PENARTH HEAD VIEWING PLATFORM TO BE REPAIRED… “UNDER INSTRUCTION”

Risky business: On June 8th this year scores of spectators  crowded onto the Penarth Head Viewing platform –  poised at the edge of  Penarth Head Cliff –   to watch the Volvo Round the World Yacht Race . Little did they know the structure they were standing on was unsafe.  Shortly afterwards the Penarth Head Viewing platform  was deemed too dangerous to use and was closed to the public

The controversial Penarth Head Viewing platform – is to be repaired by the contractors who originally built it – under the supervision of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

The 150 tonne viewing platform was built in Penarth Head Park at the edge  of the Penarth Head cliff by the former Labour administration in the Vale of Glamorgan

The massive Penarth Head “viewing platform” nearing completion in 2015

July 24th 2018: The crack in the ramparts of the viewing platform leave no one in any doubt about the fact that the integrity of the structure has failed.

As huge cracks opened up in the structure it was closed to the public, then re-opened, then closed again, then re-opened a third time again and then closed yet again. It currently remains closed and is fenced off.

The cracking of the structure prompted the Vale Council to erect a row of post-and-wire fencing further inland to keep the public further back from the edge of the cliff.

The “viewing platform” effectively blocks-off the views from other seats in Penarth Head Park .

The Viewing Platform began pulling itself apart as the strata of the fragile cliff beneath seemed unable to bear the enormous weight of concrete and dense engineerting brick which had been used in the construction.

At least three  times a firm of expert surveyors have been brought  in to check how serious the movement in the structure is –  and whether it’s continuing to move. There have been concerns that the entire structure might collapse 200 feet down the beach below – taking part of the cliff with it.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has now written to local residents living nearby to bring them up to date with the latest developments:-

The letter sent by the Vale Council to local tresidents

In the letter the Vale Council’s Principal Engineer Development says

“Dear Sir or Madam.
RE: Penarth Head Viewing Platform
l write to update you on the position regarding the Penarth Head Viewing
Platform.
Following an inspection of the Platform in August 2018, to monitor the minor
cracking that was present, it was observed that the cracking had grown
considerably. Council engineers made the decision to close the viewmg
platform in order to undertake investigative work to establish the cause of the
cracking and also to assess whether the viewing platform was safe for public
use.
Council Officers have now completed their investigative works and as a result
the Contractor who built the Viewing Platform has agreed to undertake
remedial works to address the issues, under instruction from the Councils
Engineers. Once these remedial works have been undertaken the Platform
will be reopened. Whilst these remedial works are being undertaken it is
necessary to keep the Viewing Platform closed to the public and the Council
apologises for any inconvenience this may cause to both residents and visitors
to the area.
Yours faithfully,
Huw Morgans
Principal Engineer Environment”

BACKGROUND

The Viewing Platform project was originally described as a Labour Party “Vanity Project” .

It’s understood that no geological surveys at all were carried out by the Labour Vale Council  before it commissioned its 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 (60 tonnes) of readymix concrete will be poured into them.

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 150 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 –  – but the ramparts were so high wheelchair users couldn’t see over them.

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 Burnett 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:  . The entire Penarth Head Park is closed to the public (it was later re-opened but the Viewing Platform was cordoned off.

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”   .

August 14 2018: The Penarth Head Park is re-opened but the Viewing Platform itself remained  closed-off to the public with metal barriers placed across both entrances. Surveyors engaged by the Vale of Glamorgan Council visit the Penarth Head Viewing Platform again to check on continuing cracking of the structure. A number of concerned local residents gathered at Penarth Head Park whilst the surveyors were at work.

A surveyor on an earlier visit to the area  erected a theodolite at the corner of Church Place and Clive Place

The platform  is estimated to weigh over 150 tonnes and had more than 84 tonnes of liquid concrete poured into foundations excavated into the fragile cliff top  – a third more than was originally quoted .

The viewing platform is just 8 feet from spiked railings along the cliff edge. The spikes had  safety covers put on them to prevent injury to potential suicide jumpers

The structure of dense and heavy engineering brick  was supposed to be built “8 feet” from the cliff edge – but was actually stands merely 12 inches from the top of the 200 foot precipice.

August 17th 2018: Surveyors make  what is understood to be their third or fourth visit to the structure. They discover that some of the monitoring equipment and gauges which they had placed in position on their first visit had fallen off because of the continued movement of the massive ramparts of the viewing platform. The beach 200 feet directly below the Viewing Platform remains open to the public.

The Vale Council brings in substantial metal crush barriers to beef up the failed post-and-wire fencing on which some of the wire has given way

September 11th 2018: The auxiliary post-and wire safety fence is reinforced with metal crush barriers   .  However – despite the chains and padlocks on the entrance  – it’s still easy to get onto the Viewing Platform by ducking under the side rails ….

Chained locked and barred. Public access to the Penarth Head Viewing platform is prohibited because it’s just too dangerous. – but it’s still easy to get onto the Viewing Platform

November 28th 2018 : The Vale of Glamorgan Council announces that “remedial work” is to be carried out by the original contractor under “instruction” from the council’s own engineers. No completion date is given and there is no reference to the cost of the project.

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Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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33 Responses to PENARTH HEAD VIEWING PLATFORM TO BE REPAIRED… “UNDER INSTRUCTION”

  1. Christopher David says:

    Made in the shape of Wales! How apt. Large overweight construction with impaired vision heading for a fall over a very high cliff. Tis the folly of Labour…..eh 🙂

    • Philip Rapier says:

      This lemming like amateurish folly epitomises in the extreme why the Vale of Glamorgan has no right to exist as an instrument of Local Government and why we should merge with Cardiff.

      I recently visited the Berlin Wall. A great symbol of the often fatal struggles against the evils of Communism. A preserved structure that these days presents an iconic glimpse of hope and is a good deal more pleasant to look at than the Vale’s pusillanimous example of cowboy builders bricklaying.

      The East German Commies had a lot in common with the Vale. Both shamelessly seeking power purely for its own sake and personal gain, ignoring the devastating cost to the community.

      Please dismantle this monstrosity and take a tip from the Berlin spivs by flogging off dodgy souvenir pieces of your Humpty Dumpty Wall to unsuspecting tourists.

  2. penarthblog says:

    All politicians, not being experts in everything, have to rely on advice from officials, therein lies the problems. They spend our money on things and sometimes, like in this instance, get it badly wrong. I would hope that lessons will have been learned.

  3. WTF says:

    A complete waste of public money not forgetting the fact it’s caused subsidence nearby.
    Vote Labour if you want Morons to run the show.

  4. OB says:

    Good money after bad — it would be better spent demolishing this vile, unloved monstrosity foisted on Penarth without consultation.

  5. sjleworthy says:

    I’ve an extra large prit-stik if they need it.

  6. max wallis says:

    Not only was there no consultation of Penarth people; the Council Engineer when meeting with nearby residents pre-survey said his section had not been consulted; the decision to approve the structure was taken by the (previous) head of Parks. The 8-foot away from the cliff edge is the general spec for setting back fencing; the set-back must be further for any long-lived structure. As their cautious approach would have ruled out such a huge ‘viewing platform’, little wonder why Neil Moore’s cabinet (with Lis Burnett the local member) omitted to consult the Engineers.

  7. Dr Cliff Crash says:

    Thank you Lis Burnett and Co, your really knew how to waste our money didn’t you!
    With any luck you and Neil Moore will never get back into power in the Vale again.
    Concentrate on your left wing twitter blogs at least then no harm can come to the rest of us.

  8. snoggerdog says:

    last sunday standing away from the cliff (tide out) you can see the top of the wall of ‘viewing platform’ i noticed to the right of it there were two large concrete slabs that have slipped two thirds of the way down the cliff,they werent there the week before.

  9. Ben Salter says:

    I wonder how much it would cost to demolish, and replace with a nice little shelter with some benches? Probably less than the repair bill….

  10. The Wildest Beast of All says:

    That letter to residents raises more questions than it answers.
    What do they mean by ‘remedial works’?
    If the cliff cannot sustain the weight of the thing, how can that be ‘remedied’ aside from removal of the structure? (And would removal take the cliff down?)
    It seems unlikely they can underpin the cliff and repointing that rather nasty zigzag crack isn’t going to ‘remedy’ anything in terms of ensuring the construction is stable and safe for the public.
    In my view, the building of that viewing platform has destabilised the cliff – of known friable formation – and those living so close by must be very worried.
    The council needs to be looking at the state of the ground in that area, not shoving a bit of cement in the gaps.

  11. Frank Evans says:

    Repaired 😥
    Remove it or better still just let it fall into the sea.
    Glad it wasn’t our money that was spent on it.
    Oh hang on……

  12. Andrew Worsley says:

    They wont stop its eventual demise , we are now heading into Winter and we wait to see if frost , ice or snow has any further effect on this folly or the ground supporting it but unstable.

  13. Scootergirl says:

    What a monstrosity, it needs to be demolished not repaired and waste any more money on it

  14. Ocobblepot says:

    If the “repair” fails …. then those that proposed this ridiculous idea and especially passed the ridiculous idea , should be held financially accountable.

  15. Walter Weiss says:

    Remedial work – just remove it.

  16. Jed says:

    Ha ha what a tale of council moronity, nimby over reach and general incompetence!
    People who live near the platform have no more
    Right to it’s future than anyone else!

  17. Dizzydeb says:

    I’m just watching The Apprentice. Any words spring to mind???
    Please knock it down, install some attractive benches, plant up and give this lovely quiet corner back to the people to enjoy.

  18. mikeyorke says:

    If I were the local residents, I’d be talking to a solicitor for when this thing falls of the cliff and the price of their properties plummets. (No pun intended)

  19. Mapk Fosterovich says:

    They think you’re stupid, and they’re not wrong. What possible benefit is there to the Tory Party to rebuild this?

    No, they’ve been instructed to do so by the Ministry of Defence and NATO. Its part of the defences for the Nuclear Submarine base in Cardiff Bay which will be needed when Scotland leaves the UK, along with the 50 tonne foundations for the benches/machine gun posts in Harbour View Road/Plassey Square, the Tank Road around the base of Penarth Head and the concrete block fortifications in front of the Captain’s Wife in Sully. I just wonder how they’re going to disguise the batteries at Lavernock Point.

    Its all to do with the Crimea referendum where 90% of the people decided to return to Mother Russia, and the coming possible war between NATO and Russia organised by the chocolate king Petro Poroshenko You’d better believe me Boyos.

  20. Le Compte says:

    Needs to be removed and benches =/- a shelter

  21. Mapk Fosterovich says:

    “Ukraine-Russia sea clash: Poroshenko urges Nato to send ships”

    See Boyos, I told u so.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46381166

  22. 92 and a social butterfly says:

    Please take it away

  23. George says:

    I don’t know the exact height but the cliff offers a good view out just standing on the grass. Adding a few feet to elevate the view seems pointless. The whole thing is pointless I want a refund on my council tax. In the c tax booklet they send out could they not but an adjustment alongside the costs whereby you get money back for stupidity.

  24. Andrew Worsley says:

    If this monstrosity is too dangerous for the public to use then it certainly is too dangerous for any workers attempting to make the thing safe . If they do attempt the impossible of trying to make the thing safe to use then they deserve to be paid ‘danger money’ . And may one as who is going to pay for this ATTEMPT ON THE IMPOSSIBLE ? As I said before no heavy machinery can be used , no pneumatic drills , no hammering the list goes on , and doing anything to the ground will only add to the danger. In short its just MISSION IMPOSSIBLE as a sop to public concerns.

    • Modom says:

      Andrew, I couldn’t agree more, this monstrosity cannot be ‘repaired’. It needs careful dismantling, and returned to the pleasant park it once was, with careful observation to the shifting cliff.

  25. Andrew Worsley says:

    Thank you Modom for your support on this issue, i’d just like to add a few words , this folly and monstrosity cannot I repeat cannot be even be removed without constant danger of the ground giving way at some stage taking everything including any workmen with it to certain death . If the fall does not kill them the falling earth , stones etc etc will. Id like to know how we are going to recover the money wasted on this unwanted , undiscussed , unapproved edifice foisted on the public . I think those who imposed this thing on this unstable site without full approval or a full survey of the area should think about paying the public back now they have wasted PUBLIC MONEY ON THIS UGLY AND DANGEROUS White Elephant.

  26. cogan nomen says:

    Give me permission and I will gladly remove it
    With my trusty lump hammer and booster.
    I would not remove the concrete as it
    Would disturb the stability of the cliff .

  27. G says:

    Having moved to Penarth within the last 18 months, I personally love the platform and have taken many visitors there for the view and the information provided. It’s always gone down well.

    Sometimes people take gambles and things go wrong, i’m sure we’ve all experienced that in our working lives.

    Hopefully they can re instate it so I can take future visitors there.

  28. Andrew Worsley says:

    Yes it will go down well G at some time in the near future! ,hopefully you wont be visiting it at the time.

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