Porthleven Shipyard building approved at the fourth attempt

Depending on which side of the fence you sit, you will either be happy this building has been approved, or like me, very sad a building will be built which will have more harm to the fabric of Porthleven than good. As today, the West Planning Committee approved the plans by 11 votes to 4 on the fourth attempt.

Both myself as the Cornwall Council and Porthleven Town Council objected to this building on the grounds that it was:

  • The proposed development is not in harmony in terms of shape, scale, massing, bulk and proportions with the existing character and appearance of the area
  • The proposed development does not protect or enhance the character and appearance of the area
  • The proposed design does not respond positively to the Porthleven Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy
  • There is high number of objections raised by the local community over 100 with only 6 supporting.

I am also concerned that this application was re-heard at committee with only minor changed to the previously refused applications. All we have had is a letter from someone who has been paid by the applicant but was author to the original appraisal strategy, and the colour of the windows being changed from dark/black to white. Hardly real material changes to an already refused planning application. But this was enough for the committee to change its mind, but also, more importantly the conservation office who said having white windows will be less harmful. I know. Nothing about the scale and design of the building being harmful.

The use of the building is not clear. In the planning process, the building has been everything and nothing with claims of creating over 70 jobs, to the latest plan of only 20. In the previous identical application, it was 70 plus. It is not clear if these jobs are actually new jobs, or relocated jobs from existing properties owned by the applicant. There has been no business plan or impact assessment to prove the need vs the harm this building will bring.

Conservation and ANOB areas are important. They are to there to give a level of protection to conserve and enhance an important area. Not to be used to support having less substantial harm upon the heritage asset within the locality. Even the applicants planning agent letter of the 18th July says little substantial harm. In anyone’s definition, substantial harm abet how much, is not meaning conserve or enhance. If there was no harm you would say this, not little substantial harm. You either have harm or not.

As for the 100 plus people who took the time to object (and those 6 who supported) little weight was given to those points. I felt it was like they were not event taken into consideration.

Thanks go to John Boyle who spoke against the application at committee and to Cllr Mike Toy who represented Porthleven Town Council. Thanks to the four Councillors who voted against this applications

Not sure on the time scale, but I would imagine it won’t be long till the diggers move in and start to build this building that we are all going to have to live with.

 

 

Object to the Shipyard Application before it is too late.

The battle over the innovation-come-restaurant-come-unclear use building is still being fought. The building has been refused twice at committee stage, but with a slight change to the windows, a fourth incarnation of this building is winding its way through the planning system.

I have read the comment on Facebook and I am heartened to see so many comments that are supporting refusal. However, by commenting on Facebook will not stop this application from being approved. As people need to let planners and councillors on the planning committee this proposal is not wanted.

For this application to stand a chance of being refused, please take the 5 or 10 minutes to make you comment via the planning system by either online, email or in good old-fashioned letter form. Not just post on Facebook and think you have done your part. Ironically, it probably took longer to post on FB than it would via the official means. You could even cut and paste your comments from FB into an email etc.

The online way is via HERE or email planning@cornwall.gov.uk using the planning reference number in the header – PA18/06813

I have seen a few comments to ask how to object on planning terms. These three simple reasons are valid for any objection:

  • The proposed development is not in harmony in terms of shape, scale, massing, bulk and proportions with the existing character and appearance of the area;
  • The proposed development does not protect or enhance the character and appearance of the area;
  • The proposed design does not respond positively to the Porthleven Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy.

These points have formed the strong reasons for refusal(s) at the committee.

I ask you what would you prefer, take 5-10 minutes to make your objection known or having to look at the building for the next 50 plus years and wish it was never there. Once it is there, you cannot undo it. I know what I would rather do than see something that will result in harm to our much-loved Porthleven.

For a more in-depth objection you could use these reasons as follows:

The proposed development would, due to its scale, bulk and form, result in an imposing building which would fail to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and wider appreciation of Porthleven within the AONB landscape and harm the setting and appearance of non-designated heritage assets namely St Bartholomew Church and the stone boundary wall fronting Methleigh Bottoms.

The less than substantial harm identified would outweigh the benefits of the proposal and the development would be contrary to the aims of Policies 1, 2, 12, 23 and 24 of the Cornwall Local Plan Strategic Policies 2010-2030, paragraphs 7, 14, 17, 56, 57, 58,115, 126, 127, 131 and 135 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2012, guidance within the Porthleven Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy and Cornwall AONB Management Plan 2016-2021 and Section 72 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Area) Act 1990.

(Of course for those supporting this application are able to give supporting comments too).

Porthleven Shipyard building turned down for the second time.

For the last two-years Trevor Osborne has tried to build in the Porthleven Shipyard. The first application to be submitted, was rightly refused by the West Planning Committee last October for a variety of reasons.

Fast forward six-plus-months and the latest incarnation of the building was on the agenda for a decision at the same Committee. The footprint of the building is smaller, as is the bulk. The entrance that was proposed along Methleigh Bottoms has also been removed.

However, the same fundamental reasons the town council and myself have objected to is:

  • The proposed development is not in harmony in terms of shape, scale, massing, bulk and proportions with the existing character and appearance of the area;
  • The proposed development does not protect or enhance the character and appearance of the area;
  • The proposed design does not respond positively to the Porthleven
    Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy.

A further point is the buildings use. Whilst the aim is for some sort of innovation hub, details are not clear of the functions of such a building, especially when many hubs have to diversify to make them financially viable.

To be clear myself or the Town Council are not anti-development. But any development has to be more beneficial to a community than harmful. On balance, this buildings is more the latter.

After a robust debate, two councillors (Councillors Graham Coad and Mike Thomas) proposed approval. However, all was not lost, and a series of Councillors spoke against the applications.

A vote was taken for approval, but it was lost 7-8. Therefore, the motion for approval was lost. The next motion was for refusal put forward by Cllr Joyce Duffin. This motion was carried by 8-7. Which means the application was refused.

The applicant has the right of appeal, but this has to be done within six-months of the decision notice. The previous decision from October has passed the the six-months window, and therefore, my understanding is this application cannot be appealed.

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.

Reminder for the Public Meeting for the Shipyard Application

On Monday, at the Porthleven Public Hall, there is going to be a public meeting where those attending will have the chance to give their views on the amended plans for the Shipyard building. This meeting starts at 6pm.

Details about the application can be found HERE on a previous blog post.

It is very important those interested in this application not only attend, but give their views too. As this meeting will very much influence any planning application that may come forward.

You can also read more detail about this meeting HERE.

Public Meeting for the Shipyard building amended plans

It might not come as a surprise, but there has been an amended plan submitted for the proposed building in the Shipyard. Details of the amended plans can be found HERE. The planning reference number is: PA17/03371/PREAPP

This application is slightly smaller to the previous application, but what sets this apart from the previous is the applicant has entered into a Pre-application Community Engagement Forum (PACE) for the public to have their say at a public meeting.

In liaising with planning officers on this and the previous application, I welcome this PACE meeting as this way the public have a forum to give their views – whether for or against – prior to this application going through the planning process. Rather than having to request a site meeting at the planning committee meeting.

This PACE meeting will take place on the 5th Feb at 6pm at the Porthleven Public Hall. No matter what your stance is on this application, I urge as many people to attend to give their views.

However, just because there is a new application in, the original plan which was refused by Cornwall Council can still be appealed. As the applicant has the right of appeal for up to six-months from the date of the decision. As yet, no appeal has been submitted.

 

 

The Porthleven Shipyard building refused planning permisson

What a journey this planning application has been. It has been a close run thing with the outcome finally balanced as the application was recommended for approval. The application was nearly refused at last planning meeting, but – and welcomed – a site meeting was arranged. This site meeting allowed the community to show its feeling and for Councillors on the committee to see first-hand the impact this building would have not only of the area, but Porthleven as a whole. I thank the committee for agreeing to this.

The people of Porthleven accept change will happen, but this change has to be sympathetic to our history, culture and environment. This building is not sympathetic to those important factors.

There is a statutory duty to preserve and enhance Conservation Areas that are designated under s.69 of the Act. The area’s designation has the highest protection in terms of the adopted 2010 Management Appraisal for Porthleven and Local Plan (National Policy); therefore, any building has to align itself to those important principles and this application does not uphold those principles; as the building’s location, scale, form and design would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance Conservation Area.

The Porthleven Fishermen’s and Boat-owner Association – much to their credit – stood firm and objected most strongly to this application. This is because the proposed building and layout would harm boat related activity. Lynne Lees as Secretary of the Association spoke amazingly at the recent site meeting. John Boyle put the views of the association at both planning with purpose and clearly highlighting why the association had continuously objected to these plans.

The Town Council objected most strongly to this application and made strong representations both in writing and at the committee meetings. The Town Council’s viewpoint were admirably put forward but Councillors Mike Toy and Liz Lane. The Deputy Mayor, Bev Plunkett showed her support at today’s meeting too.

Porthleven’s community have also stood up with over 120 representation against this proposal. Yes, not everyone was against this plan, but the objections far outweighed those who supported it.

This was all rewarded today at the West Planning Committee meeting Councillors on that committee refused to grant permission for this building. The committee understood the impact and harm to such a central and important of Porthleven part of this building would have and rather than just go with the recommendation for approval voted to refused this application. I thank the committee for the consideration and robust challenge.

The reason for refusal is:

The proposed development would, due to its scale, bulk and form, result in an imposing building which would fail to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and wider appreciation of Porthleven within the AONB landscape and harm the setting and appearance of non-designated heritage assets namely St Bartholomew’s Church and the stone boundary wall fronting Methleigh Bottoms. 

The less than substantial harm identified would outweigh the benefits of the proposal and the development would be contrary to the aims of Policies 1, 2, 12, 23 and 24 of the Cornwall Local Plan Strategic Policies 2010-2030, paragraphs 7, 14, 17, 56, 57, 58,115, 126, 127, 131 and 135 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2012, guidance within the Porthleven Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy and Cornwall AONB Management Plan 2016-2021 and Section 72 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Area) Act 1990.

Only three Councillors voted against refusal with one Councillor, Mike Thomas of Helston spoke in favour of this application at the committee. The other two Councillors who voted against were Councillors John Herd and Richard Robinson.

Of course, this is not the end. As the application has the right of appeal. I am hopeful if an appeal is launched, the robust reasons for refusals would be upheld and the appeal dismissed.

Porthleven Shipyard Application is defered for a site meeting

Today, Cornwall Council’s West Planning Committee met to discuss the controversial Shipyard Application. The Planning Officers recommendation was for approval. Yet this does not mean it automatically gets approved.

Speaking and objecting at the meeting were Porthleven Town Council and the Porthleven Fishermen’s Association. I also spoke against too. Mr Osborne was there speaking for the application.In a breath-taking moment of hypocrisy, Mr Osborne open his speech complaining about the use of social media and how that had been used against this application. Yet there was no mention, or more importantly, an apology or acknowledgement of his own staff inventing fake personas and granny on social media. It was like it did not happen.

In addressing the committee I reiterated the objection from the Fishermen’s Association  and highlighted this application had 120 objections from the community. The town council also strongly objects.

The people of Porthleven accept change will happen, but this change has to be sympathetic to our history, culture and environment. This building is not sympathetic to those important factors.

There is a statutory duty to preserve and enhance Conservation Areas that are designated under s.69 of the Act. This build does not comply with those documents. This area’s designation has the highest protection in terms of the adopted 2010 Management Appraisal for Porthleven and Local Plan (National Policy).

This application does not uphold those principles; as the building’s location, scale, form and design would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance Conservation Area.

This building does not comply with Cornwall Council’s own Maritime Strategy. From sections A to G, this building undermines this very Strategy. For example:

  • Protect the waterfront land
  • Maximise the opportunities for supporting and promoting sustainable local fisheries and aquaculture – you have heard from the fishermen and boat owners how this building will harm their operations
  • Improve functional connectivity between land and sea. This build blocks this connectivity
  • Maintain and enhance the distinctive character and settings of local coastal villages and ports

This building would also adversely impact upon the appreciation of other heritage assets, such as the church and the  landscape for future generations from prominent public viewpoints. As my picture of before and after will show

This important part of Porthleven will be eroded by this building, which is designed in a clumsy, bulky mass, will dominate Porthleven and will undermine the historic integrity of historic port forever. It is not like you can remove the building once you find it really harms the area.

During the meeting a committee member, Cllr Coad recommended refusal but then complicated matters by saying he liked the building. The planning officer explained to the Councillor you cannot refuse an application, but like it.

This opened up another round of debate and the committee settled on having a site meeting to look at the impact of this building first-hand. I see this as a positive move as it will show the committee the real impact of this building.

The date for this site meeting has not yet been confirmed. However, as this is a public meeting, member of the public are allowed to attend and give their views to the committee. After the site meeting, this application is reheard at the planning committee where they will make – hopefully – a decision of whether this should be approved or refused.

For those who have yet commented on the application, you can still and if you feel strongly about this, you need to make representation.

Lastly, special thanks should go to Councillors Martin and Duffin who were quite vocal on this application not being good for Porthleven. Thank you.

 

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.

 

 

Amended Plans in for the Shipyard building

In light of the comments made by Porthleven Town Council, Cornwall Council and objectors, the applicant for the Shipyard building has submitted amended plans.

The first question most will ask is ‘what has changed?’ According to the plans the building footprint has been reduced in size by 10% (from 855m2 to 770m2).  This has resulted in the rear elevation reducing to 14.4m in width and the length to 33.4m (for reference, the current blue building are 31m in length).

Amended plans

old plans

The building has also been moved nearer to the existing Origin Coffee building enabling the covered walkway and bus stop roof to be attached to the coffee house.  This has resulted in a larger gap between the river fence and the building from 7m to 7.9m. This is to address the issue of manoeuvring boats in and out of the shipyard.

The “look out” or staircase top has been removed from the top of the building.  Access will still exist using a sliding glass top to the stairs. Yet there is still no disabled wheelchair access to the roof.

Old position

I think the previous colour of Blue was universally disliked by commentators and in addressing that the colour of the building has been changed to silver grey.

There is a dedicated bus shelter as the previous scheme did not show clearly the enclosed dedicated space in the current bus shelter location. There will be a defined area with bench seats and a glass weather protective screen with the canopy roof covering the bus shelter.

The public toilets are still there and will be free to Porthleven people and the facilities will be cleaned and maintained by the owner.

The entrance shown on Methleigh Bottoms will be increased to 8.0m in width to ensure boats trailers, cars and HGVs will have improved manoeuvring. In a change to the access to the site the only entrance/exit to the site will be via the new entrance on Methleigh Bottoms. Only boats will be allowed to exit the current site

The lack of sufficient dedicated parking bays has also been addresses with 10 spaces dedicated to the new building

The proposed use of this building is to create jobs or potential work space.  At present almost no office space exists in Porthleven to provide small business with incubator work space / workshops.

These plans will again be discussed by Porthleven TC (date to be confirmed) where anyone for or against can make representations. I would also suggest people who have previously commented to update their view, or want to comment again due to the changes to the application.

Previous blogs can be found HERE

 

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