An appeal against the refusal of plans to build luxury apartments on land at Pendennis headland in Falmouth has been dismissed by an inspector who has ruled the development would have a negative impact on the neighbouring docks and sewage treatment plant.

David Prentis has also said the scheme for Middlepoint would harm the setting of both Pendennis and St Mawes Castles and that the environmental risk posed by oil seeping from the site had been

"overstated" by both Cornwall Council and the appellant, Middlepoint Developments Ltd.

The ruling has been met with "delight" by the Spiral Collective Housing Co-operative at The Cottage, which adjoins the site.

Speaking on their behalf, Jef Smith said: "Hopefully this legal ruling will set a precedent warning to all developers eyeing up sites on Pendennis Headland - this is a beautiful and special place, for both locals and our visitors, that needs to be not only preserved but further enhanced, for future generations.

"This Planning Inspectorate decision shows that brownfield sites on the headland are not simply inevitably there for luxury development - rather, this decision sets a precedent that these contaminated sites must be remediated by the owners, and that other uses, including returning some of these disused sites back to natural headland, should be considered."

If permission had been granted it would have resulted in action being taken to prevent further contamination caused by leakage from the disused oil tanks, but this was not enough to warrant approval being given.

Mr Prentis claimed the level of contamination had been "overstated. "It is possible that the rate of seepage will increase in the future but, if it does, it seems unlikely that this would be in a sudden or catastrophic way," he said. "If seepage were to increase I see no reason why the situation could not be brought back under control with further interventions on a localised scale."

The inspector also said the proposal would result in an "unacceptable risk of economic harm" due to the potential for restrictions on commercial activities at Falmouth docks and due also to the likelihood of additional constraints affecting the future expansion of Falmouth sewage treatment works (FSTW)

"Falmouth docks are an important contributor to the economy of Cornwall," said Mr Prentis. "FSTW is a key public utility. Moreover, if the costs of expanding the facility were to be increased by the need to meet higher environmental standards, that is an economic cost which would be borne by the many customers of SWW. My overall assessment is that these potential economic harms would

outweigh the economic benefits of the scheme."

The inspector also said the development would result in harm to the significance of Pendennis Castle, Little Dennis, the Barrack Block and St Mawes Castle and would fail to preserve the setting of the conservation area due to the loss of trees.