Falmouth Wharves plans gone to appeal

Falmouth Packet: Falmouth Wharves plans protesters Falmouth Wharves plans protesters

EIGHT months after they were thrown out by Cornwall Council, plans to redevelop Falmouth Wharves are back on the agenda as the company behind them has appealed against that decision.

It was back in April when Fairhaven Shipping Company's proposals for 44 flats, a 14-bedroom hotel, 20 light industrial/workshop units, gallery space and a restaurant/cafe, were rejected by the council's strategic planning committee.

Councillors had gone against planning officers' recommendation by refusing the application at a vote of 12 to two. The reasons given for that refusal were that the proposed development, due to the proposed mix of uses and their relationship with each other, would lead to conflict which together with the restrictions on vehicular access, result in established marine businesses being lost and the site being less attractive and less able to support a range of marine uses.

It was felt it would therefore “fail to safeguard and maintain this rare marine related, deep water access site, of strategic importance” and be contrary to policy.

At the time, the Friends of Falmouth Wharves, a group set up to fight the plans, were obviously delighted with result and claimed that “justice had prevailed.” The application had prompted over 100 comments, most of them in opposition, along with petitions against the plans.

However, the Fairhaven Shipping Company has now lodged an appeal against the council's decision and has outlined a number of grounds for that appeal.

Among those, it is claimed: “The improvements made to the standard of commercial accommodation as a result of the development will ensure the continued viability and attractiveness of the marine wharf site.

“The benefit of improved quality outweighs the reduction in quantity of floorspace for marine uses and evidence from a local commercial agent which assesses demand for such space will be presented to support this assertion.”

It is also said that no statutory consultees objected to the proposal and that a number of “erroneous” statements had been made at the committee meeting and that the appellant will demonstrate that the council's decision was “unreasonable.”

Although disappointed that the appeal has been lodged, the Friends of Falmouth Wharves are convinced it will fail again. A similar application had been dismissed at appeal in 2008.

Belle Benfield, speaking on behalf of the friends, said: “This is the fourth time they have tried, we do not think they will win because nothing has changed, it is still a key industrial site. We feel strongly about protecting local marine industry and don't think it's compatible with residential accommodation.”

The appeal is to be dealt with by way of a site visit by the inspector followed by a hearing. Any comments have to be made to the planning inspectorate before January 17.

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