The Truth About Cornwall’s Housing Numbers

Posted on: 14th March 2017

The truth about Cornwall’s housing numbers will not make the numbers in the Council’s Local Plan any smaller BUT it will give a better sense of proportion. Hopefully it will also help people understand that this is about taking back control of our planning system and without the Local Plan, all the balls were in the developers court.

I am providing a link to a simple and short (and I think fun) animation to explain about the Local Plan for Cornwall and to reassure people we really are not concreting over Cornwall!

Animation about Cornwall’s Local Plan

52,000 homes before 2030 does sound a lot BUT we should have got the plan in place in 2010 so that is over a 20 year period and the homes already built since 2010 or that have planning consent, count towards that total figure. So, we are half way through the plan and just a little behind the number of homes we need to build each year. The plan is also much more than building houses too! Cornwall’s Development Plan Document

Cornwall for Change are a campaign group that run anti-development campaigns and describe Cornwall Council as having a “narrow and short-sighted strategy.”  With local elections coming they have emailed sitting councillors and will contact all other candidates to ask them to sign up to their 4 pledges, a Charter for Cornwall.

I could have ignored their email as I’m sure many others did. I could have signed their 4 pledges regardless of whether I believed they would be achievable within the law and planning regulations. I know Councillors that have taken that approach. However, I feel that honesty and integrity is one of the most important things I can bring to democracy so I replied to their email. I explained that I could happily sign up to 3 of their pledges but the 1st of their pledges might be popular but it is not deliverable and it would be dishonest to sign and pretend I could deliver it. I asked to meet with them to discuss this.

After what can only be described as a ‘we know best’ judgemental tirade their reply concluded:

“Given our clear difference of opinion on this subject we are not sure what benefit there might be in a meeting – without an agreement that the Council’s approach to planning is fundamentally flawed then the damage will continue.”

It is difficult to see how agreeing with three quarters of what a campaign is about can amount to a “clear difference of opinion”.

So I would have been happy to sign up to pledges to:

  • I pledge to put local needs first, work to restore the supply of social rented housing and increase the proportion of good quality, genuinely affordable housing.
  • I pledge to seek to limit the growth of second homes and reduce the number of second homes in communities where levels are excessive.
  • I pledge to support the devolution of strategic planning to Cornwall and the replacement of a developer-led planning system by a truly democratic system that works for local residents.

I asked to meet to discuss one pledge that I felt would be difficult (well impossible) to achieve with the current Government. This one pledge seeks to reverse the housing target for Cornwall that was the lowest the Government would accept without coming in and setting their own target. Whilst there are many things I would love to ignore that this Conservative Government is doing I know that is like putting my head in the sand. On the 1st pledge of the Charter I concluded that whilst I could pretend I would work to achieve it, it would be nonsensical. If the Council turned down planning applications, without legitimate planning rules (and these are broadly set by the Government) there would be an increase in planning appeals which the Council would lose. This would mean more money draining out of Cornwall to fight those appeals and paying costs to applicants (developers) when the Council lost. I cannot be that dishonest just to say I’ll do what might seem popular. My name is not TRUMP!

Homes at Croft Mear Pendeen

Homes built by local community land trust all housing local families

If anyone doubts my commitment to giving priority to building homes for local people then pop down to Croft Mear, at the end of Moorland Close in Pendeen and see the homes the local Community Land Trust I chair got built. The Land Trust is a not-for-profit company, with no paid staff or Directors and we made no money on providing the homes.