A belief that tourism in Falmouth has reached a peak and student housing is levelling out has led to the town’s councillors calling for changes to be made to plans for the future.
Members were discussing Cornwall Council’s Local Plan (Core Strategy), which sets out plans for the whole of the county for the next 20 years.
This focuses on everything from housing to roads, as well as facilities such as schools, doctor’s surgeries and parks.
A major topic of discussion was the number of houses.
Councillor David Sterratt, who was chairing the meeting of the strategic planning and regeneration committee, said that as of Monday morning 1,089 people were on the housing register with a connection to Falmouth.
The Local Plan currently states that 4,500 homes should be built in the Falmouth and Penryn over the next two decades, with 500 in the rural parishes.
Of these homes 35 per cent of which should be affordable – a total of 1,575 to cover the next 20 years.
Dr Sterratt described it as a “completely insufficient number” of affordable homes, but believed the number of new houses overall should be reduced.
He said there wasn’t the evidence to say the docks would expand and the “general consensus” was that Cornwall’s tourist industry had reached its peak.
Dr Sterratt claimed: “I think most people in the industry would say Cornwall has had its run. It’s now going to start dropping down as all tourist places do. With the collapse of the euro there are a lot of places abroad that will be very cheap.”
However, Councillor Allyson Biggins said people couldn’t afford to go abroad and Falmouth had seen an increase in footfall during the cruise ship season.
Councillor Diana Merrett claimed that student numbers in the town were falling, adding: “People are building houses for students and can’t get anyone to stay in them because there aren’t enough students now.”
Yet Councillor Keven Ayres said if the council said no to new houses being built then 1,000 people would be sent away from Falmouth.
Mrs Biggins also hand concerns that “concreting everything” left no natural soak-aways and natural green space needed to be left to prevent even bigger problems with flooding in the future, although she agreed there was a need for housing.
Dr Sterratt said 2,900 new homes would be “more acceptable.”
It was agreed the council would ask for a higher percentage of affordable housing, requesting Falmouth be treated in the same way as St Ives and that 50 per cent of the homes built be affordable. There should also be lower housing numbers overall.
The council wanted greater control over second homes, to protect area of outstanding natural beauty and use brownfield sites for building on first.
Members also included in their response the concerns over growth of tourism, recognition that student housing had “levelled out,” and that dredging was crucial.