Monday, 29 July 2013

Fixing derelict sites

As well as having hot weather recently, the political temperature has also been rising with clashes at Prime Ministers Questions becoming ever more heated. But Parliament has now broken up for summer which is a good opportunity to get around the constituency and find out how people think things are going.

On Monday morning, I attended the opening of the new Coastline development opposite our offices at Trevenson Street in Camborne. I have always said that, when it comes to housing development, we should build on brown field sites before green field sites. Our towns have an extraordinary industrial heritage to be proud of but, in recent decades, they have also become blighted by derelict sites and sorting these out has been my priority, whether getting funding for Hayle Harbour or overcoming the obstacles on the old brewery site in Redruth.

Three years ago, the plans for a new housing development at Trevu Road caused concern among some residents in Camborne. This was the site of the old Holman Brothers factory and is historically significant for many in the town who worked there. But the whole site had been derelict for many years and had sadly become an eye sore right by the train station as people arrived in town.

The beautiful old Public Rooms building was the most important of all the remaining buildings but the most difficult to save. Used originally as a very large meeting hall for the whole town, the building was later bought by Holmans and used both for training apprentices and for housing a small museum. After the demise of Holmans I remember it being used briefly as a snooker hall but it became derelict and unused for many years. Its condition was so poor that it was about to fall down.

Despite local concerns about the plans three years ago, my view has always been that the only way you save old buildings like this is to find a new use for them and Coastline have done a fantastic job at proving my point on this site. As well as preserving and restoring many of the original architectural features, they have also created over 70 beautiful new homes for people who need a roof over their head. The eighteen flats in the Public Rooms building are occupied mainly by people over 50 who are looking to downsize and move closer to town and they are clearly very happy.

One of the residents I met was David who had spent most of his working career at Holmans and had an encyclopedic of knowledge about the site and lots of Holman memorabilia including a much sought after bi-centenary mug produced by the firm. I can't think of a more fitting use for the Public Rooms building today.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.