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Falmouth housing project makes waves

30 September 2016

Church Commissioners

From fields to housing: a map of the proposed development on the northern edge of Falmouth

From fields to housing: a map of the proposed development on the northern edge of Falmouth

RESIDENTS in and around Falmouth, in Cornwall, have expressed concern over proposals put forward by the Church Commissioners to develop 300 new homes on the edge of the town.

The Church Commissioners have been discussing proposals for a two and three-storey residential development on the 33-acre site in Ponsharden with officers from Cornwall County Council. Plans were drawn-up by the agents Nathanial Lichfield & Partners on behalf of the Commissioners earlier this month.

The area, which is located on the main road between Falmouth and Penryn, is described by the Council as “Falmouth North” and a key location for residential development.

But the community campaign group Save Our Falmouth is concerned at the influx of housing developments in the area in recent years — in particular, plans to expand student accommodation sites linked to the University of Falmouth.

One resident, Susie Watson, wrote on the group’s Facebook page: “All these large hideous developments are ruining the character of the town. . . it will do nothing to ease the housing problems in Penryn and Falmouth.”

The publicity manager for Save Our Falmouth, Tracy Boulton, told the regional paper the West Briton this week that the new homes would not solve the housing deficit in the area: “I understand the need for more housing, but look at the figures: these four fields are set to provide 300 homes, let’s say an average of three occupants, so 900 people housed. That basically covers the approximate number of people on the council’s housing list for the area.”

A spokesman from the Church Commissioners said: “This land on the edge of Falmouth has been identified by officers at Cornwall County Council as potentially being suitable for new housing, and we have been carrying out our own preliminary assessment to confirm this.

“Assuming the County Council endorse the recommendations of their officers, we look forward to hearing the views of local residents when the Council’s proposals are published in the Site Allocations Plan document in the coming months.”

The plan is due to be issued in October. As described by the agents in the submission, it is to include 88 detached, 116 semi-detached, 46 terraced houses, and 48 flats; and the development is to be split into two main “hubs” either side of the existing railway, with pedestrian and cycle access.

The Christian charity Housing Justice has said that the lack of communication between the Church Commissioners and the community was “genuinely a shame”. It chief executive Alison Gelder said: “There is definitely a need for more genuinely affordable housing in Cornwall. . . [but] developments such as that proposed for Falmouth should always be done in partnership with the local community, making sure that the churches’ views and concerns are taking into account.”

Another campaign group, It’s Our Cornwall, posted an image of the proposed plans on its Facebook page and commented: “Amazingly, they claim [that the] building here will have no adverse visual effects, no significant environmental impacts, minimal traffic impact and no ‘significant effects. . . on cultural heritage’.

“What does the Bible say about landlords like this — ‘they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition’ (1 Timothy 6:9).”

The Vicar of St Gluvias, Penryn, the Revd Stephen Wales, replied: “This is the first I’ve heard of it. I will be seeking clarification from the Archdeacon. As Parish Priest one would have thought I would have been told, sadly not. If truly social housing it might be justifiable, but I suspect it won’t be.”

The Archdeacon of Cornwall, the Ven. Bill Stuart, was unavailable for comment.

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