Carnyorth Outdoor Activity Centre …Update

Posted on: 26th May 2022

Local residents have set up a petition to ensure that people throughout Cornwall can have a voice on the future of this facility; continuing to put pressure on Cornwall Council not to sell it off to the highest bidder

Link to Petition for you to sign…please

As many of you will know, I went as Mayor fo St Just, to County Hall on Tuesday and raised questions re the proposed closure and sale of Carnyorth Outdoor Activity Centre; a resource that benefits the children of Cornwall not just St Just/ West Cornwall. Cornwall Councillors also raised their concerns and the questions and answers are fully transcribed for you below.

Question: Mayor of St Just Sue James

Public consultation demonstrated enthusiasm for Carnyorth outdoors centre to continue to provide services for young people and credible organisations want to run them. What have you and will you do to ensure meaningful talks with those organisations to secure the future of Carnyorth outdoor activity centre so Cornish young people can continue to benefit beyond July.

And this is their stories (big sheath of paper) some of them from Cornwall

Answer: Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek (Cabinet Member)

The cabinet decision made in March 2022 confirmed that Cornwall council would cease its outdoor education service and, in line with council approved Asset management process and the code of practice for land and property transactions, consider alternative internal use and subsequent disposal of outdoor education sites.

In this instance there is no identified alternative internal use meaning the site has been declared by property as surplus to requirements

The site will now in accordance with established process be marketed on a freehold basis but will, in the first instance, be marketed subject to its existing use. This approach provides the best opportunity to repurpose assets in order to support other council objectives, for example affordable housing, and freehold disposal helps remove risks, liabilities and costs around backlog maintenance and statutory compliance, particularly in respect of assets in poor condition

Marketing subject to existing use helps ensure any potential alternative providers have the maximum opportunity to secure the asset and continue its current use

Question: Cllr Thalia Marrington

So my question relates to Carnyorth outdoors centre. My question really is I’m worried I’m trying to work out if it’s just being looked at purely in terms of financials these sorts of decisions because when I looked at, or listened to your speech just now and we talk about being a brilliant place to be a child and grow up and you said we’re listening loudly and clearly, we’re making the decisions that will affect children for years to come, that we’re making better opportunities for young people to unlock these young people’s potential. I’m just trying to work out is this just about balancing books? Somebody, I think Cllr Mole, talked about affordable housing, but is there another way and is that important what Carnyorth do/deliver?

Answer: Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek (Cabinet Member)

In terms of Carnyorth…the cabinet actually decided in March this year that cornwall council will cease outdoor education service. Now that was done on the back of our budget which was that the cost of running the outdoor education service as a whole in Cornwall was something that we couldn’t sustain. Um so that is why that decision was made and you will all have been part of that decision making, whether you agreed with it or not, it was passed by full council so that is why that has happened with outdoor education.

Because Carnyorth has no identified alternative use, in other words the site itself has been declared as surplus to requirements um what we’ve done is the process always is when we have property that is surplus to requirements, they’re marketed on a freehold basis but at the first instance they’ll be marketed subject to existing use so if for example somebody comes along who wants to run an outdoor education centre from Carnyorth then that’s what they would be able to do because that’s what the first bit of marketing is. Once that period of time has gone, then it will go on to the open market. So it’s we’re not saying we don’t want it to happen like that, what we are saying to the market is there is a facility here if somebody thinks they can purchase it and perhaps carry on with the outdoor education facility from there then that’s what they’re able to do. So I hope that clarifies things

Question: Cllr Thalia Marrington

I think my supplementary. Linda, you’ll be down tomorrow um so I’ve got just two things, I mean I hear what you’re saying would you potentially consider looking at if St Just Town council and that various people, that we could be considered again. And would you look at the documents if I can get hold of them, can you actually look at those documents that the children have written because I just go back to what you’ve just said about we are listening loudly and clearly, we’re making the decisions affecting children for years to come, and better opportunities for young people and I just can’t help thinking we’ve got to look further and I think the period of time that was given before, sorry I don’t know who to direct to, but that period of time was quite short that it was decided that they weren’t suitable so could you look again at if something suitable came forward

Answer: Cllr Linda Taylor (Leader of Cornwall Council)

I’m quite happy to continue to quote what was actually said this morning, so marketing is subject to existing use and to help ensure that any potential alternative providers have the maximum opportunity to secure the asset and continue its current use, thank you

Question: Cllr Brian Clemens

I’ll direct my question to Cllr Ellenbroek, but I’m quite happy for a response from any of the cabinet members that were responsible for the decision to sell off the Carnyorth centre. My question is quite simple:

Are you aware that any proposals to market Carnyorth outdoor activity centre as suitable for anything other than the community use will be contrary to policy AD6 of St Just’s adopted neighbourhood development plan?  I’m a little bit disappointed it even got this far after the recommendations that came from the scrutiny committee that I sit on. And I have to say that our chairman James Musto(?) did a brilliant job in collating what I thought were a number of very sensible and very reasonable requests regarding the outdoors centres. I’m quite happy to take an answer from anybody

Answer: Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek (Cabinet Member)

Um yes as I say the decision was made at cabinet that the two sites Delaware and Carnyorth were surplus to requirements and therefore the council’s policy is to do what has been done so in other words is marketing the premises.

However, they are being marketed at the moment on a freehold basis subject at the moment to its current use. So my suggestion for what its worth and I’m not a property expert would be that if St Just council and various other people think that they want to take it over as a going concern then they need to get together and put an offer in, I mean, I don’t know because I haven’t asked the question and I will find out but I suspect that if a community type use came along that that would be the best outcome for all of us but I will certainly get more detail and hopefully again feed that back to you tomorrow and again make sure that members hear about it as well

Question: Cllr Loveday Jenkin

This is for Barbara again, Barbara Ellenbroek and in relation to Carnyorth:

The cabinet decision that this building was surplus to requirement: I’ve seen no real evidence of any community consultation to that effect and she will know as well as I do that if it’s marketed on a freehold basis it will lose its community use. It is incredibly of value to west Cornwall and the young people of west Cornwall. Even Helston pupils have been there for outdoor education experiences, so it’s not just the local parish that its of importance to. The declaration of surplus to requirements and moving to a formal procurement process precludes any sort of community devolution ask. So I would ask her whether she would be prepared to withdraw from a formal procurement process and commence discussion with St Just Town council and other local partners about a devolution deal for the building for community use for the benefit of young people in west Cornwall

Answer: Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek (Cabinet Member)

Thank you for that there was a lot of community consultation about the whole concept behind adult adult education, sorry, outdoor education which was undertaken as we all know back at the end of last year so the residents there had an opportunity to express their positions. As far as I’m aware I’m not able to ask that to be overturned but I will ask the question of the relevant officers but as I say I come back to: the first opportunity is for community groups to actually say we want to take it over it is actually written there I mean I’ve said it, I think this is probably the third time I’ve said it: marketed on a freehold basis but will in the first instance be marketed subject to its existing use so therefore local community groups including the town council including multi academy trusts who I think have had some interest in it as well are perfectly able to get together and make that proposal. That is my understanding. As I say if I’m wrong I will make sure that the correct answer gets out to you

Question: Cllr Loveday Jenkin

Sorry, I mean its all very well to say marketed on a freehold basis, but this building was built by the people of Cornwall for the children of Cornwall it was built as a school in the first place, it was then used and developed for outdoor education for the benefit of the children of Cornwall. To not even consider devolving it to the local parish prior to a procurement exercise smacks to me of lack of listening to the consultation. The consultation that did take place, the evidence that I saw, was that the community really wanted to keep that building for community use, so if there is any way, and Barbara you will know that the best way to develop community buildings and community resources is to work with the community and not market it on a freehold basis and if there is any way you can actually influence this I would ask you to do it because it would be such a sad loss if it’s turned into flats or housing or second homes which is what it will be if its marketed on a freehold basis.

Answer: Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek (Cabinet Member)

Taking it away to respond later


By Wednesday, when Linda Taylor was due to come to Penzance to meet with residents and previously submitted questions were showing community passion for this brilliant resource, I was getting word that meaningful dialogue might be on the cards, and that as your Mayor, I will be at the table.

We now have 10 weeks to come up with a Business Case for Community or other ownership that will allow the Centre to continue. That is not long BUT, we still have the application to register it as an Asset of Community Value in, and that would give hold off any commercial sale for 6 months.

So, going to be lots of talking to those that might secure this but at least it’s importance is recognised and some time is being given. Might need some very rapid fundraising but hopefully we can find ways to buy more time for any significant fundraising targets.