Skip to main content

Housing housing housing

Housing, the local plan and all that jazz is not something I often really comment on. There was a big vote at Cornwall Council on tuesday to decide the numbers for the period 2010-2030. Penzance featured quite heavily with a motion by Councilors Cornelius Olivier and Tim Dwelly seeking to push the numbers for the Penzance area up significantly, in this they failed quite badly. So the Local Plan has new draft figures (the last council voted on figures and these have been revisited) and we have some sense what kind of idea of the housing numbers we are looking at for the next 17 years.

The numbers are 1,400 for Penzance/ Newlyn and 1,100 for the rest of the area, a 2,500 total. With the caveat that these numbers will go out to consultation of course. The defeated Labour amendment was for an increase to 2,500 for Penzance and 1,350 for the area outside Penzance (see the white area in the map below.) To put this in perspective there are 20,623 households in the Network Area (1,273 empty in Penzance Newlyn alone), the population growth of this area in the last 20 years has been 5.7% (5% for PZ/N).  If we take the average of 2.2 people per household as in the last census for the town, we are looking at a population increase of 5500 across the area, the defeated amendment would have equaled 8470.

A quick word about the vote the reason the motion proposed by the Penzance Central and Penzance East councilors failed, was it lacked support. I know it's an obvious point, I did feel sorry for the pair of them who looked very ganged up on as a quick succession of councilors got up and spoke against it. With the exception of Roy Mann who represents Ludgvan, councilors for Marazion, Penzance Central, Newlyn and Mousehole, Gulval and Heamoor and St Buryan all spoke giving valid reasons they didn't support the Labour plan. Such as no consultation for change with towns and parishes, let alone the general public, no consideration for the effect on infrastructure, no consideration for employment. And other criticisms of a narrow argument to grow the housing stock in Penwith by 15% for the sake of it. As a result on the webcast you can hear the Chair quickly count to 6 and stop all presumably from the Labour and Co-op group's 8. 

The other reason it lacked support was that any building increases in the Local Plan would inevitably fall upon the neighbouring wards. Save for the nightmare scenarios of building on Lescudjack Hill Fort, or the Rec or the roundabout in Treneere there isn't significant room for development in Penzance East. Similarly in Central and Promenade, there is only Penlee park, the Magpies football ground, the Mennaye and a few car parks where any of the proposed (and defeated) 2,500 homes would go. As a consequence they would have to be built in adjacent wards particularly on green fields around Gulval, Heamoor and Newlyn, with the real prospect of creating a huge conurbation of continuous housing around Penzance itself.  This was true of the rural area too, the Labour group voted for their quota to increase from 1000 to 1350 again nonsensically without the support of councilors for that area.

Just a few comments to finish, the idea that Penzance should grow by 15% for the sake of growth itself is a misguided concept in my opinion. The story of demographics in the town is that when the economy has been good the town population grew when it has been bad (decline of mining, quarrying, fishing) the town shrank as people moved away. The key to growth, the key to keeping people here is jobs, pure and simple. The population of Penzance in 2001 census was 21,168 in the ten years until 2011 this grew by a mere 21,200, this is a reflection of the state of the economy and the recession in that period. Where people move will always reflect the jobs market, to try to inflate population growth by allowing building lacks sense. I've said it before and I'll say it again here, the amount of housing in the next 17 years is an emotive issue, some may disagree with me some may agree, I say this because that's what I found on the doorstep in the election campaign. Politics needs to be about public input, it needs to be about community engagement and having political debates in public forums. I really hope now and in the future crucial decisions like this, that will greatly effect the shape, character and destiny of this town will have public engagement at the fore and be presented with researched evidence. Call me an idealist with some form of cross party support!

Grateful to the Our Cornwall blog for some of the statistics that I used, from this blog

Popular posts from this blog

The 3 actions Penzance Town Centre needs from Cornwall Council

My name is Rob Simmons and I'm a candidate for Penzance East in this Thursdays Cornwall Council election and these are my 3 priorities for our town centre:  1 Action on reducing Parking Fees  2 Action on unfair business rates 3 Action on empty shops and buildings.  I firmly believe that Cornwall Council ought to do more to support Penzance Town Centre and these 3 changes would be a massive leap forward.

1.Action on Parking Fees, Penzance has some of the highest parking fees in Cornwall, we all know that it puts people off coming to town and crucially shoppers from staying for longer periods. With out of town retail parks popping up everywhere and the lure and convenience of the internet our town centre needs help. Cornwall Council must do it's part in supporting the town centre. Penzance needs a Cornwall Councillor that will lobby to change this and find a solution that benefits us and stops CC seeing Penzance as a way of making money. We need to see a major overhaul of parking…

Why I'm voting to stay in the EU and why I think you should too

I haven't interacted much with the European Referendum campaign much. Perhaps it's because I'm too much of a political nerd and would love to see people debating the policies of the European Parliament rather than various name calling and scare mongering but anyway... There's a great deal to not like about the European Union. I'm not a defender of everything it does and the way it conducts itself. But I can say the same about a whole host of institutions and authorities. Which is why this post focuses  on a few of the things I think are important. I think the European Union is fundamentally a good idea. For 2 principle reasons, 1 the formation of the EU and greater European cooperation and understanding has led to the longest period of European peace in recorded history. If the history of Europe tells us anything then we are better off working with each other than we are fighting each other. I know that the EU will continue to exist if the UK votes to leave on th…

Meeting with Premier Inn about proposed Branwell's Mill development

As many of you will have read online and in the local papers. Premier Inn are interested in setting up a hotel in Branwell's Mill in Penzance. Last night members of the Town Council were invited to a presentation by the agents from the hotel chain in St John's Hall. The Town Council rightly has a clear position that it is neutral on this development. Due to Code of Conduct rules and particularly Section 25 of the Localism Act, councillors must not enter debates with a closed mind. Or to put in plain terms the council and councillors can not be seen to have made a decision before the meeting and before they see the facts before them of that meeting. As with any planning application in the parish of Penzance it will be reviewed, debated and voted on by Penzance Town Council  Added to the fact that I've seen a presentation for the developers but not been able to speak to hear other sides of the story. This post is primarily to inform yourselves of what is happening rather th…