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Porthleven council defends stance on Shrubberies Hill development
10:00am Thursday 17th October 2013 in Cornwall
Porthleven Town Council has responded to claims that it was “hell bent” on pushing through a controversial 60-home development on Shrubberies Hill.
Brian Pelly has written to the council on behalf of the Friends of Porthleven action group that opposed developer Mark Rowe’s scheme, which has since been given planning permission.
Mr Pelly claimed the residents of Porthleven felt a “sense of betrayal” and “deserved” an explanation over why the town council recommended approval of the plans, saying: “The town council has given the appearance of being hell bent on recommending approval of this application, against the will of the vast majority of residents who voiced their opinions.
“The result is a strong feeling by many residents of no confidence in the mayor and the town council.”
Town clerk Corrie Thompson has since replied to a series of questions submitted by Mr Pelly.
She explained that a petition containing more than 700 signatures of opposition could not be considered by the council because Friends chairman Paula Johns would not allow it to be submitted, after hearing the document would be subject to Freedom of Information requests. She would only allow it to be copied on the proviso it would be shown only to town councillors, as signatories did not want their name made public.
Ms Thompson therefore disputed claims that the council did not “behave as if it did not exist” and added: “The town council have never denied that the petition existed but could not consider it when reviewing the application as our request to obtain a copy was declined.”
She also claimed that the petition was subsequently submitted to Cornwall Council in the middle of August – but not the town council – so was therefore presented by the planning officer to the unitary authority planning committee.
Ms Thompson also said that the town councillors reviewed the objections of residents against the responses from statutory bodies such as South West Water and Cornwall County Highways – which raised no objections. As such the concerns of residents could not be used as objections in the town council response.
In relation to the landscape officer and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit’s opposition, she said: “The town council felt that the need for affordable housing was greater than the perceived harm.”
Members used figures provided by Cornwall Councillor Andy Wallis when considering the need for affordable housing. He reported that a previous affordable homes project received more than 400 local needs applications.
This development was the only site being proposed at the current time.
Mr Wallis had been investigating funding for a neighbourhood plan prior to the application being submitted and a committee had since been set up, but Ms Thompson stressed this would not stop development in certain areas.
Finally, in response to a claim the council did “not see fit” for a member to attend the Cornwall Council planning meeting, Ms Thompson said due to work commitments and the holiday season no one was available.
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