You must forget there is a pre-app for Shute Lane/Harbour Rd complex

In true Men in Black style residents and readers of this blog must totally forget a previous post on a pre-app for development of Shute Lane/Harbour Rd. It did not happen.

It did not happen as you should not know this pre-app was being discussed and how I as the local Councillor should not have informed the public about this. Well, this is according to the applicant, who sent me a rather curt email (which I replied to) me that I had somehow ‘breached what is normal practice by placing a pre-application in the public realm and in doing so, you have deliberately prejudiced further discussion.’

The trouble with this is the applicant failed to ‘tick the’ confidential box in the pre-app, therefore, by the rules, a pre-app is a public document and as the local Cornwall Councillor I am well within my rights of keeping the public informed. It was also on the public planning portal…

However, I must now ask you to forget this pre-app as the applicant has now ‘ticked’ the confidential box and this pre-app is no longer a public document. So you MUST forget it.

If an application does indeed come forward, you MUST all act very surprised as you have not seen it before. The following pictures are a figment of your imagination and you have just dreamed it.

Thank you…

 

 

Pre-app for a building complex for Harbour Rd and Shute Lane

Ok, I hope you are sitting when you see this, but following on from the Shipyard application, there is another application for another large building that will fundamentally change the harbour area. The pre-app plan is for a merchant hall, shops, artist lofts, restaurant, 10 flats, a tower and what looks like a ‘gate house’.

This is not a full application, but a pre-application which aims to establish the principle of development and what could be accepted in an area. The development of this area is nothing new, as there was plans for this site back in 2000.

For those who do not know what a pre-app is, basically, an applicant puts in their plans (have to pay for it) and they are given advice on whether it would be acceptable in planning terms. From this advice, the applicant can then submit a plan with any changes (or not) that have been suggested. It is important to note, there are no public comments, but I wanted to let residents know.

Pre-apps are generally public documents to view, and details on this pre-app can be found HERE

Harbour Rd view


The floor plan


The view along Shute Lane

A packed public meeting to hear about amended plans for the Porthleven Shipyard

The dust has settled from Monday night’s public meeting where over 130 people gathered to hear about the amended plan for the recently refused building in the Shipyard.

The plan for the event was for the planning officer to outline the amended plans and then the applicant to give their reasons as to why the application – when it is submitted – should be supportive.

The planning officer was quite quick with his part and then it was over to Mr. Osborne to give us his vision of Porthleven, including his achievements for over 40 years. There is no denying Mr. Osborne has helped create a vibrant place, but he hasn’t done this single-handedly and as it was pointed out by at least one resident, it is not buildings that make a place, it is people.

Everyone will have a viewpoint on the building and those views are subjective depending on how you see things. My view (and I’ve been involved in planning for near 12 years) is I find the design disjointed and with no clear rationale of what it is trying to be. It is a tower loosely attached to a box. In merits of design, rather than complement the area which a bold building can do, it lacks the sympathy and understanding of this historic area of Porthleven.

The footprint of the proposed building is smaller as is the height – slightly. However, the access entering the site and through the site hasn’t really been addressed and the previous concerns still stand. A positive in the reduction of the footprint is there looks like more room for boats to be secured/de-rigged prior to launch/retrieval. Which is good news for boat-owners and was a major concern.

Whilst it can be good to have a different style of building, its use and the longevity of the building is as important as the design.

This building has no clear or firm use. The buildings journey has been a coffee manufacturer, cafe, bar/food place, Art studios (were people were offered space for support), gallery to now an innovation hub. What happens next week or if planning consent is given, will this use change again? There are no guarantees what we have been told so far will actually be delivered.

This is why I raised the issue that some sort of economic impact assessment should be carried out to prove the use of the building which could also highlight rents (as a young artist pointed out at the site meeting would be too expensive to rent) and whether there the need for a certain business type. Do we really need another restaurant or art studio if the latest use of an innovation hub does not materialise?

For those who are not aware what an innovation hub is, these are generally used to allow start-ups to thrive for a couple of years before they move into bigger premises. They are not long term rentals and they generally have to be subsidised by grants. Yes, used right, they are great, but they come with lots of risk and many of these hubs no longer carry out their original function.

The objection from the Porthleven Fishermen’s and Boat-owners Association was – loosely – covered by Mr. Osborne when he announcing the Association was now in support of the amended plans. It did have to be pointed out to Mr.Osborne whereas in fact, the truth is the Association has not given support, but has said it would not object to the plan if certain conditions on access and boat launching/retrieval were in place and conditioned in legally binding planning terms. That is anyone’s book is a vastly different to supporting.

However, this sudden acknowledgement of the ‘support’ of the Association goes totally against the recent letter I have seen where Mr Osborne no longer officially recognises the Porthleven Fishermen’s Association. In fact he wanted to set up his own association, but I hear no-one wanted to join. You cannot really claim support from an organisation when you have refused to acknowledge its existence a few weeks beforehand.

Mr. Osborne highlighted the new toilet faculties and bus stop and was critical of the Shute Lane toilets and how his new facility would be so much better. A new toilet is better, I would support more toilets in Porthleven. But who would pay for them?

The simple answer is Mr. Osborne wants the town council to pay for them. I know this, as he asked me (I told him he needed to officially request it as this is a town council matter) if the money spent on Shute Lane could be transferred to his company to run these toilets. If this happened, then there would be no need to run Shute Lane and they could close as they would be surplus because we have new shiny ones. As part of the deal the old block could be transferred to Mr. Osborne. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes know why, but if you cannot guess, it might have something to do with his planned development of this area HERE. It will be a little hard to do when you have a large toilet block in the way which is not in your ownership.

Lastly, there is still the issue of the previous application. The applicant has six-months from the refusal decision to appeal. As yet nothing has been submitted. But if this latest plan is granted, what is to stop Mr. Osborne from submitting the original as the principle of planning has been established and its a lot harder to refuse something when a similar building has been passed.

I am pleased this public meeting took place as it gave the platform to hear the views of everyone who wanted to say something in a respectful manner. Thanks to Cornwall Council’s Planning Dept. for running this meeting. This blog post is my view and how you need to look at this more strategically and be wary of promises.

The Ego has Landed – the Porthleven Shipyard Building – Progress or Folly?

The new building being proposed for the Shipyard in Porthleven has split public opinion, As if you look at the number of objections and supporters on Cornwall Council’s planning portal there are 27 objections and 26 supporting the application – details can be found HERE. It is important to note, it is not too late to make comment.

The current view

This building will change Porthleven. I firmly believe this change will not be for the better. The building is huge, it will dominate the area, and will have a very negative impact on the very fabric which makes Porthleven Harbour so special.

In trying to defend this huge building, the applicant, Mr. Osborne says this building only takes up 7.8% of the overall Shipyard. This is wholly misleading, as much of the shipyard is already developed, cannot be developed due to restrictions by South West Water or is used by existing businesses. Therefore its impact is far greater than if it was an open space. The development is a substantially higher proportion of the actual free space in The Shipyard.

In previous blog posts I highlighted just how big this building will be. I measured out the site and showed the height – in a rather crude way – but it did nonetheless show just how big this building will be. I have now commissioned an architect  to draw me the building in scale, using the measurements and elevations in the submitted plans to show the true impact of this building. It is massive and blots out St. Barts.

Now you have seen the building institu (colours might not be 100% accurate) is this something you really want? If you do not want to see this built, you need to make comment to Cornwall Council.

The application number is PA17/00573. You can make comment by emailing planning@cornwall.gov.uk quoting the planning reference in the title. Or using the online portal to make comments. This can be found HERE 

One of the issues with this plan is the serious lack of parking provision on this site. Anyone will know parking spaces are at a premium in Porthleven. The car park nearest the harbour is well used and full during many parts of the year. Plus, it is a known fact commuters will not pay for parking daily and will seek to park elsewhere for free.

Mr Osborne’s response to mitigate the lack of parking is he will build a new car park at Tolponds. However, this fictional car park is over half a mile away; has no formal planning application, or even an application submitted for a car park. Or even a guarantee it will even be built.

Furthermore there is no guarantee any planning application would be granted. You cannot base one planning application on another that has not even been submitted or granted to mitigate against this large and wholly inappropriate building that will have long lasting consequences on the fabric of what makes Porthleven so special.

If somehow all the hurdles of a car park application are overcome, it would also need substantial and costly highways improvement to make pedestrians safe. As the road linking the car park and the settlement is a 60mph zone and there is no pathway linking it to the main settlement of Porthleven – just road. It is inconceivable pedestrians would use this car park as it would not be safe to walk to and from it. Therefore, this car park cannot be used a mitigating factor on the lack of parking facility in the Shipyard.

If this building is built, it is the end of the Shipyard, there is no real way back for it. The next question is where do the boats go? Yes, Mr Osborne has a plan, and that is to use the ‘new car park’ for boats. This raises an interesting point. Is this a car park to mitigate the lack of parking in the building proposal or the removal of well used and needed boat storage and maintenance? To accommodate both, this car park will need to be massive, far bigger than the land available along Tolponds.

In an idea to link the car park and town Mr Osborne suggested a scheme like Boris’ Bikes in London. This cannot be taken as a serious mitigating factor as this type of facility could not be accessible to all. For instance, those with disabilities, young children and older people would find it difficult and people would be unlikely to use this if there was a charge.

Would every visitor to Porthleven have to bring cycle helmets and high-vis clothing, or would this be supplied too? Think of the danger posed by hundreds of inexperienced cyclists on this already busy, fast and totally unsuitable road. It is a recipe for a tragic incident

I urge people to act now before it is too late and make their views known. Otherwise ‘Project Porthleven’ will happen and we will have to live with many monstrous buildings -like the building proposed on Shute Lane – which will change Porthleven forever. I am all for progress, but this progress should not be down to one persons vision – who lives elsewhere too.

 

 

Porthleven Town Council to take over Harbour Rd Toilets

Porthleven Town Council is set to take over the ownership and running of the toilets near the Institute on Harbour Road. This is because Cornwall Council decided to stop funding them, and therefore if no-one took them over, they would close and the building would be sold-off.

I am pleased the town council has decided to run these toilets, as to lose them would be terrible for Porthleven. As part of the deal, the town council will be given for a nominal fee (£1) the freehold of the toilets. These toilet will also have a full refurbishment to the standard which the town council is happy with. That means the town council will be operating a ‘as new’ facility. Funding the Harbour Rd toilets will also have a very minimal impact on the town council’s precept.

The remaining toilet at Shute Lane will remain in the control of Cornwall Council who will continue to fund them. Though I very much doubt it will get a makeover. However, these toilets were also offered to the town council on the same terms as Harbour Rd, but also with a one-off grant of around £8,000.

You might think this was a good deal, but I do not think it was, and I gave my recommendation that the town council should not take them over. The main reason is the grant was just for one years running cost, after that the town council would have to fund them via the precept. That is a lot of money just to add onto the precept.

It would also be pointless to take them over as Cornwall Council has deemed the Shute Lane toilets strategically important, and therefore will continue to fund them. So what would be the point in the town council taking them over when they are safe from closure.

It might have been more logical if Cornwall Council offered a better financial settlement, but they would not. This is despite the Town Clerk and myself highlighting this and asking for a better settlement. Just offering a one year grant is in my view very shortsighted. Maybe if they offered five, then maybe the deal to take the toilets over would have been more attractive to the town council. After all, Cornwall Council will still have to find the £8,000 a year. Yes it would have been more money in the short-term, but in years six and beyond, Cornwall Council would have reduced a liability.

In the meantime, the town council will be meeting with representatives from Cornwall Council to start the handover process and agree on the schedule for the refurbishment.

Porthleven’s Diamond Jubilee Picnic in the Park

On Tuesday 5th June, Porthleven will be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee with a picnic in the park. This is open to everyone to come and enjoy and share the great community spirit Porthleven has. Lots is planned throughout the day, so there will be no chance of being bored.
The main events of the day are as follows:
  • Midday – Mayor of Porthleven opens the event
  • 12:05 – 1pm Porthleven Town Band will entertain you.
  • 1pm -1:30pm Porthleven School’s Choir. This is their world exclusive performance!2pm – 3pm Children’s games, with medals and prizes
  •  1.45 – 2.15pm – Jubilee cake competition judging
  • 3pm – 4pm Porthleven’s Jubilee Tug of War competition
  • 4:15pm – Jubilee Crown Parade
  • 5pm – The end of this marvellous event

Even though there are some key events taking place you can also just chill out and listen to at least 5 different artists entertaining you with their songs.

For the children (and adults) you can have your faced painted in Jubilee colours or make a  Jubilee crown which will be judged and prizes awarded for the best crown. Also, the children will be able to bounce to their hearts content on the bouncy castle, or have a go at being a Sumo wrestler, or test their skills on the surf machine! All these will be free!

In the Marquee there will be a bar provide by the Atlantic Inn, Pasty’s from the Horse and Jockey Bakery, and cream teas from Nauti-but-Ice.

There will also be two toilets on site to save you the walk home, or to the public toilets at Shute Lane.

So, pack a blanket, bring a picnic and enjoy what will be a very memorable day that will be remembered for years to come. Lastly, there will be a prize for the best dressed jubilee person!

The Facebook Page:

 

PIP Strikes Again at Peverell Terrace Steps

PIP, or to give its full title Pride in Porthleven took to the streets to make Porthleven a little more beautiful. This time the target was the steps leading down from Peverell Terrace to Shute Lane. Even though these steps are the responsibility of Cornwall Council (who maintain them infrequently), PIP decided to help by removing all the overgrown bushes, weeds and litter from this area.

In just over an hour the PIP volunteers cut back, cleaned, weeded and swept the area. Which made the area look fantastic. Thanks must go to those who took part. If you fancy helping next time you can either just turn up at the advertised location, or contact me, or Demelza on 574270.

 

Porthleven Town Council and the Public Toilets

Last Thursday, Porthleven Town Council met to discuss various issues one being the ‘offer’ from Cornwall Council to take over the running of the two public toilets in Porthleven. Knowing Porthleven Town Council I know they do not like being threatened. (see previous blog HERE).

The Mayor started off by saying the tone of the letter was very curt, and if the tone of ‘take it or leave it’ was consultation, then it is a disgrace. The debate by the town council covered how much extra monies would have to be set aside if they took them on.

Also, the council were very concerned by the costs provided by Cornwall Council on running these facilities; they just did not add up. The council contacted a cleaning company to get a rough cost on how much cleaning these two toilets once per day. It was £1000 more than Cornwall Council had quoted.

Maintenance was another area that had a figure plucked from the sky. I know this because it took me quite a while to get the many defects fixed; this added up to more than the £1000 quoted by Cornwall Council.

With all these views aired a vote was taken by the town council on the ‘offer’ from Cornwall Council. The town council voted unanimously to reject the offer because of the information provided was felt to be inaccurate, and Cornwall Council is forcing this service onto town council’s without any consultation.

This vote of rejection allowed me to present my motion of a petition for Cornwall Council to carry on funding of the two public toilets. The motion is as follows:

“We the undersigned believe that Cornwall Council should continue to fully
fund the two public toilets in Porthleven, located at Shute Lane and Harbour
Road”.

This motion was fully supported by the town council who totally agreed with the points. This petition will be launched at the end of this week, and will carried out under Cornwall Council own petition rules. Click HERE for those rules. Basically anyone can sign the petition as long as they live, work, or study in Cornwall (including children and young people) and the petition has at least 25 signatures. This petition will also be available online.

Maybe now Cornwall Council will listen and change its mind to cutting the funding to 114 toilets in Cornwall.

Holding a Gun to the Head on Public Toilets

Right, just when I thought there was a ceasefire on hostilities to the proposed cuts in funding to 114 public toilets as blogged about HERE. It seems whilst everyone was waiting to see what happen; letters were being sent to town and parish council basically saying take them over or else. Don’t believe me, read for yourself the letter sent to Porthleven Town Council (the first part of the letter is the standard introductions).

“The outcome of this review is that Cornwall Council can offer a grant for the public conveniences that have been identified to be “Retained”. Unfortunately, those public conveniences that are not on the retained list will no longer be funded”


Hang on a minute, I thought no decision had been made, but this letter says they ‘will no longer be funded’.

“The grant will consist of 100% funding for the current fixed costs and a 50% grant for the current cleaning costs. From our discussions with a number of Town and Parish Councils it is believed that locally managed cleaning would be significantly less expensive than the current service provided”

Interestingly, there is no mention of how long this grant will last for apart from in a small spreadsheet which says 2011/12. Also, is it telling we must pay a lower wage to someone locally managed? Does this mean locally managed people work for less, or Cornwall Council pays too much?


Now, for the grant offered:

Shute Lane

  • 2010/11 costs £8342.13
  • 2011/12 amended costs £8,342.13 (includes cleaning costs £2,886.67)
  • Grant available £6,898.80
Harbour Road
  • 2010/11 costs £5,524.07
  • 2011/12  No funding
  • Grant available £0

 The current funding of two toilets equates to £13,866.20, but Cornwall Council wants Porthleven to do this for £6,898.80. A drop of  nearly £7k. This is just the running costs and does not take into account any maintenance or worse damage.  It gets worse in the next part of the letter.

While, the overall grant will remain constant, there maybe some flexibility on which public conveniences in your area are retained and those for which funding will cease. Unfortunately, if your council cannot agree these terms, further reductions in the provision of public conveniences will be likely.

Whoa…. Have I read this wrong; or does it really say take this offer or else?  The letter is finished off with the coup-de-grace:
This is our final offer and 

This proposal is subject to final ratification by Cabinet on 14th December 2011.

Now, Porthleven Town Council has to decide what it is going to do.  Either telling Cornwall Council where to go, or work up a budget that includes the missing running costs, and any additional costs that running a toilet will need. Considering the town council generally only meets once a month on the second Thursday; which is TODAY! It could (and properly have to) arrange another extraordinary meetings to deal with this fast-ball from Cornwall Council.
Tonight’s meeting of the town council is likely to be very interesting…..

Closing Public Toilets in Cornwall

Tomorrow, at the Economy and Environment Scrutiny meeting there is an agenda item that is going to cause quite a bit of a stir. This is the long awaited and feared report into the future of the Cornwall Council owned public toilets.

It should be said the working group set up by this committee has worked really hard to come up with something within the set budget. When you have to lose over £1.1 million from a budget there is going to be some tough choices.

However, the report makes for some unpleasant reading for many areas. This is because listed in the report are numerous toilets that are recommended for closure. Out of the current 248 council owned toilets 114 are set to close.

Porthleven which has two toilets will lose one. In the report the recommendation is for the toilet near the Institute (Harbour Rd) to close, saving just over £5k per year. The Shute Lane toilet has so far escaped closure.

I shall be attending tomorrow’s meeting to argue to the case for both toilets to remain open because of the high visitor numbers Porthleven attracts over the year, but for residents too. Also, the toilet near the Institute is right next to a popular beach. Any closure of either toilet will have a negative impact on Porthleven.

In Helston, Trengrouse Way and the Monument toilets are earmarked for closure. This will no doubt be met with fury in Helston. In fact, many areas in Cornwall will see less toilets open.

For any of the ear-marked toilets to remain open the town and parish council would have to take them over. This would result in a higher precept being set, but no reduction in the over all Cornwall Council council tax. In other words it could be seen as double taxation.

Public toilets and the ability to access them are an important provision. These are not only used by the residents of Cornwall, but the many million who visit Cornwall.

Lets hope there is a change of heart at tomorrows meeting and we can save most if not all of these toilets.

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