The block of shops and flats currently known as Beachcliff was built by Victorian entrepeneur Frederick Speed in 1904.

Originally the block had private hotels at each end with the Gwalia Cafe situated at the southern end and Govier's restaurant at the northern end.

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 rectify it.

Then in January 2005 Decourcy Ltd a Bristol 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.

Then 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 way. However 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 potentially dangerous.

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 and where possible original materials recovered during the demolition phase were to be reused. However by the beginning of October no further development had taken place and the now totally derelict building was in a worse state than ever

Finally in February 2011 demolition work resumed. However 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.

Google Streetview