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The ‘Developing’ Situation

Posted by on December 6, 2013 in Reports and Opinion - No comments

‘The Battle for the land’

The current situation is complex. Following the loss of the Tolgarrick fight we are now seeing applications coming in for more houses at Threemilestone, at Willow Green and Higher Besore. The latter was obtained as part of a land-swap some time ago which enabled Cornwall Council to develop the Langarth park and ride facility. It was a County Farm, sequestered by Education to build a new Richard Lander School upon. No money was ever received by County Farms for the farm, and now about thirty acres of it will be developed out of agricultural use. It is currently on an annual letting to Lower Besore Farm, another County Farm. How long before that falls under the planners rapacious lens?

The County Farms estate is one of Cornwall’s great treasures – about 11,000 acres and about 100 farms, but being constantly reduced as the result of advice about viability which is increasingly influenced by the idea that the only farming that can be successful is to be achieved on an industrial basis – an approach which is belied by the facts as small holders tend to be flexible, to be tenacious and innovative  and to manage land as much for its landscape and biodiversity value as for its food production value, because most small holders have feet in farming, the visitor trade and, very often, value adding.

 

Tregurra park and ride

The Tregurra park and ride remains somewhat uncertain – it is hard to guage what the odds are of it proceeding but my guess is that it will, eventually, go ahead. Meanwhile, works continue at Trafalgar Roundabout – ground conditions have not been helpful in finishing the landscaping. The controversial bus gate, with its lights on the north-bound carriageways, is ready to open. It awaits the park and ride!

There is widespread anxiety about the operation of the bus gate, but this has been somewhat eclipsed recently by the confusion in using the Trafalgar Roundabout. It has, according to reports, speeded up traffic and the discipline of selecting lane and being guided round to exit contrasts with the more usual approach. Lights and lines are both in need to ‘tweaking’ and so the trial by error period is now at hand!

 

Snippets!

  1. I was told by Mr England that the Planning Dept has a list of projects which need to be completed. This is, apparently, a new Government instruction! 15 & 16 St Clement Street are on it. Cross your breath and hold your fingers!
  2. Meanwhile, the unedifying saga of the unfinished eco-pods at Williams Court goes on. Senior planners express consternation at the quality of the decision which allowed them to gain consent, but nobody seems willing to assist the owner of the neighbouring property, whose property is now, effectively, blighted.
  3. We are to witness the triumphant arrival of Primark at some point soon. This will herald a re-modelling of the interior functions of several of the Marks & Spencers small satellite units and, so they say, will be a shot in the arm for the youth retail trade in Truro. It remains to be seen whether there will be any effect on Lemon Quay, with two major forces exerting pressure.
  4. The re-surfacing of Boscawen Street is partially finished. The tarmac patches are temporary, and have enabled Wales and West to make way for the Christmas trade. South West Water and Balfour Beatty have quit Victoria Square, and left it in good condition, and are now working in ‘upper’ Kenwyn Street.

Light pollution – what action?

Daphne Worraker has raised the matter of the remaining light pollution, which tends to emanate from private premises such as Truro School all-weather pitch. I wonder if we should consider seeking advice from the Dark Sky Society, which has been influential in promoting adoption of directive, modern street lighting.

 

Cornish Buildings Group

I attended the Cornish Buildings Group Christmas Dinner at the Pandora. I’m glad to say that TCS membership is being warmly welcomed and, with Caroline and Ian Jones (who are members) we heard about the phoenix-like rebuilding of the Pandora, which has been done very well. The owner is also a CBG member and he enthusiastically spoke about the principles of architectural integrity and good design – all very heartening.

One of the outcomes of this new link is that I have now agreed with John Stengelhofen, who is fully recovered from various things, to organise a joint lecture by John to explore the buildings in Truro from the post-war period which we should be striving to conserve and protect, and why. I envisage this taking place in mid-March 2014. I hope you are agreeable to this and would welcome an indication from the committee that this should occur. It is an important subject.

 

Recording Truro Police Station

I am also able to report that, after much correspondence with various limbs of the Police Force, I have obtained permission for John Jacobs (the photographer) to undertake a photographic study of both interior and exterior of Truro Police Station before it is demolished to make way for 56 sheltered housing flats, for which consent has now been granted, I understand – a decision which frankly beggars belief when you consider the proximity of the site to Tregolls Road and Trafalgar Roundabout. I understand that a Public Health objection on the grounds of adverse air pollution has not deterred consent being granted. The output of this project ewill, I hope, be put-up on the TCS website.

 

Higher Newham Farm

There is a consultative process going on to ascertain opinion regarding an application to build houses on the crown of Higher Newham, whilst offering land for community food production around the outskirts. As the part of this invaluable and well-farmed landscape which plays the greatest part in the life of Truro is the crown of the hill, which is a prominent landscape feature, close to, and affecting the AONB, which plays a key role in affirming and defining the rural setting of Truro. I personally cannot accede to houses being built there – we simply do have to make a stand. In the past few months Truro has burst over its bounding hilltops, towards Tresillian, Feock and towards Chiverton. The scale of development now permitted is far beyond the ability of either our infrastructure or economy to accommodate it – there is confusion about future sewage provision for new development, over a ‘northern access road’ and who will pay for it, and overwhat value is to be placed upon the impact of commercial development upon the town centre – the £154k offered by Cornwall Council, the Duchy of Cornwall and Waitrose is derisory, especially when compared with amounts offered by others on Penzance and Hayle.

With Coyte Farm at St Austell threatening up to 12% trade loss for Truro, Waitrose claiming a 9% impact and an ASDA looming at Threemilestone (not to mention something as yet unspecified at the Football Ground), and with a commercial property market skewed by Cornwall Council shedding surplus property, we are in what we used to describe at Treliske School as ‘schtukk!’

 

Urban extension of St Clement – a future risk?

To end I draw your attention to the damage recently inflicted upon one of the two granite posts that emphasise the entrance to Lambessow, atop St Clement Hill, next door to the Rugby Field. This has been struck by a tradesman’s van and broken. There is a difference of opinion abo0ut its historic value and uncertainty about who was responsible. The post lies broken – a small but long-standing and much-loved landmark. I would like to ask if we would consider making a small contribution (say £100) towards its repair or replacement. If you are agreeable then I would like to issue a press release to draw attention to both the post and the contribution.

Lambessow and much surrounding land is owned by the Duchy. Bearing in mind the current activities at both Tregurra and  Newquay, where the Duchy, whilst its constitutional leader pontificates in Country Life about green fields being as valuable as ancient cathedrals, is industriously removing its land from agriculture and instead ‘farming’ houses. I suspect that we must prepare to see some more exploitation of deference as the tweed-suited brigade roll out plans for an urban extension (how politely genteel is sounds!) for St Clement, so that the village doesn’t lag behind its neighbour in advancing concretely into the future – perhaps the destruction of Professor Thomas’ gate post is a sign of destructive things to come.

Bert Biscoe

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