A FORGOTTEN garden area lost in time - providing ‘unparalleled views of the Esplanade, Penarth Pier and the Bristol Channel’ - has been renovated by the Vale Council.

Sitting 50 foot above the promenade and running the length of the Beachcliff site, the area in Windsor Gardens has been refurbished, alongside repairs to the supporting wall, after more than 100 years according to a local historian.

Alan Thorne believes the area was originally attached to the Beachcliff estate - currently subject to a stop-start £6 million redevelopment into luxury flats and a gym facility - as the personal gardens of the private residents, accessed by walkways, each with their own gate into Windsor Gardens behind.

He estimates they would have been built around 1904, but hidden from public view first by Beachcliff and then by undergrowth.

"I had a friend who lived in the Beachcliff estate and we used to use the walkway and the garden - which is where most residents kept their washing lines - as our gateway to Penarth," said Mr Thorne.

"Windsor Gardens was handed over to Penarth by the Windsor family which was, I imagine, when the council assumed control of the supporting wall - and perhaps, the garden area above it."

According to the local authority the area has been made ‘safe to use’ - at a cost of £200,000 from council funds.

Phil Beaman, operational manager for parks and grounds maintenance, said: "The council's facing wall behind Beachcliff has not been accessible for a number of years.

"With the demolition of Beachcliff there was a duty and an opportunity to effect repairs to the facing wall of Windsor Gardens. This wall needed rebuilding and repointing to make it safe.

"The garden area above the facing wall in Windsor Gardens was refurbished to make the area safe to use. This involved rebuilding walls, and replacing the steps and paving."

Local resident Sam Warburton said he did not even realise the area was there.

"I was quite amazed when I saw the area above the wall," he said.

"It must have become lost in the undergrowth. It’s incredible to think that there are age-old areas of Penarth that people are unaware of, but it seems to have come out of nowhere.

"It would be lovely for Penarthians to enjoy the splendid work the council has carried out until the new development of the old Beachcliff site goes ahead and renders the park, I would think, intrusive on the residents’ privacy."

But another resident, who asked not to be named, said they had heard there would be no public access to the site.

"Workmen on the site told me that the council intends to keep this expensive new patio area locked and barred to the public - which seems strange given the amount of work and money invested," they said.

"I hope this isn’t the case as it provides unparalleled views of the Esplanade, Penarth Pier and the Bristol Channel."

However Mr Beaman said this wasn’t the case, and added that in order to make the site accessible to the public, safety fencing had been installed.

"All materials used were selected to conform to the vernacular material of the gardens," he added.

"The paving material, although good looking, is not stone but concrete paving and the fencing is mild steel not wrought iron. This was chosen to give the wrought iron effect.

"The project has cost £200,000 paid for by the council and the area will be open once works have been completed - expected to be by the end of April 2012.

"At this time the refurbished area will be open for public use."