There is an ongoing narrative that blames second homeowners, and developers for the housing crisis in Cornwall.

Yet, the decision to build new homes lands at the door of planning committee members, and the voices of a few that engage with the consultation process.

Cornwall needs more homes. There is no disputing this. And key to delivering this is the development of new homes.

As a regional developer and regeneration specialist in the south west, we are involved in a number of schemes across the county – including the proposal to regenerate the redundant Arla dairy site at Mawgan Porth, building 24 new homes (including affordable housing) and providing flexible, and modern employment space.

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Yet our endeavours to regenerate sites in a sustainable way to provide places for people to live and work, continue to come up against opposition, despite meeting the needs of local communities and planning policy (and often with support from planning officers).

Our experience shows that the ultimate decision makers - planning committee members - don’t effectively represent the wants and needs of the local community as a whole.

We rarely see, for example, representation for groups who live in rental accommodation, or who want to buy their first home and work locally. They aren’t getting a say.

And, in the words of one supportive committee member at a recent hearing ‘people who already have a home will not vote for more homes’.

So, we have a dichotomy here between the need and desire for new homes, and objection to them being built where they are needed most. The simple fact is that planning committees continually vote against new homes in their own towns and villages despite their obvious benefits to the community as a whole.

The irony of this, and one of the costly impacts of the refusal to allow development within these locations, is that it serves to inflate prices of existing homes. Demand will continue to grow, the supply of homes will fail to keep up and the housing crisis will ultimately deepen. It simply doesn’t add up.

In my opinion, we need better representation on planning committees of groups across the wider community.

We need to consider the needs of those who want a home, a local place of work, whom current housing stock doesn’t serve, and we need greater accountability of planning committee members.

Unless we see serious reforms to the way planning committees work we have no hope of solving Cornwall’s housing crisis.

Duncan Powell

Group planning director, Acorn Property Group