Lowertown homes bid rejected
8:20am Thursday 27th September 2012 in News
A bid to “fill” the gap between Helston and Lowertown with eight homes has received unanimous objection from local councillors.
Watched by a packed public gallery, Helston Town Council’s planning department debated an application from Mark Heims, his sister Sarah Puckey (nee Heims) and Derek Towler, who want to build four single-storey affordable homes and four two-storey homes to be sold on the open market, together with vehicle access taken from the existing entrance to the field, on land adjacent to Granite Court.
Mrs Puckey and Mr Heims want to live in two of the open market homes to be nearer to their elderly father David Heims, who already lives nearby in Lowertown.
Mr Towler also currently lives in Lowertown but wants to move to one of the new homes. Their planning consultant Stephen Bott told the committee: “There is a need for open market and affordable homes in Helston.
“Helston, for many years, had an oversupply of housing; this is now not the case. We consider this could make a valuable contribution to the shortfall for open market and affordable dwelling.”
Attempting to address concerns that have already been raised by objectors, Mr Bott said that in relation to building on green-field land, Helston did not have large quantities of brown-field. “It’s inevitable that the majority of new housing sites will be green-field,” he said.
With regards to losing the gap between Lowertown and Helston, he said three sides of the site in question were already developed and it was not recognised as an official ‘open area’ in a plan by the now defunct Kerrier District Council – although it was later claimed this was only because the papers were not submitted in time for this to be formalised.
Mr Bott added: “We consider the significant gap between Lowertown and Helston will still remain if this development goes ahead.”
He said people had referred to a planning appeal decision made in 1991, when development on the site was turned down, but this was “in a different era” when there was “no overriding need” for extra housing.
Mr Bott said there were no proposals for on street lighting and the two-storey houses would be set into the ground “to avoid dominant impact on Lowertown.”
Many objectors remained unconvinced, however.
Speaking as part of 24 members of the public attending the meeting, Owen Baker from Lowertown claimed a number of Mr Bott’s “assertions” were “extremely questionable” – including the need for homes, as there were currently eight for sale in Lowertown already.
Mr Baker said: “Residents in the new houses will look in to the bedrooms of the existing houses and it would certainly dominate and change the character [of the village].”
He also believed street lights would be demanded “at some point.”
“The major factor worrying many residents is flooding. In heavy rainfall there is a lot of surface rain from fields at the top of the hill and a very considerable stream of water pours down the land,” he said.
Mr Baker added the site would come off a road only 11ft wide, with blind S-bends and an off-set railway bridge.
He alleged the application was being “rushed through” before the Helston Town Framework Study – which will look at the future of the town, including the need for houses and green areas – determined that the green-field ‘gap’ should be protected.
Another resident’s “primary concern” was a precedent being set.
“If this plan goes ahead it will go like dominoes,” he added.
Planning members agreed unanimously with Councillor Niall Devenish’s recommendation that the application be refused on the grounds it would lose the separation between Helston and Lowertown, there were access issues and it was an exemption site were development was not supported by the local community, with him adding: “The size, design and scale on a site of such typography would be both overbearing and not in keeping with the rural community in which it sites, and would also be likely to cause overlooking.”