The Truro of the Future?
Monday was always going to be long, I just did not realise how long, or how much information was going to be produced for me to take in. As you may know, I sit on Cornwall Council’s Strategic Planning Committee. This Committee has made some difficult and controversial decisions because of this strategic nature of its role.
Today, we were presented what are called ‘technical briefings’. We have had these before and they have proved useful in the past where questions needed to be asked before any formal planning application is made. Today’s briefings were on plans for Truro. In total, 4 of these briefings were given which I will try and explain in a little detail on this blog.
The first one was on the plans to develop the 2nd phase of the Truro Park and Ride, 97 houses, a Recycling centre and a Waitrose supermarket that incorporates a Taste of Cornwall food centre. The size of this supermarket is around 15,000 sq ft with the Taste of Cornwall being around 5,000 sq ft, so in total 20,000 sq ft of food retail.
The second briefing was proposed for the Maiden Green (behind Treliske Hospital). This plan includes 560 residential units, with 35% being affordable (Yes, the word affordable is subjective). An Asda superstore that will be 34,000 sq ft in size. For a guide, the Asda at Penryn is around 40,000 sq ft. A hotel of the Travelodge type, leisure centre and community facilities.
I asked a question to the developer if they were to build a new pool, could it be the 50m type? The response I got back was positive saying they would be open to talk about that aspect. I believe that this could be a major asset and attraction to this area, especially as the developer would be paying for it. 10,000 sq ft of class B business. 300 units for student and/or key worker. Lastly, a new roundabout on the A390 (we do love roundabouts in this country).
The third briefing was Willow Green; this included 35,000 food retail, 500 dwelling units and improvements along the A390. Not much more to say on this one as it was fairly basic in what the developer was proposing. It just lacked real detail on the A390 improvements.
Lastly was Langarth Farm. This includes 60 bed hotel, medical centre, small convenience store (400 sq ft), 60 bed care home, Primary School, Office units up to 6,000 sq ft, highway improvements, 1500 dwellings and land for a Stadium to be built on. The developer made great pains to point out that they would not build the Stadium, but transfer the land for it to be built on for a nominal fee. Many questions were asked about the inclusion of a stadium in this application. The developers answered that the council had requested what they had offered in the proposals. I think any discussion on a stadium should be taken in isolation before it’s added as part of a planning application.
I will say that none of the proposals are currently planning applications, or may never become one; we would only know any details when the plans are submitted. Saying that, if all these ‘ideas’ came forward as applications then Truro could be looking at a further 94,000 sq ft of food retailers for a population of around 18,000. That is on top of the current major and smaller food retailers. You have to ask were all the people who will use these shops will come from without having a huge impact on the shops in those areas that people have travelled from. That does not mean Truro will get all the food retailers, but it has the potential to do so.
It would also be looking at an additional 2957 dwellings, some of these are much needed affordable, or hopefully social rent. But, does Truro need this amount of new builds? It comes to the age old argument of jobs before houses, or houses before jobs.
The most worrying aspect of all these proposals is the impact they will have on the A390. All the briefings said they would improve this road, but from what I saw in the briefings this was nothing more than a few roundabout, traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. The A390 in its current form is not up to the job due to the heavy use, that is before any of these developments are given permission. Anyone who has to travel along this stretch of will know how bad it is, let alone at peak-times. I do feel that this road needs to be greatly improved, allowing further pressures along this road without improvements is asking for trouble. But the trick is how you will do this considering this road is flanked by houses.
It is going to be interesting to see if any of the points made today will make it into any application.