Broken windows, a wrecked roof and the stumps of sawn-down trees mark out The Highlands in Cogan, Penarth, as it awaits funal demolition  Within two months from now it will be gone – but the coachhouse on the left will be retained, renovated  and become part of the new development.

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.

The Highlands as it was before demolition began

Large sections of the original roof tiles have already been removed – leaving the structure no longer weatherproof. In left in this condition, the house would almost automatically self-destruct over time as internal floors and ceilings collapse – but in this case the entire mansion is scheduled to be flattened  anyway before the end of the year

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 windows in the Mock-Tudor gable wall are now broken and the interior open to the elements

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”.

Investigation of the tourelle turret showed that much of the balcony timberwork is rotten

The timberwork of the turret balcony appears to be rotten

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.

The original art-deco stained glass windows of the main entrance still survive … just about

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.

Cogan – as seen from the lawn terrace of The Highlands. The lawn is to become a small housing estate. In the distance on the left hand side is the tower block of Penarth Heights

The Highlands as it was in its own secluded grounds on the highest point of land in Cogan (Google Earth image)

Highlands in earlier days with its immaculate front lawn – which is now to be a building site

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.

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  1. graham vodden says:


  2. Phil Dawson says:

    All very sad but at the same time inevitable if nobody wants to restore and keep it. I hope PDN will continue to report on the demolition progress.

  3. Modom says:

    Shame on all those who allowed this to happen.

  4. mikeyorke says:

    I’d love to get hold of some of the floorboards and be happy to turn them in to suitable benches for Penarth

    • snoggerdog says:

      youve got no chance with that mr yorke,thats a good idea & a good offer.

    • Lord of the Bay says:

      I hope that whoever does the demolition does not simply throw everything into a skip – some of the period features would be snapped up by an architectural salvage company, if they are given the opportunity.. At least then parts of this poor neglected building could live on.

  5. Lesley says:

    Long overdue

  6. John bowkett says:

    I don’t get all these people having a right old moan about this dilapidated property,
    Probably at the moment it brings in £3000 a year in council tax, depending on how many properties get built there it could be 10x that, all money going into the council coffers for them to waste as they wish.
    If anything moaners should be having a pop at the previous owners for letting it get into a state of disrepair.

  7. Peter Church says:

    If I let my house go to rack and ruin can I demolish it and build 4 apartments?

  8. Andrew Worsley says:

    Yes you can Peter Church as you now live in a prefab it would be no problem .

  9. Viv says:

    What an utter waste of a beautiful old building. It makes my blood boil to think it’s going to be demolished.

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