Trewellard Sunday School & Field
Wearing 2 hats (yes I know that sounds silly) as local Cornwall Councillor and Chair of Lands End Peninsula Community Land Trust, I was asked to attend a site meeting at Trewellard Sunday School with an officer from the affordable housing team and a representative of the local Methodist circuit.
For those unaware, the Chapel and Sunday school fell into disuse in 2005. Whilst the Chapel was sold, legal complications have prevented the sale of the Sunday school and field next to it. I have watched it fall into disrepair – very sad! The most recent storms caused slates to fly around and, for public safety, they had to be removed.
The good news is that the legal situation is resolved. The bad news is that it will likely be sold to the highest bidder and, whilst the planning process will place some restrictions on what can happen there, the community voice could be minimal. Many will think that anything there will be better than how it looks today!
Since 2009, the Land Trust has expressed an interest in the site, wanting to explore the possibilities of the buildings being converted to workspaces or to use a fashionable term a ‘work hub’. Thoughts for the field have been for some combination of housing (primarily for local people) and half sized allotments. It has always been likely that when the site was free to be sold that the Land Trust would not be able to raise the funds to buy it as to do so without planning consent and a clear financial plan, would be impossible for a very small charity. The Land Trust is however there to obtain land for community benefit and, if there was a way to buy it, the Trust would be able to consult and take local views for use into account. This would obviously be within the constraint of plans being financially viable.
It is a long shot, but I just wonder whether there are sufficient local people with available cash to allow the Trust to buy it for the community? Being a realist, I don’t expect some-one to ring and offer me a blank cheque but a few people willing to loan or donate money to stop it going for open sale would buy the local community a little time.
The representative from the Methodist circuit is willing to give the Land Trust first refusal but once the valuation comes in we would have to be ready to move and they cannot wait for a community consultation or planning consent to be gained. It will likely go to auction.