Beachcliff work still on hold: Developer says latest delay is down to talks with 'high-profile chef'
ON HOLD: The site as it is today, two years since demolition work started and five years after planning permission was first granted.
THE ONGOING saga at the once iconic Beachcliff site on Penarth seafront rumbles on, more than two years after demolition work started on the redevelopment.
Its renovation has been dogged by delays since plans were first given the go-ahead by the Vale of Glamorgan Council in 2007.
New plans were approved for the site in 2010, but while the demolition phase of the £6 million project - which will see the construction of four luxury flats in the upper floors, plus a gym in place of the former Chandlers pub, and a restaurant/cafe - was completed at the turn of this year, little appears to have happened since then.
Director of development services at the Vale Council, Rob Thomas, called the delay ‘unfortunate’.
“Planning Permission was last approved for the development of the Beachcliff as four houses and a estaurant at the end of 2010,” he said.
“Since this time, the developer has been seeking to discharge the relevant requirements of the permission and has also submitted an ongoing building notice application for the works. It is unfortunate that the works have not progressed as initially expected.
“While the council does have powers to force completion of developments, these powers can only be exercised after five years have elapsed following the commencement of a scheme.
“In this case the council remains in contact with the developers and continues to stress the need for the proposals to be progressed."
Currently only the end towers of the old building are still standing, with the assistance of steel supports, and the site and part of the pavement remains fenced off.
But developer Richard Hayward said part of the recent delay is down to the decision to operate a fine dining restaurant from the site, with specific construction requirements.
"We are currently in discussions with a high profile chef who is very interested in operating a fine dining restaurant at Beachcliff," he said.
"We have been working closely with the chef to work out how best to accommodate his specific requirements in order to create a truly spectacular restaurant in keeping with such an important and high quality development.
"This has resulted in a review of some of the internal layouts, particularly on the ground floor which will have some impact on construction. Negotiations are now at an advanced stage and we will be in a position to start the build as soon as they are concluded.”
But one Penarth town councillor has called on the Vale Council to ‘sort out the mess’.
Anthony Ernest said a number of residents had complained to him about the lack of work at the Esplanade site, and the obstructions caused by ‘unsightly’ hoardings.
He said: “It is several months since work stopped, and yet the hoardings which occupy a substantial frontage along the esplanade remain in place.
“Not only is this totally unwarranted, but it also restricts the movements of visitors, who would like to enjoy walking along the seafront.
“I am calling on the appropriate Vale directors to take immediate action to have the hoardings, which obstruct the pavement, removed, and allow this frontage to be opened up once again.
“The developers must not be allowed to completely sterilise much of the esplanade by their failure to commence their multi-million pound development at this location, and the onus is now on the Vale to do something about it.”
The Vale Council's Rob Thomas told the Penarth Times: "Given the lack of recent progress, the council is currently considering its options in terms of the impact of the ongoing situation on the footway and highway that adjoins the site.”
Vale of Glamorgan Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, Cllr Lis Burnett, said she felt 'strongly' that the current state of the esplanade was 'testament to how little the previous Conservative Council thought of Penarth'.
"As Councillor Ernest is aware, we are already working with a range of people including the Pier Pavilion project, local businesses and the Penarth Tourism and Visitor Association as well as representatives of Penarth Town Council to look at what we can do now, and also what the future might hold for both the esplanade and the town as a whole,” she said.
“We know that the renovation of the Pavilion will pose a challenge for the Esplanade for the next year but hopefully by working together we will see a real difference by the time it reopens next October.
“In the meanwhile I would ask Penarth people to support the businesses on the Pier and Esplanade to make sure they are still there next year.”
The lack of progress on Beachcliff remains a concern for residents in the town.
One said: “Beachliff was, as recently as the early 1980s, a credit to the town and to the esplanade - nicely decorated, with thriving restaurants on the ground floor and the Penarth Town crest emblazoned at each end.
“Many people coming to Penarth may wonder what once stood on the now screened-off site.”
But Mr Hayward said there had been 'considerable interest' from buyers wanting to be part of Beachcliff.
“We are now working to convert this interest into firm reservations and having one of the best restaurants in South Wales on the doorstep will only enhance the desirability of the homes,” he added.
"We believe that a high quality, fine dining restaurant is the perfect use for the iconic building and takes full advantage of its idyllic location and stunning views across the Bristol Channel.
“We are very excited about this latest step in the Beachcliff story and can't wait to get on site to start building both the new restaurant and the new homes."