Fighting for Port's future generations
7:00am Thursday 21st March 2013 in News
Porthleven will not have a future generation unless young families today are given somewhere affordable to live. This is the view of father-of-two Robert Hichens, who is from one of the families in the port that have come out fighting in favour of homes being built off Shrubberies Hill.
Last week the Packet reported that Friends of Porthleven Group had gathered 700 signatures against Mark Rowe’s proposal to build around 60 homes on one of his fields.
Group chairman Paula Johns argued that this land was “priceless” and “should be preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.”
However, Mr Hichens told the Packet: “If we don’t get this housing development there won’t be a future generation in Porthleven. It will be a tourist town – kids living locally will have to move out.
“This is the last chance saloon. Is that field more favourable than having more houses for future generations of Porthleven?”
He argued that had the existing houses not been built on fields in his great-great grandfather’s day there would not be homes for the people now living in the port.
The group protesting has stated it was “not against the building of affordable and social homes”, but there were “other, better, sites in Porthleven.”
However, Mr Hichens said: “The rest of the fields in Porthleven are also areas of outstanding natural beauty. If they’re prepared to move the build from there, where will we put it that won’t affect another area of outstanding natural beauty?”
Mr Hichens, who grew up in Porthleven and has lived there for 33 years, now has his own family – partner Rachel and their two children Lois, five and three-year-old Lacey.
“For someone like myself who has lived in the village all my life, who can’t afford to buy a house, this is quite possibly the last opportunity to get on that housing ladder. It will make a huge difference to the village,” he said.
Mr Hichens, who currently rents in the port, said he would be hoping for one of the new rental houses on the development, as the rent would be lower and he and his partner could try to save for a deposit to buy an affordable home.
However, he would only support the development if there was a strong criteria weighing them in favour of really local people.
Mr Hichens claimed the people collecting together the petition were “scaremongering” and wanted to know why there had not been a public meeting called by the group, so all views could be aired.
Wayne and Becki Ward agreed, saying: “We can fully appreciate and understand that everyone has their own opinion on this matter but we should be able to have our say as well. Everyone seems to have all these facts and figures against the build, but the bottom line is Porthleven needs houses for local people and families like ourselves – people standing on our own two feet and paying very high private rent. All we want is security for our future.”
Other people have also come forward in support of the development, on the Porthleven Facebook group.
Rachael Higgs wrote: “I think the houses should go ahead – we are losing our children from the locality because there is no affordable housing for them. Holiday homes have their place to help the economy, but our children and their generations will keep the locally Cornish traditions alive – which is what the holidaymakers come to Cornwall for in the first place!”
Lynda Sherfield-Wong agreed: “I think it's a great idea. It [Porthleven] needs people to live in the village every day, not two weeks a year.”
There has also been a note of caution, however, with Pam Kitchen warning against the proposed access road.
“Despite Cornwall Highways stating the back road is ‘fine’ I dread to think of what it'll turn into during construction with the amount of lorries etc trundling through, and also the continuous traffic after – it's bad enough now,” she said, before adding: “Don't get me wrong, I'm all for ‘local housing’ for ‘local people.’ “Every angle must be covered on this and every objection looked into and answered constructively before planning is allowed and construction begins; once they are built there will be no turning back.”
Photo by CH. Caption: The Hichens and Ward families are in favour of the development.