Much-needed affordable housing in Gorran Churchtown has been refused following concerns it would ‘swamp’ a coastal village.

Despite hearing there is a desperate need for affordable homes for local people in the Gorran area, where houses are currently selling for between £525,000 and £1.5m, members of Cornwall Council’s central sub-area planning committee today rejected plans for 18 homes to be built on land at Gorran Churchtown, a village of 55 dwellings near St Austell.

Planning officer Alex Lawrey told councillors that the proposal would include 12 affordable homes for rental or shared ownership, with six for sale on the open market. The development would result in a “moderate level of harm” to the natural and distinctive quality of the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and in “less than substantial harm” to the setting of the Grade II listed St Goran Church 155 metres from the proposed site.

Historically, there has not been delivery of affordable housing in the Gorran area and the application for the homes on lower grade agricultural land would address part of the accommodation need for 17 households in the area. The meeting heard that the parish council supported the proposal. A similar application, but with fewer affordable homes, was refused by a planning committee two years ago.

Falmouth Packet: A plan showing where the houses would have been built at Gorran ChurchtownA plan showing where the houses would have been built at Gorran Churchtown (Image: LDR/Cornwall Council)

Division member Julian German opposed the plan, which the officer described as “finely balanced”. Cllr German said: “It’s my view that the balance falls on the side of refusal. The proposal would represent an increase of over 30 per cent in the number of dwellings [in the village]. An estate in this setting would be totally incongruous. It’s the wrong development in the wrong place.”

A housing officer told councillors that the HomeChoice register showed a local need for 14 households but there was potentially a “hidden need”, with 39 households highlighting a local need in a 2020 survey.

Cllr John Martin said: “My concern about housing developments in small communities is scale.” He questioned whether the size of this proposal would be “too much of a shock” on the area.

Cllr Michael Bunney, who previously sat on St Goran Parish Council, said he was “acutely aware” of the fine balance between a need for more affordable homes in the area and the impact on the AONB. He said: “What weighs most heavily on me is the complete and absolute failure to deliver affordable housing in this parish.”

“One point that hasn’t been made is the present house prices,” he added, pointing out that “ordinary people with good jobs” were not able to afford to buy or even rent a home in the parish in which they were born and bred.


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“This is the Cornish story where people cannot afford to live where they’ve been born and brought up, and have to move,” said Cllr Peter Perry. “It irks when people come from wealthier areas and can afford to move in. Communities all over the Duchy have to realise that we have to start building where previously it was never conceived. I think that with the emergency crisis we have now that we have to accept that.”

He said he would support the Gorran Churchtown proposal at it was “desperately needed”. However, Cllr John Fitter was against despite the local need for affordable housing, stating that the development was too large and would “swamp the village”.

A vote to approve the application was lost with councillors then voting in favour to refuse on the grounds of the “major development” impacting on the AONB due to its scale.