More than 70 people gathered in Porthleven Shipyard this afternoon in one last attempt to put their views across about its proposed redevelopment.

Last month the planning committee at Cornwall Council deferred its decision over Trevor Osborne’s proposed Innovation Building, housing studios and units for around 70 people, an internet cafe, bus shelter, public toilets and showers, after complaining it was given different statements over the level of support.

The plans also include the creation of a one-way route through the shipyard, with an entrance via the existing access point and a new exit onto Methleigh Bottoms.

This afternoon 11 of the 15 members of the west area planning committee saw the site in person and heard the public’s feelings in a 40-minute meeting. Applicant Mr Osborne was unable attend in person, as he was recovering at home after suffering a heart attack just over a week ago. He was represented by Jo Sharp, business manager for his Porthleven Harbour and Dock Company, as well as the project’s architect Duncan Isherwood.

Ms Sharp began by saying Mr Osborne sent his apologies and was “disappointed” not to be there. She went on to address concerns raised at the last planning meeting, saying: “Boat storage, trailer storage and parking can all be achieved in the shipyard.

“Access to the slipway remains same and in fact is larger than today.”

She added that only 14 boats used the shipyard for dry storage over the winter and said that there were just three licenced fishermen in Porthleven – although this was later clarified by Porthleven Fishermen and Boat Owners’ Association secretary Lynn Lees, who said there were in fact 11 licences currently active, three full time.

Ms Sharp confirmed that in the event of a similar storm to 2014, which she described as “a very rare occurrence,” the harbour and shipyard could be used for storage if required.

She said that the boat building era ended 30 years ago in Porthleven but other areas had developed, such as food and art, adding: “Without this diversification and significant private financial investment Porthleven would not be the desirable place it is today. Further investment and commitment is crucial for keeping the village alive.”

She also claimed that the boat owners’ association, Porthleven fishermen and Porthleven Gig Club had “all confirmed their activities would not be affected by the proposal.”

This was later denied by Mrs Lees though, who said: “We have not said that.”

Mrs Lees went on to say: “We’re very unhappy about the lack of space for boat storage. Another huge problem is access to the slipway.”

She described a situation where two boat owners with trailers arrived at the same time, but with the proposed building in place only one could enter the shipyard to unload – something that could take up to 30 minutes - and the other would be forced to wait on the road, resulting in “traffic piling up behind” and “everything coming to a standstill.”

Mrs Lees said: “We have discussed this [application] as an association in a detached manner; emotion has been taken out of it. We cannot use [the harbour] for its purpose. The Fishermen and Boat Owners’ Association objects.”

Michael Toy represented Porthleven Town Council in its objection, while Cornwall councillor for the area Andrew Wallis said: “This absolutely changes Porthleven forever. Once this building goes here, we cannot take it away.”

Mr Wallis raised concerns over the suitability of the “narrow” road at Methleigh Bottoms for manoeuvring large vehicles that visit the shipyard and also suggested that the units would be filled with existing artists and business people in the port, who would be “relocated” and their current buildings “redeveloped into something else.”

When asked by one planning committee member what would happen to the units if there was not the expected uptake, Ms Sharp replied: “I can’t answer that,” acknowledging there was no Plan B.

The site visit heard from one young artist who said she spoke as “one of the creative people you say you’re trying to keep in Porthleven” and questioned how 70 such people, who were often earning a minimum wage “or less,” could be expected to afford to rent the units, or take the risk on just the prospect of selling some work.

“The reason they go away [from Cornwall] is they have to go to big businesses to work – they can’t afford to go out on their own,” she added.

However, one man who owned a boat building and marine repairs company, said he had been in talks with Mr Osborne about relocating to the shipyard from Cury and he had no concerns about the proposed building affecting his business.

A decision will now be taken at a meeting of the planning committee on Monday, October 23, at 10am in Penzance’s St John’s Hall.