Cornwall Council has agreed that the first part of the draft Local Plan for Cornwall, that will see a target of 47,500 new homes, be submitted to the Secretary of State for examination.

The Cornwall Local Plan – strategic policies will be the basis for future planning decisions and sets out a vision for growth.

It identifies the "quantity and distribution of growth for new housing, community facilities, shops and employment".

Once this plan has been examined by the Secretary of State, further elements, including strategic allocations for the main towns, will follow and be subject to public consultation in the spring of 2015.

Cornwall Council cabinet member for planning Edwina Hannaford said: “Our Local Plan has been produced after extensive consultation and thorough discussion and I’m confident it will be found ‘sound’ when it is examined by the Secretary of State.

"Although the focus for many is on the 47,500 headline figure for housing, we need to remember that there is already planning consent for around 29,000 homes, including around 10,000 that have already been built since 2010. This leaves a balance of 18,500 to be delivered over the next 15 years. Without a plan the Council and Cornwall are vulnerable to planning by appeal.

Mrs Hannaford added: “Despite the Government saying we can set our own targets, they expect the number to be based on evidence and the need to respond to the national agenda to boost housing supply. Of course, infrastructure is essential but homes are infrastructure too and are needed to support our communities, the economy and our future. The funding of infrastructure and the conditions for job creation are linked to housing delivery. We have consistently delivered our housing targets, even through recession, with 33 per cent of all homes built as affordable homes.

"However there are also other important factors we have taken into account. Our landscape is very important to us, economically, environmentally and socially. The Strategic Policies in the Local Plan will help protect and conserve our valued protected landscapes."

"We also need to keep in perspective the level of land use in Cornwall. Less than one per cent of Cornwall is used for housing and this will only increase by less than 0.5 per cent if the target is reached.

"Over a third of land in Cornwall is subject to very stringent environmental policy constraints and 80 per cent of Cornwall is farm land. Cornwall will remain a rural area of the UK.”

The Local Plan will now be submitted to the Secretary of State in January with an examination anticipated in the Spring of 2015.