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

 

Shipyard application turned down by Porthleven Town Council

Thursday’s Porthleven Town Council planning meeting was likely to be a busy one, and it was, with standing room only. The item residents came to voice their concern over as you can expect was the shipyard application.

These public objections were on the size and impact of the building; not in keeping with the historic fabric of Porthleven; highways; loss of boat yard facilities; parking and access on and from the slipway. The Porthleven Fishermen’s Association also made comment at the meeting about the negative impact on the boat owner and fishing community this building would have.

This application was never going to be an easy-one, as changes to an area on this scale never run smoothly. But change can and does happen. It just not at the expensive of other important areas.

For me, I very much welcome jobs in Porthleven and those which are different to the tourism sector. However it is important to understand how many job, the type of jobs and will they be new jobs or jobs that have been relocated from existing buildings. In answering my question, Trevor Osborne and his architect suggested between 50 and 100 jobs. Though there was no confirmation as to whether these were new jobs or relocated.

I am sure many would agree there could be much more use made out of the shipyard, but this has to be in balance with other aspects of Porthleven and this building should not harm those other important aspects of Porthleven including heritage, the landscape and existing jobs.

This application comes down to need against harm. Yes we need jobs in Porthleven and it is good someone actually wants to invest in Porthleven. However, as the plans stand, I am not yet satisfied this proposal would in fact be totally positive for Porthleven.

This size, scale and impact on the area is of huge importance as this building would in effect dominate this area and would also impact on the surrounding area, including many important historical views. You only have to look at this site from different position like Peverell Terrace, Breageside, Fore Street corner and Church Row to see this building would fundamentally change those views.

There is a total lack of parking provision for the building of this size and for the number of jobs. It is no more than 10 from the plans. Parking is important, and adequate parking must be provided. Without decent levels of parking, this building would just create problems elsewhere. It was suggested by the application that parking could be provided past Tolponds. This option is flawed as the site is far away and there is no footpath. The area is also in a 60 mph zone, and you really cannot have people walking on this road without a footpath. Of course a footpath could be built, but this is not simple due to the sheer costs of putting in a footpath and this footpath would have to cross land in multiple ownerships.

A really important issue is the loss of the bus stop as this current plan removes the well used bus stop and has not been replaced with any dedicated provision in the plans for a bus stop. There is  somewhat of a ‘waiting area’ but this is not a protective shelter. It would also conflict with possible use as a café as this space would leave people confused, and unsure if they could use it whilst waiting for a bus. This current bus stop is well-used, and therefore, it would have a negative effect on those using public transport if it was removed and not replaced.

This application raises some really serious highways concerns I do raise serious concerns. There is no turning space not only for large vehicles, but those with trailers/and boats. The road on Methleigh bottoms is narrow in this location, and the field of vision looking towards the harbour with a sharp bend is not clear. If large goods vehicles, boat trailers cannot access the yard, then there would be a temptation to back on the harbour head road. If this happens, this would cause congestion in the area and will have a knock-on up Fore Street. The proposed access in and out of the shipyard is also of major concern.

The impact to the boat owners and fishermen has to be taken into serious consideration; this includes access on to and from the slip. There will also be a lack of boat repair and storage facilities if this plan was approved in its current format. Porthleven is a harbour and ‘safe haven’ and it would be totally unacceptable for a harbour not to have these facilities.

I also very much dislike the ‘company blue’

The matter is this application has to be decided on what are the current plan, and not any further amendments which may come forward. As there is no guarantee any of these changes will be made if support is given. Therefore, in light of the concerns raised, Porthleven Town Council felt it could not support this application and voted unanimously to refuse the application.

From the town council’s decision, the application can be decided by Cornwall Council as it stands, or as I am hopeful, updated plans will be submitted for the town council and the public to make further comment on.

Just how big is Porthleven’s Shipyard application

When it comes to planning drawings it is sometimes hard to see how big a building is when is comes to size and scale and how it impacts on an area using just the standard 2D planning application drawings. In trying to understand just how big the building would be, and how it would sit in the shipyard, today I paced out the building size using the scale plans. In doing this it really did give me an insight on how big this building is not just on the proposed building footprint, but the ridge-height too.

I took the picture below from near the wall on the entrance to the Shipyard to give a scale of length. The two red lines is the width of the building.  In trying to understand the length of the building you just need to compare the three current blue Shipyard buildings as they are roughly the same length as the proposed building.   As for the ridge-height of the proposed building, it is easy to visualize this by looking at the Kota sign and imagining the height of the proposed building to be between that and the ridge-line of Kota.

When you take into then take into consideration all the measurements, you really see the scale of the proposed building. It is huge. For anyone interesting in seeing the scale of the building, I have marked out the length and width of the building with yellow paint at the key points. These measurements are not inch perfect, but as good a I can get.

Width of the proposed Shipyard building.

 

It is important anyone with a view on this application make their feelings known in writing. Porthleven Town Council will be meeting to discuss this application on Thursday 23rd Feb at the town council offices at 7pm. This is a public meetings, and all are welcome.

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