The owner of a unique pub that's also a bookshop said that plans to build new flats in the centre of Falmouth would “destroy this small oasis” if the buildings were given the go-ahead and have a severe impact on her business.

As already reported by the Packet yesterday, Cornwall Council's planning committee rejected an application FP Kitchener Ltd to build flats on land in Bells Court, Falmouth over concerns about the size of the buildings and their impact on historic structures.

The committee heard from Alice Sommerlad, the co-owner of Beerwolf Books, which is located in the court and operates as a bar and bookshop as well as hosting live music.

Falmouth Packet: Building B located in Bells Court right in front of Beerwolf Books and will contain four one-bedroom flats.

She was concerned about the size and scale of the proposed building as well as the impact on her business. She explained that they had previously worked hard to resolve complaints about noise and feared that if new flats were introduced close to the venue they would face new complaints.

Ms Sommerlad said that the new proposed building would be “totally out of keeping with the style of the courtyard buildings” in terms of size, scale and materials which would be used. She was also concerned that the new buildings would block the courtyard and “destroy this small oasis”.


Decision on application to build 'overbearing' buildings in historic courtyard

Under the plans the applicants wanted to build two buildings which would each contain four flats. However the plans had attracted more than 140 objections.

The plans went before the council’s central sub-area planning committee yesterday and had been recommended for approval by planning officers. However the committee disagreed and unanimously voted to refuse planning permission.

Falmouth Packet: Building A is located on Smithwick Hill/Bells Hill/ and will contain three one-bedroom flats and one two-bedroom flat. Image Cad Architects

Among the concerns raised by councillors was the size of the flats; that they might be sold for use as Airbnb or holiday lets; and the size and scale of the building along with the impact it might have on heritage assets in the local area. They were also concerned about the impact on businesses which operate in the courtyard site.

Falmouth Town Council had also objected to the plans and raised concerns about the new buildings overlooking other properties and being overbearing. They also highlighted that the proposed flats were smaller than the minimum space standards.

Committee members also raised concerns about the size of the new apartments but planning officers said that whilst there were policies in place to set minimum size standards for affordable properties they did not yet apply for open market properties. They explained that such a policy may be included in the next Cornwall Local Plan.

Falmouth Packet: The entrance to Bell\'s Court

The application had been recommended for approval as planning officers felt that it would meet housing need in the town. However, local Cornwall councillor Laurie Magowan highlighted that there would be no affordable properties included in the development and said he feared that they would be sold for use as Airbnb properties.

Committee member John Fitter was concerned about the impact on businesses already operating in the area, including Beerwolf Books. He said: “I suspect there would be complaints from the occupants of these buildings about the trading activities of the pub and the others in the courtyard. This will put out unreasonable restrictions on those people who at the moment trade their business there.”

Michael Bunney said that he thought it should be an affordable housing scheme and said that if that had been the case then it might have been considered suitable. He said: “My concerns are about the design, over massing and impact on the historic environment which would have been outweighed by affordable housing. But that isn’t the case here. I am struggling to see the public benefit of this scheme.”

Falmouth Packet: The proposed development in Beerwolf Books front garden with the other buiding looming over them. Image CAD Architects

Cllr Bunney proposed that the application be refused due to its inappropriate scale and design and impact on the historic environment and heritage assets. The committee voted unanimously in favour of the proposal.