block of shops and flats currently known as
Beachcliff was built by Victorian entrepeneur
the block had private hotels at each
with the Gwalia Cafe situated at the
southern end and Govier's restaurant at the
For many years
the building was owned by
the Rabaiotti family and was home to a
series of restaurants
some of which operated very successfully. But Beachcliff
eventually became a very troubled building.
In July 2003
concerns about the structural
integrity of parts of the frontage of the
building led to green netting being draped
across the upper storeys. And there it stayed
the condition of the building having
deteriorated beyond the ability of the owners to
Then in January 2005
based development company submitted a planning
application to demolish the building and replace
it with a new cafe quarter complex at ground
floor level with apartments above. Following
intense lobbying against the proposals by local
activists over a period of several months
together with mounting planning difficulties
the developer finally quit the project and we
ended up right back where we started.
in August 2007
the local press reported
that the building had been purchased
from the Rabaiotti family by Cardiff based
developer RH Properties. Scaffolding was
then erected around most of the building as the developer
began essential repair work. A formal
planning application was submitted which would provide luxury flats in
the upper floors
with the Chandlers pub and
restaurant on the ground floor being replaced by
a gymnasium facility. However
the proposal was
intended to retain the character of the exterior
of the building.
By February 2010
most of the ground floor
establishments had been closed in preparation
for the start of development
and by May 2010
the preparatory demolition work was well under
concerns quickly grew that much
more of the building seemed to be being
demolished than had originally been anticipated.
The developer confirmed that serious structural
defects had been found and that their experts
had advised that the building could be
Development then stopped
during negotiations between the developer and
the Council planning department until in August
2010 it was announced that a revised planning
application was being submitted. The objective
of maintaining the original appearance of Beachcliff's facade
was to remain central to the plan
recovered during the demolition phase were to be
by the beginning of October
further development had taken place and the now
totally derelict building was in a worse state
than ever Google Streetview
in February 2011
it was not long before work
again halted when it emerged that stonework on
the retaining wall that forms the rear boundary
of the site was loose. There was also
overhanging vegetation and both these matters
had to be resolved before work could proceed. It
was several months before the legal and
contractual procedures were settled and work
eventually started on the retaining wall at the
end of September 2011. This work was estimated
to take 12 weeks and was finally completed in May 2012, thus enabling work to
recommence on the main development of the building.
However, there was very little progress on the building through 2012 and concern grew that such an important seafront site was being left as a building site.
During this period, the property once eventually built was marketed by the internationally renowned estate agents, Savills. The new design was for
four luxury town houses with the building frontage broadly retaining its original profile.
Work finally restarted in February 2013 and continued through the Spring and early Summer.
In April 2013 it was revealed that the internationally renowned chef, James Sommerin, intended to open a restaurant in Beachcliff and then in July, it was announced that
an application had been made to change the use of part of the building above the restaurant from a town house to a small boutique hotel. Given the shortage of good quality visitor
accomodation in Penarth coupled with the outstanding reputation of Mr Sommerin, these proposals were viewed as being very exciting developments for the Esplanade.
Eventually, in May 2014, the new restaurant finally opened, having already built up several hundred pre-bookings.
In early 2016, the boutique hotel element of the Beachcliff complex opened and immediately gained a 5 star rating from Visit Wales.
The James Sommerin restaurant went from strength to strength and in October 2016, having already been named as the AA Best Restaurant in Wales,
achieved the prestigious Michelin Star award.
Sales of the residential accomodation appeared to do less well, but in Spring 2017, a new bakery was created alongside the restaurant.
We will continue to follow progress with great interest.
A link to the latest Google Streetview is provided below but please be aware that this may be somewhat out of date.