Thursday, 22 February 2018

Planning

Last week, plans for a controversial student village between the Treluswell and Treliever roundabouts were unexpectedly approved. Like many, I was surprised at this decision. After all, it had been recommended for refusal. I had opposed these plans because my own view is that we should be looking to the Kernick Industrial State, and the space that is available there to build student accommodation instead. We should always try to make use of brown field sites before losing more of our green spaces and local residents have already accommodated a lot to allow the university to grow.
 
There is no doubt that nationally we have a housing shortage.  A combination of population growth and issues like family breakdown means that many families are struggling to find a home that delivers their needs.  In Cornwall, the issue is exacerbated in some areas by second home owners.  So we do need to build more housing. 

However, I have always said that there should be a principle of building on brownfield sites before greenfield sites, especially around our towns.  Developments should also be done with communities not to them.
 
Plans to build 226 new dwellings at Menehay Fields, Budock, have also attracted criticism. A similar application was made in October 2013. It was refused by Cornwall Council and the appeal was dismissed. Cornwall Council have refused the plans this time, but the developer has chosen to appeal. I have written to the Housing Minister and asked that he takes the final decision in this appeal.
 
The decision at Budock is one of strategic importance, which threatens the continuation of Budock’s status as a village. The loss of green interface between Budock and Falmouth would effectively make Budock a suburb of Falmouth. Other more suitable locations have been found to meet local housing need. 

I was also surprised to learn this week that an application at Troon that has previously been turned down will be appealed. I will be writing to the Planning Inspectorate, and recommending that they uphold Cornwall Council’s decision to refuse the scheme.
 
When Cornwall Council were developing their local plan, I argued that we should make clear that brownfield sites in places like Tuckingmill and around South Crofty should be developed first. There should then be a delay in developing greenfield, urban extension sites around areas like Treswithian until we have completed a mid-term review in ten years’ time where we could take stock and reassess local housing need. This would ensure that developers didn’t simply cherry pick easy greenfield sites.
 
There are some good examples of successful housing developments on brownfield sites which are designed to be consistent with, and to celebrate, our industrial heritage. Coastline regenerated the old Holmans site at Trevu Road next to Camborne Train Station and saved the beautiful Holmans building at the same time. Linden Homes have done some excellent work at Pool on the site opposite Cornwall College. I was a strong supporter of the regeneration work started through the Heartlands project, and I was pleased that many homes there were offered through the “help to buy” scheme for first time buyers. 
 
However, I will continue to oppose large scale developments where they are planned for greenfield sites. Planning decisions will always be contentious and there are difficult balances to be struck.  I remain convinced that the basic principle of prioritising brownfield before greenfield development is the right approach.

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