Affordable homes to be built in Cornwall town Newlyn after being turned down because of traffic concerns

Article by Lee Trewhela from Cornwall Live, see original article here.

A community land trust in Cornwall has won an appeal to build 29 affordable homes for local people after a Cornwall Council planning committee turned down the application last July citing concerns about it creating more traffic on roads in the area. The site, in Newlyn, was recently featured on the BBC documentary Simon Reeve’s Return to Cornwall in a discussion about the housing crisis.

CGI of the proposed new affordable homes for Newlyn which have been granted planning approval on appeal

Planning permission was originally turned down despite Cornwall Council raising concerns about the current housing situation in the county, with thousands of people on the housing waiting list and hundreds of households in temporary accommodation. The council’s Cabinet has previously said that housing is its top priority.

Cornwall Community Land Trust (CLT) submitted the application to build a development which would be 100 per cent affordable on land at Chywoone Farm in Newlyn. The application had attracted a number of comments from locals with 98 people objecting and 25 in support. Planning officers had recommended that the application be approved.

The plans were for a mix of bungalows, flats and two and three-bedroom houses. It was proposed that 70 per cent of the properties would be for affordable rent and 30 per cent would be shared ownership with a legal agreement in place to give preference to people with a local connection to Newlyn, Mousehole and Paul to rent the properties.

After the application was refused, Jennifer Hawkins, development officer with Cornwall CLT, appealed against Cornwall Council’s decision. Planning inspector John Wilde has now found in the land trust’s favour.

Mr Wilde said: “I have found that the proposed development would not have a severe impact on the operation of Chywoone Hill and that access for all users would be safe and suitable.

“The scheme would provide 29 new affordable homes, and whilst I note some concern regarding the methodology used to arrive at the number of affordable homes needed in the immediate area, I am also aware that the document produced by the council entitled ‘Securing homes for all: A plan to address Cornwall’s housing crisis’ makes clear that ‘Cornwall needs a step change in the supply of new affordable homes’.

“The provision of these new affordable homes should be given significant weight when considering the social limb of sustainability. Furthermore, the process of development would provide jobs and bring income into the area, thereby aligning with the economic limb of sustainability.”

The inspector noted there was anecdotal evidence given by several members of the planning committee including that up to 20 tractors a day used Chywoone Hill, and that traffic had increased by 75 per cent over the past five years. However, no significant evidence was provided to support these contentions.

The inspector awarded Cornwall Community Land Trust costs against Cornwall Council, saying: “The councillors, having the report before them, and without having anything more than anecdotal evidence, decided to upgrade the highways officer’s advice after being prompted to use the word severe. This seems to me, in the absence of further significant evidence or objective analysis, to represent unreasonable behaviour, as described in the Planning Practice Guidance. This behaviour has caused the appellant to incur unnecessary or wasted expense on the appeal process and has delayed the development. A full award of costs is therefore justified.”

Andrew George, CEO of Cornwall Community Land Trust (Image: LDRS/Richard Whitehouse)

Andrew George, CEO of the land trust who is also a Cornwall councillor, said : “It should never have come to this. But our priority now is to get on with what the local community desperately needs and deserves, and that’s the delivery of good quality, secure and genuinely affordable homes for locals. Of course, we were disappointed with the council committee’s decision last July. Encouraged by local people in need, the Newlyn Housing Working Party and our determination to help local families, we appealed. We were confident we would win. We’ll do our very best to make up for the lost time and look forward to a happy outcome for local families.”

The site of the development was recently featured on the BBC documentary Simon Reeve’s Return to Cornwall. Standing in the field where the homes were proposed, the TV presenter and writer said: “This is an empty field on the edge of a community and an application went in for 29 affordable homes earmarked quite exclusively for local people. It was turned down and there was a lot of upset in the area and across the county.

“This was a local affordable homes initiative and the objections that were filed with the council were a little bit depressing really; people talking endlessly about the impact on transport and the roads, and people not really perhaps focusing on the fact that there are hundreds, there are thousands, of people in Cornwall who need an affordable place to live.”

Article by Lee Trewhela from Cornwall Live, see original article here.