People objecting to a housing development near St. Ives say that Cornwall Council has ignored a recommendation made by a planning inspector and refused to stop building on the site.
Outline planning permission for 21 homes to be built on land at Tyringham Road in Lelant was granted on appeal by the planning inspectorate in 2015.
However the appeal was allowed on condition that when a reserved matters application was submitted it should be accompanied by a “detailed economic viability assessment”.
However when the reserved matters application was submitted to Cornwall Council there was no economic viability assessment provided but the council granted planning permission under delegated powers.
Objectors say there is a crucial need for a viability assessment not only to fulfil the conditions set by the planning inspector but to also address concerns that there are former mining works running underneath the site which they claim could prove unsafe to build on.
They say that as such the work which is currently taking place on the site is unlawful and that the council should be using its enforcement powers to stop it until the conditions have been satisfied.
An email sent from the office of council chief executive Kate Kennally admits that there was no viability assessment included as part of the planning application but said the council had been satisfied with an earlier development viability report which was produced in 2012.
But campaigners say this is not valid as it predates the inspector’s condition and also does not address the concerns over mining works in the area.
The council’s legal department has claimed that the condition had been discharged through a viability assessment which was carried out by the council’s own affordable housing team in May 2016.
Campaigners say that this assessment is not what had been requested by the planning inspector so does not comply with the condition.
This week Cornwall Council Cabinet member for housing, Andrew Mitchell, who is also a St Ives councillor, suggested that the disagreement was for the planning inspectorate to resolve.
In an email he wrote: “The Council has admitted it did not carry out the instructions in the clearest of ways and the solution, in my view, is to write to the Inspectorate and ask if what the council did do met or didn’t meet what the Inspector required. This then clears up the issue either way.”
However, when we contacted the planning inspectorate to see whether it would be able to intervene it said that the responsibility lies with Cornwall Council.
A spokesman said: “The decision and any conditions attached to it is a matter for the local planning authority to consider or enforce. Once a decision has been issued the planning inspectorate has no further responsibility to how that decision is applied.”
Hayden Garrood, a St Ives town councillor and concerned resident, has been battling with the council to get it to take responsibility.
He said he had handed the latest email from Cllr Mitchell to MP Derek Thomas and said it would be passed to the office of James Brokenshire, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government.
Mr Garrood said: “The council and its planning system can’t go on like this.
“If Cornwall Council can decide to ignore a condition from the planning inspectorate God help the country.”
Mr Garrood and the Tyringham Action Group have had to take legal advice to help them in their fight against Cornwall Council.
But Mr Garrood is concerned that others might not be so determined if they come up against problems with planning applications.
He said the issue with the council ignoring the conditions set by the planning inspector could be one which has also happened elsewhere in the country and changes may have to be brought in to prevent councils from ignoring such recommendations.
In a statement Cornwall Council said: “These issues have been scrutinised through the council’s complaints procedure and we are satisfied that the information submitted complied with the wording of the planning inspector’s conditions. This site has been granted consent and will deliver much needed affordable homes in line with the council’s priorities.”