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.

 

 

Porthleven Town Council supports industrial units along Methleigh Bottoms

The Harbour and Dock Company has in the last year submitted a series of Pre-apps or planning applications for certain areas to be developed. The latest is the planning application for a series of industrial units and parking spaces along the Methleigh Bottom road.

The Town Council as part of the planning process has studied this site and it the plans for it to see whether it should be supported in full, supported subject to conditions, or refused.

The plan for the two cleared fields.

As you can see from the three pictures, the first being the site layout, the second and third the design of the buildings, this is a large development of an area which has been used a fields for the last 80 plus years.

Whilst people might wish for this area to remain in its natural state, the Town Council has looked at this site on whether changing its use will be of a benefit to Porthleven in terms of employability without an undue harm to the environment.

For any settlement to be successful it needs to have an economy that is varied and can weather any change. Porthleven is well-known as a great place to live and visit, has amazing shops, eateries and a stunning environment. But this is mostly within one sector. With this in mind, this proposed site strengthening another sector of light industrial. Which means more opportunities for employment outside the current sectors.

The Town Council has spent a lot of time looking at the proposed plans, it has looked at the evidence for both positive and negative impact to the area, listened to the reason why this is being built and has to come to a conclusion to support this application in principle, subject to a series of conditions.

These conditions are:

  • Screening – conditions set to ensure adequate screening is put in place, screening of deciduous trees preferred. Request that the mature trees on site are protected. This includes the rear of the site to enable the residents of the area to soften the impact of buildings;
  • Boat storage – adequate secure provision for boat storage / repair facilities, including water and electrics, offered all year round. In the current plan, the applicant has only offered this in the winter months);
  • Health & Safety – sprinkler system to be installed (at requested by the Fire Brigade);
  • Traffic Road Order entered into to reduce speed limit from 40mph to 30mph from sewage works towards Porthleven on the B3304. To include ‘dragon teeth’ markings to further identify the new speed limit;
  • Detailed travel plan to be submitted, including more details on the exit/entrance points – request that the Town Council are a consultee;
  • Footpath installed for approximately 20m towards Mill Lane to allow for safe pedestrian crossing on the B3304;
  • Design / building materials sympathetic to the area using traditional materials so that the proposed has a positive impact on the area;
  • Details of bike storage facilities in Porthleven required (to avoid bikes be abandoned around the main settlement area).

If these conditions are not met to the satisfaction of the Town Council, the Council has the right to change its support to one of not supporting and seeking the planning authority to refuse this application. It should be noted, this application subject to the aforementioned conditions was supported unanimously by the Council.

The issue of drainage and flooding has been identified by the Town Council, but other than the use of SUP within the site and the details contained within the proposed plan, this will be covered by the statutory bodies such as the EA, SWW etc. in the planning process. In the submitted documents, there is a substantial flood risk assessment that has been undertaken.

I know some people has raised the issue of costs of units. This is something that the Town Council has no control over or has the power to ask for conditions to be placed on the units. Likewise for the type of business there. The applicant has made some suggestions of what type of business go there, but again the type of use outside of the building classifications cannot be conditioned and is at the end-of-the-day up to the applicant to fill.

For more details on the application, or to give your viewpoint, click HERE

 

Staff at the Osborne Property Group create fake Gran stories and Facebook profile to influence planning

As a seasoned Councillor who has held public office for over ten-years, you totally accept people do not always agree with a stance you have to take when carrying out your duties. I totally respect the views of others who do not share mine. But at the end of the day, I make decisions on what is in the best interests of the area I represent by looking at all the evidence from all sides. It is only then I take a viewpoint and cast a vote. As the old saying goes, you cannot please all the people all of the time.

I always believe if you have something to say, put your name to it when you say it. However, with the advent of social media and its mainstream use, I have witnessed many online comments, including on my own social media accounts of people using aliases.

It has therefore saddened me that I have been professionally attacked, my position has tried to be undermined by member(s) of staff of the Osborne Group using fake accounts.

A senior member of The Osborne Group was this weekend caught or should I say outed of using a false internet persona trying to attack me, and in the process deceiving numerous Porthleven residents. The staff member in question, Miss Pace is described on The Osborne Group’s website as Development Coordinator on a number of projects across the UK including Cornwall and is clearly one of 6 leading members of their team, working closely with Mr Osborne.

Miss Sam Pace set-up a fake account called Maxwell Holbourne-Chartres to attack me personally and professionally. This fake account has been used previously to attack me on a different subject too. So they cannot claim it’s a single use. It was only when I publicly outed them did Miss Pace come ‘clean’ on her actions.

What is worse is the fake account claimed to have a lonely gran living in Porthleven. Miss Pace even said her gran was a former net maker and would be willing to give her memories a project that is capturing our rich history. They even asked if their gran could write a supporting letter to planning. This raises a serious question of are there other fake letters of support submitted to the planning authority?

Resident of Porthleven are a caring bunch and when ‘Maxwell Holbourne-Chartres’ or should we say Miss Pace said ‘his’ gran was lonely in the town, people rallied to offer support and help. Yet this was a lie. As there was no such gran; nor did they a come from Porthleven.

In what I can guess is a legalised damage limitation exercise, posted after being ousted, Miss Pace said

“I regret to say that I posted comments on FB in a friend’s name. This was a serious error of judgement on my part, although I absolutely stand by the comments made in their entirety. This post was made in a personal capacity, not as an employee of The Osborne Group

”.

However, Miss Pace has not apologised to me or more shamefully to the public they tried to dupe with their fake gran story to gather more sympathy and credence to their story. Furthermore, they have not apologised for setting up a fake account and ‘trolling’ myself and members of the community. In fact, Miss Pace’s statement doesn’t actually apologise. Interestingly, this fake account was deleted soon after the outing

It gets worse, as after outing Miss Pace, I examined other comments and I easily found out that other comments have been made by PR companies. I know those PR companies have connection to the Osborne Group. As I said before, I respect other people’s views, but to me this looks like a more orchestrated attempted at undermining the democratic process I have been elected to do.

The owner of the Osborne Group, Mr Osborne said in a recent press article that

“All I would ask for is feedback to me, and others, is constructive and fair. In particular, I hope that Andrew Wallis remains objective and professional in his role as Town Councillor’

I wish the same could be said for member(s) of Mr Osborne’s staff who have used unprofessional and deceitful actions to undermine someone’s viewpoint. Mr Osborne has even called me ‘hysterical’ when I rise legitimate issues of his company of breaking the law.

I have always have remained professional and objective in all manners of this and other applications. I have been totally fair and constructive, but in my view this Shipyard application is not in the best interested of Porthleven. I have come to this conclusion by examining all the information and evidence.  I therefore will, and have the right to make representations, comments both on and off-line on this application. I will also be making comments to this application at the forthcoming planning committee.

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Planning Application for three timber shelters on ‘Harbour Head Terrace’

After the excitement of the Shipyard application being live and open for comment; brace yourself for another one. This time it is a re-submission of thee timber shelters and kiosks in the location of what is being named at Harbour Head Terrace.

The official planning application number is PA17/00847. The documents can be found HERE.

The plan for Harbour Head Terrace

In the Design, Access and Heritage statement it says:

“At the centre of the proposals is the desire to enhance the communal enjoyment of the Harbour Head, the harbour itself, and the popular views of the harbour and notable buildings. The proposals offer an appropriate and sustainable use of the Harbour Head Terrace for the long-term benefit of the local community and wider area. The Heritage Impact Assessment produced for the purposes of the application outline the conservation principles which are to:

  • Improve views of the inner and outer harbour by providing an appropriate public space;
  • Enhance the communal and aesthetic heritage value of the Harbour Head; • Bring sustainable new uses to the existing Harbour Head.
  • Enhance the Harbour Character Area identified within the Conservation Area.”

It goes on to say:

“Alongside this, there are clear objectives regarding benefits to the local economy which are to:

  • Promote permeability, activity in the local and wider area;
  • Promote local arts, crafts and trades to exhibit and trade in the local area;
  • Support local events, markets, concerts, and festivals;
  • Promote regeneration in the local and wider area.”

All the document information can be read HERE. You can also make comment online, or like the Shipyard application at one of the applicants consultation events, If you cannot make either of those events, you can officially comment to Cornwall Council and/or Porthleven TC.

The proposed design of the sheds

Planning application for Shipyard building is now live

Drum-roll….

The planning application for the new building located in what is commonly known as the Shipyard is now live after it has been validated and has an official planning reference number. I am sure this application will be of interest to those near and far; as it is quite a fundamental change to what is currently located in the Shipyard.

The planning reference number is PA17/00573 and all the detail on the application can be found HERE.

There has been a pre-application on this proposal and Cornwall Council gave advice and whilst “there is support in principle from a planning perspective for development within this area of the Shipyard”. However, the Council’s advice raised a number of issues that needed to addressed

  • There is potential conflict in views from the harbour towards the town between the building proposed and the Grade II* Methodist Chapel.
  • The loss of the historic wall to the West of the site to facilitate access by service and good vehicles has potential to result in the loss of significant element of historic fabric”
  • The site lies within Flood Zone 3” The proposed finish floor level of the ground floor is raised to 7.00m which is similar to the adjacent building to the west.

In the Design, Access and Heritage Statement (Click HERE), it says these concerns have been addressed.

My advice would be for everyone to read the planning documents, attend the public consultation arranged by the applicant, and take part in the official public consultation (which is live now) making your views know to both Cornwall Council and Porthleven Town Council.

The building elevations

Layout of the Shipyard Building

Consultation for Shipyard building in Porthleven

Porthleven Harbour and Dock Company are holding two periods of public consultation in reference to two planning applications they have submitted. The first is a building in the Shipyard and the second is three structures on what is being called Harbour Head Terrace.

I am sure people will remember a previous pre-application for the Shipyard building and how there was concern about the use of this building. This pre-app never progressed to a full planning application. This time a planning application has been submitted (not yet validated yet) for a shop/cafe and office space.

The second application is for is for a re-submission of three structures on Harbour Head Terrace. This was previously withdrawn by the application due to concerns from the Conservation Officer.

 

This public consultation is arranged by the applicant. The applications will still be subject to the official consultation by Cornwall Council and Porthleven Town Council. This will be where anyone who wants to support or object to these applications can make their views know.

This event is listed on What’s on in Porthleven – HERE

St. Ives Neighbourhood Plan: Residents 1 – Property Developers 0

In a landmark case, which will have an impact not only in Cornwall, but also across the land. Cornwall Council is welcoming the news that the claim for judicial review (JR) submitted by RLT Built Environment Limited of the authority’s decision to support the publication of the St Ives Neighbourhood Development Plan and put it to a referendum in St Ives has been dismissed on all counts.

In simple terms, the residents of St Ives and Carbis Bay have had the Court uphold is Neighbourhood Plan to restrict new builds from being used as holiday/second homes. The neighbourhood plan has been tested by referendum on 5 May 2016 and of the 47% of electors entitled to vote , 83% voted in favour of Cornwall Council using the St Ives NDP to help decide planning applications.

Those who submitted the JR do have three weeks to submitted and appeal, but if they do not, then this plans can be used in planning applications.

The decision also means that town and parish councils with similar policies in their Neighbourhood Plans will also be able to progress them. These will be dealt with on a case by case basis subject to supporting evidence and the relevant Examiner’s report. I know this will be of interest in Porthleven; as the subject of restricting holiday/second homes has been raised by residents as part of the Porthleven Neighbourhood Plan process.

Prior to the referendum RLT Built Environment Limited, a firm of architects specialising in residential development and design, challenged  the Council’s decision made on 17 March 2016 to proceed to referendum. The original challenge comprised 8 grounds, all but 3 of which were abandoned prior to the hearing on 6 October 2016, with the main challenge claiming that Policy H2 – the principal residency requirement , was incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Judge in the case, Mr Justice Hickinbottom said in dismissing the judicial review he had not been convinced by any of the grounds put forward by the claimants:

I do not consider any of the grounds strong – and I have expressly found some to be unarguable” he said.  “I heard full submissions on all of the grounds, and I have given a full judgment. In all the circumstances, not without hesitation, I shall grant permission to proceed on all grounds; but, having done so, refuse the substantive application”.

The Judge heard full submissions on all of the grounds from both RLT Built Environment and the Council and gave permission for a hearing. He  found that Grounds 1,2 and 3 ((4) of the original application) failed for the reasons set out in the detailed judgment and refused the substantive application.

For those technically minded in planning, the three grounds put forward by the claimants as part of the judicial review were :

Ground 1 : Policy H2 – the Principal Residence Requirement – does not comply with the requirements of the SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment ) Directive and Regulations.

Principal Residences are defined as those occupied as the residents’ sole or main residence , where the residents spend the majority of their time when not working away from home. The condition or obligation on new market homes will require that they are occupied only as the primary (principal) residence of those persons entitled to occupy them. Occupiers of homes with a Principal  Residence condition will be required to keep proof that they are meeting the obligation or condition, and be obliged to provide this proof if/when Cornwall Council requests this information. Proof of Principal Residence is via verifiable evidence  which could include,  for example  (but not limited to) residents being registered on the local electoral register and being registered for and attending local services (such as healthcare, schools etc).”

Ground 2 : Policy H3 Development  of Un- Allocated Sites and Additional Sites Following the Commitment of all Allocated Sites does not comply with the requirements of the SEA Directive and Regulations

The development of un-allocated sites may be considered only if:

  1. they are for 50 dwellings or less;
  2. the site forms a logical extension to the existing built up area and is not an isolated development in the countryside;
  3. housing density is a maximum of 35 dwellings per hectare;
  4. they are affordable housing led schemes (i.e. deliver the maximum viable amount).

Ground 3 : Policy H2 is incompatible with article 8 of the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights . This states that .”Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” and “ There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” 

Well played Cornwall Council for defending the wishes of residents of St. Ives and Carbis Bay.

Pre-app for extension to Shrubberies Hill development

There is no easy way to say this, but developers have submitted a pre-application to the Cornwall Council’s planning authority. A pre-app is a way for developers and individuals to see if an idea is supported under the planning system and feedback is given prior to any formal submission. This is a paid for service.

This site in question is easily explained in the following picture.

Shrub pt2In the submitted documents, the agent has indicated this site could take up to 80 dwellings. Due to the location of the site, this would be classed as an exceptional site and therefore, this could be a site of 100% affordable, with a minimum of 50%.

I can see why this pre-application has been submitted now, because the emerging Porthleven Neighbour Plan (PNP) has this area one of the least preferred for development. This is because the working group has done a huge amount of work on a Local Landscape Character Assessment (LLCA), which has prioritised those areas that would be ‘better’ for development. You can read the detailed LLCA HERE

Just to recap, the Local Plan, and the emerging Porthleven Neighbourhood Plan has Porthleven requiring a further 80 dwellings over the next 15 years.

The PNP is also spending a lot of time using the LLCA details to do site allocations. A site allocation is where a plan based on evidence, sets a preferred area to be developed first. This does not guarantee another site is developed, but gives you a strong defence to resist a site that is not one of the preferred. The following picture gives you a clear idea where the preferred sites are.

image

In light of the LLRC and the work of the PNP, I do not think this site should be supported for housing. I know it is for affordable, and this is much needed in Porthleven. However, this site could have only a minimum of 50% because of something called viability. If you compare this will with the split of open-market to affordable for Porthleven in the Local Plan – 70/30 –  which would be imposed on all other sites.

The difficulty in resisting this application if a formal plan comes forward is the PNP is an emerging plan; which has not been tested by referendum and therefore, it is given little weight in the planning process, or at an Appeal. This is always a danger with any emerging plan when an area is deemed less suitable for development and the landowner wants to act quickly before they find it is very difficult/impossible to take forward.

As I said before, this is only a pre-app and there is no process for the public, or the town council to give a view. This site should not be supported because there are other more viable areas in Porthleven for future development.

For more information on the PNP, please click HERE

Appeal for Shepherd Huts in Porthleven dismissed by Planning Inspector

The Planning Inspector has dismissed two appeals made by Saracen House Estates Ltd (Harbour and Dock) in reference to placing several shepherds’ huts between Beacon Rd and Mount Pleasant Rd:

  • Ref PA15/03264; the proposed is siting of four shepherds huts for holiday use, formation of car parking spaces, widening of access (including removal of part of existing stone-hedge), together with associated works, and;
  • Ref PA15/06091, the development proposed is siting of two shepherds huts for holiday use, formation of car parking spaces, widening of access (including removal of part of existing stone-hedge) together with associated works.

In the refusal of the appeal, the inspector applied significant weight to the AONB Management Plan which is due to its fairly up-to-date adopted status in protecting the setting of the AONB, including that of the Conversation Area. And, the Cornwall Design Guide (the Design Guide) which is also a fairly recently adopted document to which significant weight can therefore be applied in respect of its role in, amongst other things, supporting development that relates to, respects, and sits well in its local context.

A typical shepherd hut design.

A typical shepherd hut design.

The appeal site is one such area of key open space in Porthleven, identified as such in the (Porthleven) Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy to which the inspector have applied significant weight, again due to its fairly recent endorsement by Cornwall Council, following a consultation process.

In summing up, the inspector found that the settings of the listed harbour walls and the boundary stone would be preserved. However, this does not lessen the harm that the inspector otherwise found would be caused in respect of the character and appearance of the Conversation Area and the setting of the Ship Inn.

Looking at the bigger picture, there needs to be consistency in appeals. As if you used the same decision for refusing this appeal, then the large building on Frankie’s Allotment that was given planning permission at a appeal last year, should never have been given permission because of its impact to the ‘green wedge’ in this area.

With the inspectors decision, it stops any further application for shepherd huts in this area.

 

 

Government set to change the affordable housing criteria – again

The Government just cannot leave the planning rules for more than a few days without wanting to make changes. They say it is for the benefit of people who are unable to access the housing market. Others would say the tweaks are to the advantage to developers. The latest changes which are currently being consulted upon are around affordable housing.

The Government is looking at changes to broadening the definition of affordable housing to include starter homes; increasing the density of development around commuter hubs; supporting sustainable new settlements; helping development on brownfield land and small sites; ensuring delivery of housing allocated in plans; promoting and aiding the delivery of starter homes, including exception sites in rural areas and as part of mixed use commercial developments. As you can read quite a few changes to the current planning rules.

In the latest round of tweaks, the Government plans to soften the current exception site policy in favour of ‘starter home’ developments. For the Government’s definition of a starter home click HERE.

I am concerned to extend rural exceptions to deliver starter homes. In Cornwall rural exception sites have played a vital role in the provision of affordable housing in Cornwall.

Furthermore, the proposal to allow exception sites for starter homes could significantly reduce the willingness of landowners to make sites available for affordable housing outside of starter homes. The loss of this approach or undermining its acceptance with local communities and landowners could significantly reduce the delivery of local needs housing.

If the provision is to be made, the Council should have the flexibility to require local connection tests. It is not clear from the consultation whether this test would be made perpetuity. Which means someone could purchase a starter home and then make a large profit on a re-sale.

Rural exception sites are often located in the most expensive and desirable areas of Cornwall and the changes could impact on a local person’s ability to be able to purchase a home with only a discount of 20% from open market value.

The evidence included within draft policies within Cornwall’s emerging local plan indicates that that the average ‘purchasing power’ of households looking to buy an affordable home may only be £87,000-£104,500 for typical 2 and 3-bedroom houses. With average house prices as high in Cornwall, if (or should I say when) this change happens, it should be up to the local authority to set the discount.

As 20% of a averagely (last quarter of 2015) price house in Helston of £202,481; Porthleven (£237,151) and Praa Sands (£378,900) is not going to make much difference in the ability to afford a house.as they currently are, it is highly unlikely that a 20% discount will enable a significant number of additional households to purchase a property.

A further impact of these possible changes to the rules is the knock on effect on affordable rents. If starters homes are given more weight, or developers see a greater profit in delivering this type of house will mean less affordable rents. High rents are an issue in Cornwall. If these are less houses available for rent, the demand for existing stock will no-doubt push the rental price up.

More details From the Planning PAC HERE

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