The Planning Application
An outline planning application (PA16/06414) for site development to provide up to 150 residential units (including 35% affordable housing), open space, play space, assocaited infrastructure (including remaining structures and works to the public highway), access, parking, servicing and landscaping, on land at College Farm, College Hill, Penryn was submitted to Cornwall Council on 11 July 2016. The application was considered by Penryn Town Council at its meeting of the Planning Committee on Tuesday 2 August 2016 when the Town Council responded as follows:
RESOLVED that the Town Council objects to the application due to an unworkable highways scheme, inadequate surveys in relation to archaeology and ecology, the lack of turning space for fire appliances, and the absence of community gain promised in earlier discussion with the developer in regards to allotments and the creation of a ‘green corridor’ in public ownership linking the site to the reservoir.
Have Your Say
There are a number of ways in which to make your views known on the both the Development Plan Document and the planning application. The Development Plan Document will go through a decision-making process at Cornwall Council which begins with a public consultation, details of which will be published as and when they become available. Details of Cornwall Council meetings at which the DPD will be discussed will also be published here.
All Town Council meetings are open to the public, however, they are meetings of the Council, as opposed to public meetings, which means that although there is a provision for public speaking, Councillors will hear what the public speakers have to say, but any debate will be later in the meeting during the agenda item and will be restricted to Councillors only. A copy of the Town Council's Protocol for Public Speaking at Meetings is available here.
A large part of this site is within the Budock Parish and therefore Cornwall Council has a duty to consult with Budock Parish Council on both the DPD and the planning application. Contact details for Budock Parish Council are available here.
Tuesday 2 August 2016 - Planning Committee. The meeting will include consideration of the outline application for 150 residential units on land at College Farm, College Hill, Penryn.
Wednesday 11 May 2016 - Informal meeting with Walker Developments and the Town Council
Tuesday 3 May 2016 - Planning Committee. The meeting included a pre-planning presentation by Walker Developments on their updated plans. Please follow the link below for a copy of the presentation. Minutes of the meeting will be uploaded shortly.
Please note that the information contained within this pre-application presentation is for information purposes only and could be subject to change prior to submission of a planning application.
Monday 2 March 2015 - Council. Included consideration of the Council's response to the petition from the Glasney Green Space Regeneration Project.
Wednesday 18 February 2015 - Public Meeting. An opportunity for members of the public to make their views known on the petition from the Glasney Green Space Regeneration Group.
Monday 16 February 2015 - Planning Committee. The meeting included a pre-planning presentation by Walker Developments on proposals for a development on land at College Valley. A copy of the minutes is available here. Please follow the links below for a copy of the presentation:
Statement from the Town Council
The College Valley versus North Penryn housing prioritisation
The Council recognises that there has not been a planning land use decision which has aroused so much passion and local debate as that involved in the decision as to which development site to drop, in relation to the local Development Plan Document (DPD), since the controversy over the Strawberry Fields allocation in East Penryn. The account below outlines the background to this matter.
At its March 2015 meeting, Penryn Town Council overturned the decision to prioritise the location of new housing at College Valley, as originally identified and approved at its January meeting, in favour of one showing revised boundaries which removed a massive 2.75 hectares from the lower fields to the north of the College Industrial Estate buildings and the access road to the South West Water (SWW) treatment works, by relocating the allocation to the higher ground above the SWW road. This shifted the proposed development a further 200 metres from Glasney Valley
Since the January meeting, your Council has worked intensively, holding at least ten meetings, both public and with various interested parties, in order to address public concern while, at the same time, fulfilling its statutory duty to weigh up and consider all the evidence available to it in order to come to a balanced conclusion. Representations by Penryn Town Council to Cornwall Council have resulted in them agreeing to consider an amendment to the boundaries on the low grade unused agricultural fields to the south of the SWW road below and out of sight of the Penryn bypass to accommodate the displaced homes. This amendment should allow a similar number of much-needed affordable homes to be delivered for the town. The matter was considered in depth by the 14 Town Councillors, all people from all walks of life and with few common interests. All but two of the Councillors agreed that this was the best way forward for the town, including two Councillors who had previously supported the alternative North Penryn site, as further examination of the issues had convinced them to change their minds.
In order to understand where Cornwall Council and the Town Council are on this matter, it is necessary to recap on where we have come from.
- In 2005 Carrick District Council commissioned a report (the Terence O’Rourke study) to examine housing need and allocation in Penryn. It concluded that the College Valley site was a suitable candidate and, indeed, proposed an area significantly larger and closer to Glasney Valley than that currently under consideration. This allocation involved a consultation process at the time.
- In 2010 the new Coalition Government, acting in response to a demand from people for housing numbers and location to be placed in the hands of local people rather than decided in Regional centres, rescinded the old Planning Acts and replaced them with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) under the Localism Act. This very short document basically allowed for a “Presumption to Approve” planning applications unless they were not sustainable and/or negatively impacted on protected areas such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
- The teeth to control this document, which in the absence of a Local Plan, has accurately been described as a developer’s charter, is for the County to produce a Local Plan backed up with DPDs which give numbers and location. The templates for this process included public consultation and steering groups involving local people.
- The 2010-30 Local Plan for Cornwall is now five years late and there is an urgent need for it to be approved by the Department for Communities and Local Government so that proper control can be re-established in the development environment. Cornwall Council has just sent the document off to central government for an initial screening to ensure that it complies with the Localism Agenda.
- The Local Plan concerned itself with establishing housing numbers which led to a lengthy and protracted debate within Cornwall. However a figure was established which is looking for 700 houses to be accommodated on a five year rolling supply basis for Falmouth and Penryn.
- Within Falmouth and Penryn, a process commenced in 2011 led by forward planning experts from Cornwall Council with a steering group of 14 people taken from both the councils and the community. This process commenced with 14 possible areas to accommodate the identified housing need and each one was examined exhaustively under a number of different tests such as: sustainability, landscape impact, proximity to town centre and public transport, highways issues, environmental and ecological impact, agricultural land value, flood risk, deliverability (meaning that the land owner was willing to see it developed for housing) and capacity to maximise the delivery of affordable housing.
- This process by degrees whittled down the initial candidate sites to just two for Penryn – College Valley and North Penryn. The draft proposals were put out to consultation in August 2012, well reported by the press at the time, and a travelling roadshow included a display in Penryn Town Hall. The consultation produced little to no opposition, although Penryn Town Council maintained its long established position of opposition to any housing to the south of the railway viaduct.
- Towards the end of 2014, it became apparent that Penryn Town Council’s Planning Committee’s work, encouraging the take-up of brownfield, infill and windfall sites, had reduced housing requirements overall which would allow it to drop one of the two pre-existing zoned areas. Cornwall Council revisited the large professional body of work which was in place following the Development Plan Document process and concluded that North Penryn was a less desirable site for housing than College Valley under almost every test. At the Town Council’s January 2015 meeting, Penryn was asked to endorse Cornwall Council’s assessment, which it did on the basis of the strong evidence being put to it.
- Since that time a number of single issue groups raised great concern and the Council arranged new venues to accommodate members of the public at its formal meetings, opportunities for them to address Councillors and a dedicated public meeting for the town. It was put to various leaders of the protests that in order for the Council to reject the College Valley site and instead prioritise North Penryn, robust, evidence-based arguments of a similar or better quality than those which had been developed over the previous four years’ work during the DPD process would be essential, as the only way for Councillors to overturn a previous resolution would be for new information to be made available. Two critical pieces of information which did come forward were that English Heritage had belatedly examined the impact of the North Penryn site on the AONB to the north and expressed concern, this being one of the deal breakers for the NPPF “Presumption to Approve” approach. The other was that, despite the publicity, the land owners at North Penryn were not defending their allocation, indicating a reluctance to pass it over for housing which meant the proposal would fail the five year supply test. It was understood by all Councillors from the January meeting onwards, that a degree of opposition was bound to arise from some residents and this factor was always taken into account as part of the overall assessment of the pros and cons of the options available to be taken in the best interests of Penryn. Subsequently, although much criticism was made of the College Valley site, insufficient evidence was presented to Councillors concerning the relative merits of the North Penryn site to convince them that they should move the allocation from one to the other. In recognition of the representations made by some groups within the town, the Council was however successful in securing an alteration to the boundaries of the proposed zoning thereby mitigating impact on Glasney Valley, as noted above.
The Town Council recognises and understands that this decision will not be popular in all quarters but also has to recognise responsibility to plan for the inevitability of population growth in the least damaging way for the town overall.