform are all wrongly aligned. They invite visitors to gaze into the living rooms of nearby apartments instead of out to sea

September 16th 2015 : The deputy leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cllr Lis Burnet admits that the recesses in the Penarth  Head Viewing Platform’s ramparts – which were meant to house visitor information –  have  been  wrongly aligned. They point, not at points of interest across the channel, but directly at nearby homes. The council says further alternations are to be made to fix the problem. The costs are now estimated at over  £100,000 (instead of the original £40,000[Building  work had taken 17 weeks rather than the 7 weeks “originally estimated]

November 13th 2016 Daylight appears through a huge crack running from the top of the wall to the base of the Labour Party Vale Council “vanity project” – the Penarth Head Viewing Platform. It will get a lot worse that this.

November 14, 2016:  Just 19 months after completion the first ominous cracks begin appear in the structure of the Penarth Head Viewing Platform.  Long diagonal cracks appear in the North Eastern corner of the massive  structure, indicating that the integrity of the building – poised at the very edge of Penarth Head Cliff – may have failed.  A geologist tells PDN  the indications are that the cliff beneath the “viewing platform”  is unable to withstand the enormous weight – now estimated at 150 tonnes – and is gradually subsiding beneath the foundations .

November 13 2016 : A few months earlier these railings had been vertical. Now they’re splayed outwards by ground movement

November 13 2016 : What was –  just months earlier –  a vertical row of brand new iron railings,  along the very edge of the cliff,  has , in the space of 19 months,  been pushed out of shape at an angle as the cliff-edge slowly subsides under the massive weight of the viewing platform. The cost of the project is now estimated to be £150,000 – and climbing.

November 22 2018 : The Vale of Glamorgan Council notice closes the Viewing Platform  to the public whilst professional surveyors are called in to check how much the structure is moving and whether it’s safe

November 22 2016 : The Vale of Glamorgan Council notice closes the Viewing Platform  to the public whilst professional surveyors are called in to check how much the structure is moving and whether it’s safe.

November 22 2016 The Penarth Head Park is partially fenced off for safety reasons

November 22 2016 Whilst the survey work is in progress the viewing platform is closed to the public  – but the park remains open . However  new inner fence is installed in Penarth Head Park to keep the public back from the edge of the cliff .

A large section of the Penarth Head Park itself has now been fenced off to the public

November 22 2016 A large section of the Penarth Head Park itself was  fenced off to the public – it maroons a doggie poop bin and two benches

November 22 2016 Yellow movement markers were attached to the structure and also driven into the ground on Penarth Head by the Alpine surveyors

November 22 2016 Alpine Land Surveyors install stainless steel pegs into the earth around the viewing platform which contain monitoring equipment linked to sixteen GPS satellites. These will indicate whenever ground movement of more than a millimetre has taken place.

Special markers were fixed to the walls to establish the amount of movement

February 4th 2017 the Viewing  Platform is re-opened to the public. The still Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council  claims the result of the survey work shows that the Viewing Platform is  “safe for the public to enjoy” – but nevertheless is keeping in place the new rows of emergency post-and-wire fencing it had installed as an additional safety measure  to keep people further back from the cliff edge than the original iron railings had.

July 26th 2017 Abseiling experts about to climb over the edge of Penarth Head Cliff to examine the subsidence that’s causing the structural failure of the Labour Vale Council’s Penarth Head Viewing platform.

July 26th 2017:  Following the election of a Conservative administration in the Vale Council in May 2017, the new council calls in a team of experts to  abseil part-way down the cliff-face of Penarth Head  to try to ascertain just how much damage the former Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council has done to Penarth Head Park and the fragile cliff structure at the top of the cliff.

The experts working on the face of the cliff-top told local residents that  they had been instructed to clear back parts of the cliff edge and face in order to find out “what was going on”  – and whether it would be possible to reinforce the subsiding structure. Armed with chain saws  they worked  suspended by ropes on the face of Penarth Head – up to 15 feet below the cliff top with a 200 foot drop below them. They said that the expansion gaps and bricks to the front and on the ground had already been re-pointed and that these had definitely moved again since that repair work was carried out. One of the experts carrying out the examination said he was not sure anything could be done to remedy the situation and thought that at least part of the viewing platform would eventually “end up on the beach”. The cost of the structure and the subsequent repairs and surveys is said to be approaching £250,000.

June 8th 2018 Spectators crowd onto the Penarth Head Viewing platform to watch the race from the edge of the cliff . It now appears they may have been risking their lives

June 8th 2018:  Spectators pack the Penarth Head Viewing Platform to watch the start of the Volvo Ocean Races . More people are now standing on the Viewing Platform than ever before – unaware that huge cracks are opening up in the structure and the ground is literally shifting beneath their feet.

July 24 2018 :The hot dry summer creates further cracks in the ground around the viewing platform – but they’re masked by a layer of parched cut grass. The viewing platform remains open.

July 24 2018 : Local residents report seeing deep cracks and fissures developing in the ground around the Viewing Platform . Alpine surveyors return to the site to check it out.

July 24th 2018: The widening crack in the ramparts of the viewing platform is now so large there’s no doubt about the fact that the integrity of the structure has failed.

July 24 2018:  The surveyors note that the cracks in the structure of the Viewing Platform are now larger than ever. The Viewing Platform is unzipping itself under its own weight and pulling itself apart as the cliff edge underneath it is crushed downwards. They report back to the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

August 9 2018 :The huge crack in ramparts of the Viewing Platform have got so big that a strain gauge installed at a position at the top right of the photo has failed and fallen off (Photo John Matthews)

August 9th 2018:  The size of the huge cracks developing in the brick built ramparts of the Viewing Platform make it obvious that the edifice is pulling itself apart – and could take part of the cliff with it . The picture taken on Thursday August 9th by John Matthews (above) may be the last ever to be taken of the Viewing Platform’s walls. The strain gauges glued to the walls by the surveyors to measure increases in the cracks have now failed and fallen off.

August 10th 2018: No one knows when Penarth Head Park will re open . Local residents fear the closure could be permanent

August 10th 2018 : The Vale of Glamorgan Council decides to close not just the Viewing Platform itself  – but the entire Penarth Head Park. It gives no explanation for the closure and only invites the public to ring 01446700111 for more information.

When callers ring that number they are told that Penarth Head Park has had to be closed because of a “large crack” developing in the Viewing Platform. The park is to remain closed “until further notice”   .

UPDATE : August 14 2018: The Penarth Head Park was re-opened today but the Viewing Platform itself is closed-off to the public with metal barriers placed across both entrances. There has been no further comment from the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

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  1. Lesley Monger says:

    There are fissures in St Augustine’s churchyard also
    It’s the dry weather
    Hope this park is not closed permanently as I usually walk my dog there everyday
    Yesterday an elderly couple were really disappointed when it was closed
    Again this rubbish council have ruined things for the community such as the joke of ‘flower garden’s at Plassey Square
    When will they ever learn!

    • Philip Rapier says:

      The lack of respect for Penarth by the Vale of Glamorgan sinks (literally) to new depths.
      Surpassed only by the Railway Path bullying in long term damage.
      If Barry was on the edge of the Cardiff Boundary do you honestly think the Vale of Glamorgan would exist. However we are made to suffer their misrule day in and day out.

      In December 2012 a group of Open University Students from Bristol made a Field Trip to Penarth. These relative novices observed what the Vale of Glamorgan Surveyors failed to see i.e. impending disaster.

      “Faults and Folds”
      “The Mesozoic rocks are folded into shallow synclines and anticlines for example
      the Syncline, best seen looking west from Lavernock Point. Another syncline occurs
      at Penarth Head, although this is disturbed by considerable faulting; the
      Penarth Fault extends for several miles in a north-westerly direction at least as far
      as Ely, west of Cardiff. The Lavernock Fault brings red and yellow Triassic mudstones
      and sandstones alongside the rocks of the Blue Anchor and Westbury formations;
      the vertical movement involved is approximately 160m. Along the entire
      section many other smaller faults can be seen, including graben structures
      associated with the breakup of Pangaea.”
      Severnside Group Open University December 2012

  2. Chris David says:

    They should rename the platform simply Wales. Yup it on the verge of falling over a cliff. I’m one of those seemingly rare people that like the platform. But like most public things “composed” by Labour Wales, it’s an engineering cock up. So if they’ve closed the entire park rather that just the structure, have they endangered the entire local cliff top area?

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    It’s not half as satisfying as you think it is going to be to say …’I told you so’! And what a shocking waste of money when there are so many basic things that need doing e.g. fixing potholes.

  4. says:

    All I can say is “what a shambles”. Where was Health and Safety when this was being planned.?

  5. sjleworthy says:

    You could park a bus in those cracks. Probably a 747 in another month or 2

  6. But potholes are a different budget. Do you really expect the Folly Department to let the Pot Hole Department have some of their budget?

  7. snoggerdog says:

    there was a lovely wooden structure once with benches on each side,the drunks started abusing it, how did the council respond,they knocked it down! also the one in the the whole of the uk seems to be following suit. cheese eating surrender monkeys could be referring to our ruling decision makers!

  8. Andrew Worsley says:

    Ive said all along this was a disaster waiting to happen , if its not the hot weather making the area even more unsafe it will be a harsh winter when ice gets in the cracks etc . Should never have been built and those responsible made to answer for their irresponsibility , their arrogance and going against wishes of the people. There are lots of things that need attention in the town , the roads being one of them , but those concerns were ignored and thousands of taxpayers money was WASTED on this folly instead. One wonders how much of the cliff face it takes with it when it does give up the struggle to stay put. And just to think there are people unbelievably who were and probably are still dreaming of a walkway around the base of this cliff. As the saying goes , ” you couldn’t make it up” it seems sanity is a fragile beast in this neck of the woods !!?.

    • Modom says:

      The disaster will happen I fear, and we will lose one of the great joys of Penarth.
      A wicked, irresponsible folly; created by stupid, ignorant egomaniacs.

  9. Dr. Cliff C Ollapse says:

    Members of the previous Labour Cabinet bear responsibility for the fiasco, particularly Councillor’s Lis Burnett and Neil Moore. She seems very keen on her left wing Twitter Blog to distance herself from the scheme now, but at the time she, along with fellow cabinet members signed off on it and ultimately provided the money to build it. (which you and I paid for via our council tax)

    This was her comment on the cliff top monument at the time.
    “The Council recognises the importance that green space plays in the life of the local community as well as visitors to the area. These improvements will ensure that the park becomes a special destination for users of the Wales Coast Path offering unrivalled views in a unique cliff top setting.”

    Might soon to be VERY unique Lis and Neil

    • Frank Evans says:

      Lis Burnetts left wing Twitter blog made me laugh.
      Seriously those who made this decision should be held to account. And it’s not a Twitter account!!

  10. CS Man says:

    The councillors responsible should be made to pay back the cost to us taxpayers for their utter stupidity.

  11. Bob Williams says:

    But come the next council elections, the people will still vote in these morons into office again!

  12. Dizzydeb says:

    And to add to this monumental cock up they are now going to ruin St Pauls Church turning this area into a car park and dump nuclear mud off Penarth! Someone shoot them!

  13. Jack says:

    if this has destabilised the cliff, I hope those living close by will be compensated for any damage to their homes.

    • jp says:

      IF it has yes, but I suspect they will claim the months of dry weather and the natural geology are actually to blame … the houses by the xlifftop were always going to go over one day, unless the taxpayer coughs up to save the houses with their priceless views. Caveat emptor!

  14. Peter Church says:

    Lis Burnett’s monument, strong and stable 🙂

  15. cogan nomen says:

    Compensation ?
    Go to church and pray !
    God sent this council
    To make the Penarth heathens suffer !

  16. Andrew Worsley says:

    Yes people living close to this pending disaster need to get advice on the legal front as they were not taken into consideration at all when this waste of money so if they are affected in any way by it they need compensation. And if I was them id seek it now ,it cannot be nice sleeping in your bed so close to a disaster waiting to happen.

  17. David Moorcraft says:

    What is the Total Amount of public money , including surveys and repair works subsequently required , that has been WASTED on this ugly, useless crumbling White Elephant ?
    As a kid I used to play in this beautiful park. It’s been Vandalised by arrogant know-it-alls, ….with our money !!
    Shame on Burnett and Moore !

  18. Frank Evans says:

    With this rain. The viewing platform will be on the beach tomorrow.

  19. Max Wallis says:

    A closer look shows the crack is not just pulling apart, as in your Nov.2016 picture, but also the cliff-side corner is dropping, as in the July 24 picture. On the outside, the drop between the two sides of the junction is clearer, by 5-6mm. The cracking away of the outside footing bricks – visible in your pictures of the inclined railings of 13th Nov 2016, which was cemented over in the repairs – has gradually reopened and is now a full 10mm since that repair.
    One can’t put this down to the drought. The movement outwards of the top of the cliff has been continuing ever since the consultants gave their all-clear and the cracks were filled.
    The Council should have decided on saving the structure – or not – after the abseil inspection 12 months ago. If Council leaders’ own houses were suffering such rapid subsidence, they would have taken emergency action. What was the surveyor’s report and what did they decide at that time?

  20. Jack says:

    Wonder how this has gone down round the bend in Sainte ‘Something quite spectacular is being created’ Adresse [sic]?

  21. Scootergirl says:

    I’m sorry but this structure was and is a MONSTROSITY. I’m sure if the people of Penarth had been consulted, they would have refused this plan. This park was a lovely little place before this so called improvement, it’s been totally ‘vandalised’ by our so called council and at our expense. Who the hell does Lis Burnett think she is – taking it upon herself to agree to such an obscene structure, without putting it out for comments from Residents. I’m sure a better one could have been thought up. The sooner she and her cronies are voted out the better.

  22. Jackson says:

    If the structure and park are closed off, surely the beach below should be too?…

    • AK says:

      Warning signs of ‘falling rocks’ at both ends.

      Nothing yet about falling Lis’s Folly!

  23. Andrew Worsley says:

    I suggest the Council hold their next meeting in this park, and why didn’t Liz Burnett or Mr Neil take the press or any other interested parties to look at this edifice once it was completed . What is really amazing about this structure is there is now no safe way to remove or dismantle ….any drilling will be dangerous due to vibration , no heavy machinery can be used due to the extra weight , even hammering will be dangerous, in short we are stuck with it till it crashes to the beach below and ill give it within 5 years maximum at this stage.

  24. Clive says:

    The old saying “Speed of race horses, brains of rocking horses” comes to mind. Sack the lot and make them go and get proper jobs

  25. Fishhenge says:

    Dig it up and replace it with one resembling the pier, made out of decking from B&Q.

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