Falmouth: Residents and town council say "no" to controversial development on North Parade

  Posted: 13.09.21 at 15:00 by Joseph Macey

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A proposal to replace a single dwelling on North Parade in Falmouth with a row of five luxury riverside properties is being challenged by residents.

A previous version of the proposal was withdrawn by developers after hitting local headlines last December when Falmouth Town Council recommended refusal.

Residents have had enough of "greedy developers" trying to cram in as many units as possible onto small plots of land to the detriment of the locals.

Residents say the ‘overdevelopment, excessive height and poor design’ criticised by Falmouth Town Council have not been addressed by the minimal changes in the current proposal and that neither have concerns of the residents who formally objected to the previous application.

Objectors are concerned that whilst the prominent site of the proposal at the start of the North Parade gateway to Falmouth makes it of public interest, the applicants have not displayed a site notice, meaning the wider Falmouth and Penryn communities have not yet been invited to make their views known.

The road attracts walkers, runners and cyclists who can currently enjoy the open outlook to Penryn River, the marina and landscape opposite. The locals are anxious that the development would block the view, “it would be heart-breaking” said a resident, “we would all lose our beautiful view.”

Photo of traffic congestion on North Parade.

A neighbour who cares for the elderly also commented:

“For the elderly people who live over the road and are mainly house bound, when looking at the view out of their window is one of their few pleasures, it would be cruel to take this away from them.”

Falmouth’s Neighbourhood Development Plan, supported by a recent referendum, commits to "address Falmouth's affordable and social housing needs," however residents highlight that the type of waterside properties proposed at 28 North Parade is an investment opportunity for the owner rather than homes for local residents - with the proliferation of second homes and holiday lets widely blamed for local families having to leave the town to find homes they can afford to rent or buy.

The current proposal does not reflect advice given by the Case Officer at the pre-application stage to reduce the number of units to avoid overdeveloping this narrow strip of land, the row of five houses remaining two storeys high, a storey taller than the current property.

Locals living around the area said they love North Parade for its character of open gardens and 1930s bungalows and in contrast, critics have described this proposal as overbearing and are concerned at the loss to the community of the character and open aspect of this Falmouth beauty spot, without any advantage to the town in terms of fulfilling identified housing needs.

A local said:

“We need to stand together in force to fight this proposal which would destroy the character of North Parade.”

Among public objections to the proposal on Cornwall Council’s Planning Register are concerns about highway safety, noting that North Parade is a busy and dangerous road with vehicles meeting head-on at speed along the narrow road close to the blind bend, 6 parking spaces for 16 bedrooms proposed is felt inadequate to prevent further pressure on limited on-road parking, resulting in congestion and manoeuvring into the road further hampering the safety of drivers and cyclists.

The elderly and disabled residents voice concerns that they and their carers and nurses are having to park further and further from their homes which restricts the time available for the provision of care and that if the parking problem becomes worse, it will not be practical for them to live here.

An elderly neighbour said:

“I walk with mobility aids and cannot walk very far and we can rarely find a parking space outside our own home. The proposed development does not have enough parking spaces and therefore people who reside in the development would park on the road in front of our bungalow, making the parking problem even worse. If this continues, I am sad to say I will have to think about leaving North Parade as I am unable able to walk long distances from the car to my home.”

Remembering a time when she was seriously ill, she said:

“Even the ambulance had to park further down the road as there was nowhere to park. When paramedics are attending emergencies, every minute counts to save lives. I am lucky as my life was previously saved by the paramedics who attended to me but others may not be so lucky if time is wasted finding somewhere to park.”

The Falmouth Town Council planning meeting took place on Monday 6th September when a debate amongst councillors after hearing two objectors and a representative from CSA Architects spoke.

One of the objectors stated that:

"The garden is a beautiful backdrop to the Marina with rare species of trees and shrubs planted by a botanical gardener and is the habitat for a variety of wildlife. The garden will be destroyed which will lead to loss of biodiversity."

She continued:

"When protecting the environment is at the top of our world agenda, we should not destroy it in Falmouth."

Reflecting the infuriation of the residents that information presented in the documents supporting the application is inaccurate and is written to mislead those making a decision into thinking that objections and requirements have been met, one of the objectors said:

“The transport note misleads us into believing that the visibility distance has been increased to the required 49m although with an extra space in the South West corner, it has not,” and she expressed her concern that, “an opinion has been formed by Highway Management - West looking at inaccurate information,” putting the locals at risk of being in a collision due to the visibility distance falling short of 49m as stipulated.

It was a relief to residents when a decision was made by the councillors who recommended refusal due to overdevelopment, excessive height, loss of view from the highway and inadequate parking provision despite changes to the original plans which have not been sufficient to address these issues.

As there is still no public notice which residents believe is deliberate to avoid public scrutiny, the Case Officer has agreed to extend the deadline for the neighbourhood consultation period so that the locals of Falmouth and Penryn have 21 days to comment from when the notice is displayed.

“If this development were to go ahead, not only would there be no benefits to the community, it would cause so many problems for the residents and drive more of the locals out of Falmouth,” said one of the residents.

“Falmouth is a vibrant town all year round because of the locals and students who live here and we should not allow developments like this to drive us away.”

The public can view and comment on the proposal and read what others have to say on the Cornwall Council Online Planning Register.

Although there are currently 26 public comments, it is important for the locals to continue to comment to ensure that their opinions are considered when a decision is made.

If you wish to view or comment please visit the website: www.cornall.gov.uk click on ‘Planning and building control’ then ‘view or comment on a planning application’, then click on ‘search for a planning application’ and search for PA21/07358.

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