Steve Double, Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay has today questioned the Minister for Housing and Planning on the controversial northern expansion planning application recently submitted yet again by WainHomes on land north of Cornwall College in St Austell.
The developer wants to profit on by covering the 44 acre site with 300 homes, a primary school, shops and open spaces.
Speaking today in parliament, Steve said:
“Housing developer WainHomes have recently submitted a planning application for 300 houses on land in St Austell that is not allocated for development in the Town Framework. The council consulted heavily in producing the Framework and found that 95% of local people who responded do not want this land developed.”
“I appreciate the Minister cannot comment on individual planning applications. But does he agree with me that if permissions are granted on sites that have been excluded for development after consultation and a democratic process it will do little to promote the public’s confidence in the planning system.”
In response, the Minister said:
“I share my honourable friend’s determination that we have a plan-led system in this country. It is therefore vital that local authorities get plans in place and in that regard I was delighted to see that Cornwall Council voted to adopt their plan on 22 November”
He was referring to the Local Plan adopted at Cornwall Council last week that gave approval for 52,000 new builds across Cornwall.
The controversial plans by developer Wain Homes to build on land behind the Cornwall College campus were first submitted in 2010, then reshaped a couple of times before the latest application was submitted last month. Every time a plan gets submitted it gets roundly rejected by the local community, St Austell Town Council, the previous MP and now his successor.
Speaking later, Steve said:
“I have always opposed applications for housing on the land north of Cornwall College in St Austell and remain opposed to the current application.”
“I wrote to the Head of Planning at Cornwall Council about this when the most recent plans surfaced and received an unsatisfactory answer.”
“With this in mind and in light of recent concerns with how this application has been handled by Cornwall Council I thought the best thing to do would be to raise this matter at the very highest level in order to highlight what I believe are serious failings in the planning system here”
” I too am pleased that after years of discussion Cornwall Council has finally voted to adopt the Cornwall local plan. It is therefore a shame to see Cornwall Council’s planning department seemingly ignore important parts of St Austell’s Town Framework, itself a vital part of the Cornwall Plan, in order to allow this application to go ahead.
I will continue to monitor this application closely and urge Cornwall Council to do the right thing here and reject this completely unsuitable application.”
The protracted dispute has often been acrimonious and bitter on both sides and now is set to continue with a decision expected in January.
A spokesperson for respected campaign group It’s Our Cornwall reacted this afternoon by saying
“So if his Government’s Inspector finds in favour of Wainhomes at appeal, will Steve Double call for the devolution of strategic planning to Cornwall so that we are no longer constrained by the developers’ charter that is the National Planning Policy Framework?