FALMOUTH University has come in for some criticism for not attending a planning meeting which deferred a decision on whether to build a student village at Penvose.
Councillors on Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee voted to defer the decision on the Penvose Student Village despite a recommendation for refusal from county planning officers.
Both Budock and Mabe parish councils, in whose remit it falls, object to the plan on many grounds including loss of prime agricultural land, increased traffic and increased population and threats to local businesses. Falmouth and Penryn town councils were not allowed to speak but support the application.
The deferment is to allow more input from Falmouth and Penryn town councils and to seek the views of the university which was criticised by Cornwall councillors for not attending.
"Where is Falmouth University?" said committee chairman Rob Nolan.
Councillor Julian Rand echoed his sentiments saying it was a 'nonsense' that the university was not represented.
Councillor Malcolm Brown said the university was showing a lack of leadership by not attending.
"This is the first time there are no people in the public gallery protesting," he said. "There is public support for the application which needs to be pursued further.

But Rob Hillier communications director from Falmouth University said no one from Falmouth university has been present at any hearing regarding proposals brought forward by private sector developers. "So it is baffling as to why we would suddenly be expected to attend this one, which has zero connection to Falmouth University.

"Our attendance was never requested by any party. Our position regarding this development has been made quite clear in written submissions to Cornwall Council."

It was also claimed at the meeting that a  Freedom of Information request had found that student numbers had reached 8,186. This was despite a the recently lifted cap being set at 7,500.

"To hear that student numbers have already been exceeded is not good news," said councillor John Bastin from Budock parish council.
Officers said they had only just learned of the infringement today and would consider what action to take. 

But again Rob Hillier angrily denied this was the case saying that the figures were simply wrong.

"The student numbers mentioned at the meeting are made up," he said. "We do not know where this figure of 8,186 came from. Our student numbers are exactly as presented to the strategic planning committee."

There were also concerns about personal safety along the proposed footway and cycleway providing access to the village which would be adjacent to a 60 mph road.
Councillor Matthew McCarthy from Falmouth Town Council said: "We need this in Falmouth. It isn't a case of being able to be to choosy. Damage is being done to the community as can be seen by the allowing of three appeals [for student accommodation] in Falmouth.
This is a good application, good for the community which will work for Falmouth and Penryn.
"It has received broad support from the town council, but it seems a bit silly that Falmouth town council isn't allowed to speak as it will effect us most."
Campaigner and councillor Dave Saunby said Falmouth had been suffering since the lifting of the student cap.
"Falmouth is cracking at the seams." He said there was a lot of support for the application in the town which would take enormous pressure off the town."
The team behind Penvose Student Village has welcomed the deferment decision made the planning committee.
Mark Dawes, from CAD Architects, who is working with the development company behind Penvose Student Village, and presented to the planning committee, said: “We welcome the opportunity to have further discussions with Falmouth and Penryn town councils, as well as Cornwall Council, to refine our scheme.
“As noted during the committee meeting we were praised for the work we have done to engage and listen to the local community and we’re more than happy to continue this process. We are very grateful for the recognition.
“The university has brought a great deal of benefit to the community, however, our consultation work has highlighted the challenges that are being faced by local families, particularly with housing and parking.
“Our extensive engagement work means that we have developed a scheme that we believe is the only viable option to support the growth of the University, as well as protecting the surrounding communities for families and businesses.
“We’d also like to thank everyone who supported our scheme and recognised the benefits that we are able to offer.”
The development would sit between Treluswell and Treliever roundabouts, and in addition to the student rooms, it would include a 474 space park and ride facility, 323 parking spaces for students, a university study hub and social hub.
The plans also include a budget hotel up to 62 rooms, a pub/restaurant, retail parade including a small convenience store, doctors' surgery and day nursery, B1 office space and start up units and sports and leisure facilities including changing rooms, squash and tennis courts and multipurpose all weather pitch.