I know any changes to the harbour, harbour head, or even Porthleven are often met with hostility. And no doubt what I am about to explain will be met in some quarters with that hostility. However, in this case, I see merit in the plan I am about to talk about.
We all love and know the harbour head; however, the little concrete structure in front of it is often misunderstood.it has been recently widened, has seating, but it is hardly welcoming. Now the Harbour and Dock Company wants to add this area, with the company submitting plans to the Cornwall Council’s planning authority asking for planning permission to add three structures.
When I first saw the plans, I was at first – really? But this was a very early draft and it would be really easy to just dismiss the plan because it is a change from what we are use to. However, it got me thinking about Porthleven’s public realm and how it could be improved.
In most cases, changes to public realm only come about with large grants; and while I acknowledged there will be a small commercial operation as part of the plan, the rest is for public use without restriction. It is a point I made to the applicants that this area – whilst owned privately – must remain accessible to the public without restriction if this plan is approved. This has been agreed.
The design also reflects the previous life the harbour head had when it was full of fishing and boat building related sheds. As you will see from the picture below.
Having read the design and access statement, I agree this area could be improved which gives better facilities to the community. In inclement weather, there is little shelter in and around the harbour. These structures would offer that – to a point. The area will also have more seating for public use. It could even be used by school children as some sort of outside classroom. In reality, it will be up to the public how they would adopt this area.
As for the small commercial operation I asked how big, and what type of business would be run from it. I also asked who will be running it. The answer I got which is also part of the planning application is café/bar/food vendor (A3). The answer to the who will run it question was ‘it will be offered to existing businesses in Porthleven first.’ It is quite a small unit, and therefore will only contain the equipment needing to run the unit.
Whilst I had concerns about the Stick over at Black Sands Quay, and was worried about the scale and location of the warehouse/factory in the shipyard, I can see a positive in this application as the community will benefit too. Of course there will be those who will not like this, but this area has changed dramatically over the year as has Porthleven itself.
These plans are now submitted to Cornwall Council where the public and the town council will be asked for their view in planning terms. This application will more than likely need listed building permission because of the grading of the harbour walls.
Looking at the details and the community benefit this application would offer, I think this is a sensible plan. It will not please all, but for me, I can see merit in this application.
I bet you also noticed the name in the title. Harbour Head Terrace. This is the name given as part of the application to distinguish from the Harbour Head. Truth be told, I like the name for this area, it gives the area a name.