A six-storey tower of shipping containers housing students could be built at Kernick Road if plans discussed at Penryn Town Council on Monday are given the green light.

In an informal discussion following the town's planning committee meeting Matt Williams, of furniture retailer Home Shed, outlined his plans for the land behind his family's business, which could see new residences built in a two-phase plan.

He said the first phase of plans, which are expected to go to pre-application stage shortly, would involve installing prefabricated units directly behind the units with room for 300 students, with an option for another 300 to 400 beds to go up on top of those and over the top of the business as well. The intention being to keep the Williams' businesses Home Shed, Carpet Shed, and Onyx all open.

The architect brought in by Mr Williams said the question was: "Is it right to house students on this site? It's about more than just bum's in beds."

He said there was the potential to use the existing dining space at the businesses to create a better offering for students.

Asked about current use at the site, he said it would be a vacant lot.

Councillor Mark Snowdon asked how far the development would be from the Walled Garden, as a six-storey tower could affect the setting of the historic area of Penryn and its Grade II listed building.

He was told that there was some distance between the two sites but it would be taken into account, and that the developers could "dig it out, and that way we could hide one and a half." He was also told that the first phase of development was a "line in the sand" and that the second phase would be dependent on the first going well.

Councillor David Garwood asked "how would the plans fit" with the council's recent backing of continued industrial use at nearby Jennings Road and refusal of a change of use to allow a Home Bargains retail warehouse to be built on the industrial estate. He added that it could run counter to the developing local plan.

But councillor Mary May said the Jennings Road application had been about the loss of employment to the area, whereas this could potentially benefit the town by providing custom built student accommodation.

The council had earlier discussed plans for an eight bed student house in a residential area, which was highlighted as being a bad choice of site.

The building would be created completely from prefabricated two-bed units in oversized shipping containers, built in China and shipped to the UK for easily assembly, with other amenities units included in the mix. The outer walls would then be rendered. The developers have said that as well as the Kernick Road site they would be interested in other sites which landowners would like to offer for similar schemes, which may not be cost-effective as stand-alone sites but could become viable if developed using the same system.

The units are usually shipped into Southampton, but the architect told councillors it would "make sense" to use Falmouth docks instead.

The meeting followed a discussion by the town council on plans to raise the cap on student numbers by 2,500.