Councillors have agreed that a greenfield site which had been seen as a buffer between two settlements is suitable for housing.

A permission in principle application had been submitted to Cornwall Council for up to five bungalows to be built on land off Merritts Hill, Illogan.

Permission in principle applications are limited to only considering whether a location is suitable for development and the amount of development allowed. All technical aspects of the proposals would be provided and considered at a later date.

A number of councillors raised concerns, but were warned by officers that if denied for the wrong reasons it could go to appeal – and reminded of the "massive costs" paid out by the council after a previous appeal “failed spectacularly."

Cornwall Council’s west sub-area planning committee considered the application when it met on Tuesday and agreed to grant permission in principle.

The decision came despite concerns about the impact any development could have on the ecology of the area and the narrow access to the site.

Planning officers had recommended that councillors grant permission saying that it was seen as being “rounding off” because there is development on three sides of the site with the other side bordered by a hedgerow.

They also said that the site was considered large enough for a development of five homes.


However the committee heard that a neighbourhood development plan was in the process of being completed for Illogan.

Councillors were told that the site was not considered to be suitable for development in it, and that exception sites should only be developed if they provide 100% affordable housing.

Carn Brea Parish Council said it had objected to the application as it considered it would be over-development and was concerned about the impact it could have on the environment.

Parish councillors were also concerned about access to the site along “a very narrow lane” and said that an ecology report which had been commissioned for the application did not diminish their concerns about the impact the development could have on the environment.

Local Cornwall councillor David Crabtree said that the site was considered to be a green space between West Tolgus and Illogan and said that as it was outside the settlement boundary it should be considered to be open countryside. He urged the committee to refuse permission.

Committee member Loveday Jenkin said she was not comfortable with granting permission in principle anything which could harm the ecology of the area.

She said: “If we are serious about this climate emergency we should be doing everything to preserve these sites.”

Brian Clemens, independent councillor for St Just, criticised the introduction of permission in principle applications saying that they did not provide enough detail for a decision to be made.

He said: “I think the Government has made a mistake. This legislation has made our jobs a lot harder.”

Some councillors raised concerns about the narrow access to the site and questioned whether emergency vehicles would face problems. However the council’s highways officers said that they had no objections and legal officers warned that if the application was refused on highways grounds then it would be likely to be lost at appeal and the council could face costs.

Legal officer Ben Curnow said that at a previous appeal the council “failed spectacularly and there were massive costs”.

Councillor John Thomas said that he could see no reason to refuse the application and proposed that it should be granted. When put to the vote that was agreed with seven in favour and three against.