Posted: 04.02.21 at 15:16 by Richard Whitehouse - Local Democracy Reporter
The future of a £170 million regeneration scheme for a key site in Truro city centre is up in the air after councillors refused to grant planning permission.
An outline planning application for the Pydar Street regeneration scheme went before the council’s strategic planning committee.
But despite being recommended for approval by planning officers the committee decided to refuse permission over concerns that the development was too large and overbearing and concerns about a loss of parking spaces.
The scheme is being led by Cornwall Council itself through its development company Treveth and has been hailed as one of the biggest and most ambitious schemes the council has ever been involved with.
It was set to include up to 320 new homes, up to 400 student bed spaces, employment space, a hotel, shops, restaurants and bars.
The site would have also been home to The Hive – a new campus for Falmouth University which would have included facilities for its games, film and digital courses.
Cornwall Council and Treveth have been leading the scheme for some time and included extensive consultation with the public.
The development site includes the former Carrick District Council offices, Viaduct car park and business premises including Truro Bowl.
However Truro councillors said that while they supported the redevelopment of the site in principal they were concerned about the scale and density of the proposals.
Plans shown to the committee included five and six-storey buildings and councillors said they were concerned that it was out of keeping with the city centre.
Truro city councillor Stuart Roden said that the proposals would be against national planning policy, the Cornwall local plan and the local Truro neighbourhood development plan.
He said that it should be refused permission but said that if it was to go ahead there should be a condition to limit the height of the buildings to four storeys.
Glenn Caplin-Grey, director of economic growth at Cornwall Council, said that the development would bring investment into Truro and help support the future economic growth of the city.
Truro councillor and city mayor Bert Biscoe said that he had been supportive of Cornwall Council bringing the Pydar Street site under a single ownership having seen previous plans fail.
He said that he supported the proposal for mixed development on the site but said that he was unhappy with the current plans.
Cllr Biscoe said that he was “disappointed” and said that he hoped that the developers would listen to the concerns of councillors.
He urged them to “do something that we can all be truly proud and that we can all feel a part of”.
Truro councillor Rob Nolan said that there had been good consultation about the proposals but he said that they had since changed.
He said that while councillors should welcome investment they should not accept the plans as presented.
Cllr Nolan said: “What is seen is not acceptable. They are not what was proposed, they are overwhelming, it is over development.”
Fellow Truro councillors Loic Rich and David Harris both raised concerns about the transport proposals and the loss of parking spaces.
Under the plans the loss of the Viaduct car park would see 695 parking spaces lost in the city which is 12% of those provided in council car parks. The development plans included provision of 180 spaces – around 100 would be for the new homes.
Cllr Rich said that there should have been more consideration of rail travel and the opportunity to have a rail link as part of the development.
Dulcie Tudor said that she was also concerned about the council-backed development proposals and said: “I can’t help but think that if this plan had been submitted by a private developer it wouldn’t have been recommended for approval.”
Cornelius Olivier expressed “incredulity” that so many councillors were raising concerns about parking issues which he said went against the council’s declaration of a climate emergency.
He said: “To oppose this on car parking just makes a laughing stock of this council’s declaration of a climate emergency.”
The Penzance councillor said that other towns in Cornwall would “take your arm off” to have the opportunity of a development like the one proposed and the chance to have students in their town.
However Sue Nicholas said that she had “grave concerns” about the height and scale of the proposed development.
She highlighted that officers had said that there would be overshadowing due to the height of the proposed buildings.
John Dyer proposed that the application should be refused on the grounds of scale and mass of the development was too large and out of character and would have a negative impact on the city of Truro. He also proposed refusal due to the loss of car parking in the city.
His proposal was seconded by Graham Coad and when put to the vote the committee refused planning permission with nine votes in favour and six against.