Penarth head viewing platform explained

28 May 2015

In recent weeks we have received a number of letters and social media comments about the new Penarth head viewing platform. A number of questions have been asked and so the Leader of the Council has written to a number of groups with the following to explain the project.

The Council has received grant assistance from Welsh Government over several years to provide and promote the Wales Coast Path.  In 2011 part of a two year grant from WG was used for a survey and design of the viewing platform. Welsh Government then declined to provide sufficient further funding to proceed with the project and as a result the proposal was not progressed. 

It was recognised at that time that the Wales Coast Path is a unique feature of Wales which promoted and improved routes available around the entire coast. The Council has embraced this as a tourism opportunity, using Welsh Government grant to create new and improved stretches of path along its coast and links from the Coast Path to locations where visitors can enhance their walk to the benefit of the local economy.  The coast path in the Vale is one of the best in Wales, and is an opportunity to not only promote healthy lifestyles but also attract new and repeat tourism.

Similarly, as the Council is keen to exploit the tourism opportunity, the Council has considered other programmes and projects in the context of the Wales Coast Path.  In the Western Vale for instance, Coastal Communities Grant has been secured to create jobs within businesses delivering coastal activities, and Rural Development Plan for Wales funding has rolled out new interpretation on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.  Aware of the potential footfall from walkers of the path, including those walking across the Barrage from Cardiff, the Council has been keen to ensure visitor footfall and hence spend in Penarth.

The Penarth Tourism and Visitor Association suggested a landmark feature at Penarth Head Park, and as stated above the Council secured Welsh Government grant in 2012 to carry out a survey and create a design for a viewing platform which would enrich visitor experiences.  The design is based on the Wales Coast Path logo, the ‘shell’ shape being used to create a seating area.

In 2014 the Council identified new grant aided regeneration funds and decided to press ahead with a number of regeneration projects in Penarth, focussing on the coastal area as a tourism asset, which included improvements to Cliff Hill and the cliff top car park.

The final design is a raised feature to improve visibility and is part of a suite of works that are currently unfinished.  It will include interpretations of coastal features as well as further landscaping.  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 and many other locations around Penarth including the limestone and shale layers, laid down in latest Triassic and early Jurassic times, seen on local beaches, which is famous for its fossils, especially ammonites.

The boundary gates have been refurbished, and footpath improvements are also programmed, along with new and additional benches for the area.  The coast path themed seating has been finished with a mosaic pattern by a local artist, Maureen O’Kane.

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.