The Highlands – the once-grand dwelling that’s been described as “the most spectacular mansion in Penarth” is now expected to be totally demolished within the next two months.
The huge stone-built arts-and-crafts era house on the escarpment above Cogan is awaiting the completion of a further bat survey before clearance is finally given to flatten it.
It’s believed there may be a significant bat colony in the area with some roosting possibly within the attics of the house itself – so as second survey is being carried out to establish the position.
If bats ARE found, it’s understood that they will be “re-homed” . As a large number of trees in the immediate vicinity have now been felled, the animals will have further to fly to find new roosts
The Highlands – so-called because it occupies one of the highest points of land in Penarth – was built originally by Claude Angel of the eponymous Cardiff shipping line.
Its last purchasers were the Berni family who ran a highly successful ice cream business and a chain of restaurants . The current owner, Mr Simon Berni, faced opposition from some members of his own family over his decision to demolish the building – but eventually the scheme was approved by the Vale of Glamorgan Council – only to be delayed for “bat surveys”.
The spectacular turret or “turelle” was originally a vantage point from which it was possible to see Cardiff Docks, the River Ely, Penarth Docks ( now Penarth Marina) Cogan and the countryside to the South West (where the Cowslip estate now stands .
The tourelle itself is in now bad shape. Investigations have found that much of the exposed timberwork is rotten – and the double doors leading out onto its balcony are being left wide open. Behind it, one of the main chimneys is leaning out of true.
Scores of roof tiles of The Highlands have already been removed and several windows have been smashed – measures which are certain to accelerate deterioration. It was estimated it would cost ast least £500,000 to restore the building to its original estate – but that now seem immaterial with total demolition seemingly inevitable in a few weeks’ time.
By all accounts the interior of The Highlands is said to be a disappointment. Much of the original wood panelling of the main rooms had already stripped out by earlier owners . The original massive arts-and-crafts fireplaces all been replaced with smaller – 1950s style – tiled substitutes.
During the Second World War the building became the headquarters of the Home Guard in Penarth – with further temporary military buildings installed on the large front lawn.
It’s understood that in several rooms the original turn-of-the-century ceilings had been obscured by suspended ceilings. It’s now clear that the building has gone beyond the point of no return.
The site will become a small residential estate of 8 detached homes and 3 “affordable units” and another piece of Penarth’s history will have gone.