An appeal against a refusal of an application to redevelop the old Marks and Spencer building in Falmouth has been allowed by a government inspector.

The inspector found that Cornwall Council had been unreasonable in refusing the application for the building in Market Street and awarded partial costs to the developer Andrew Strathdee and Acorn Blue. 

The granting of the appeal more than a year after it was lodged means that permission is now granted for 14 residential units and conversion of the ground floor to three individual retail units.

A new vehicle opening will be introduced onto Market Street in the approximate location of a previous cart entrance leading to a two-way ramp and car park at lower ground level providing 18 parking spaces.

Vehicles leaving the car park would have to turn left along Market Street to either Swanpool Street or Avenue Road.

This would result in an estimated 35 additional vehicle movements along Market Street in a 12-hour period.

He said he noted the concerns that the proposed development would compromise the Falmouth Town Council Strategy, and in particular the prioritisation of pedestrian movements along Market Street.

But he said he had no evidence before him as to why the proposed development would not positively sustain and enhance the viability of the town centre.

He said he saw no reason why the proposal would not comply, or impact in any other other respects on the requirements of the current Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).

He found there would be no impact on the community aspirations for the area.

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A newly intrduced section 106 agreement means there will be financial contributions to improvements to open space at Kimberley Park, The Moor and/or Greenbank Gardens and a contribution towards the provision of additional school places at designated primary and secondary schools in the area.

He did raise concerns about the effect the construction site would have on the sea environment in a Special Area of Conservation and said a detailed Construction Environment Management Plan would be needed during the construction phase.

He said while the frontage would remain pretty much the same, the installation of a solid roller door at the top of a ramped entrance would appear at odds with the wider street scene.

He said while it was claimed that the site entrance was previously the entrance to an ope, he found it was actually a private access rather than an ope due to its width.

He said a more appropriate design solution for the roller door should be made through a planning condition.

“The existing site due to its run-down appearance and lack of apparent maintenance, is harmful to the appearance of the heritage assets,” said the inspector in his decision.

“The council contends that the appearance and maintenance of the building are entirely within the appellant’s gift.

“Notwithstanding the existing condition of the building, the overall design of the proposed development, subject to a detailed design solution for the proposed roller door, would be appropriate in the context of the existing building and would not harm the wider conservation area.”

He said an element of affordable housing was not required because credit was given for the building being reused.


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He noted the public support for an alternative scheme as highlighted in a Packet poll in but said he could only adjudicate on the application before him.

He dismissed claims by the council that the proposal would cause environmental harm and increased carbon emissions saying the fact people living there would have easy access to facilities they would not be encouraged to own a car.

He found the council had acted unreasonably in refusing the application and awarded partial costs to the developer Acorn Blue who must submit them to Cornwall Council.

Marks and Spencer closed its store in Falmouth on Saturday, February 2, 2019 after being in the town for more than 80 years. It originally opened in 1933.

Acorn Blue have been asked for a response.