Hundreds of protesters gather outside County Hall

9 July 2019, 15:22

Hundreds of people have been gathered outside county hall in Truro today, campaigning about the over development of Cornwall.

Stop the destruction of Cornwall has been plastered across banners outside county hall in Truro, as hundreds of campaigners have gathered today calling for the council to listen to them.

A facebook group set up to talk about the issue has over 1,200 members, and they’ve written a letter to every Cornwall councillor saying the houses which are being built are not truly affordable for local people.

In the letter, the group says “Cornwall is seeing the largest number of house builds per population in the UK - but still has 20,000 on the Housing Needs register! Only a very small proportion of homes built in recent years are truly affordable or council home rentals. The Council defines affordable as 80% of market prices however this is unaffordable on local low wages.

"We have concerns about the planning system and how applications which are refused by the Council are then overturned at appeal by a government-appointed planning inspector. If Cornwall Council refuses a development then the developer can appeal to an unelected planning inspector who almost always overturns the Cornwall Council decision. So there is no local democratic accountability over planning decisions at all.

"We are seeing mainly unsympathetic development encroaching onto and spoiling the surroundings of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage mining sites."

Campaigners say too many new housing developments are being built, but not enough is being done to the local infrastructure to deal with it.

In a written statement to us, Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for homes, said:  “Our priority is to make Cornwall a great place to live and work by using our resources wisely to create more homes and jobs for our residents while respecting the natural beauty of Cornwall.

“Providing affordable housing is important to our residents, with 40% of people responding to our residents’ survey in 2017 telling us affordable housing is the most important factor in making Cornwall a good place to live.   

“We aim to build the right homes in the right place to meet local needs – so that our children have the opportunity to stay in Cornwall.  

“We make sure all new developments protect and enhance our environment and we will step in to ensure that happens, as we have done at Langarth to the west of Truro.

“Our planning policies are robust because our Local Plan was adopted in 2016 and we are delivering against the targets set within it.  We are using this strong policy position to protect Cornwall from speculative and poorly planned developments. The importance of the local plan is demonstrated by the fact that we successfully defended 13% more planning appeals in 2017 than 2016.

“In reality only around 5% of Cornwall is actually built on - and there are stringent planning laws in place to protect what makes Cornwall special. 

“We will continue to work with all our communities to create a vibrant and sustainable Cornwall, which protects and preserves our unique landscape for generations to come.”