A controversial planning application to build eight four-storey homes next to the river in the village of Malpas has been called “insensitive” and “harmful” by opponents, but has also been welcomed by those who think it will improve an unsightly bit of land which has been used as a “dumping ground”.

Developers Stephens & Stephens have applied to demolish dilapidated buildings at a former quarry on the entrance to the village on the outskirts of Truro and replace them with the eight properties.

The application is being considered by Cornwall Council’s central area planning committee on Tuesday (August 29) having been referred by ward member Cllr Loic Rich due to the level of concern by St Clement Parish Council and members of the public.

The dwellings would be set towards the back of the site against the quarry face and have a linear layout of one semi‐detached pair and two short terraces of three dwellings. The houses would be three storeys in height with a storey of parking beneath and parking for three vehicles per dwelling. The proposal is recommended for approval by council planners.

St Clement Parish Council objects to the proposal saying it would be contrary to the Neighbourhood Plan and the addition of eight houses in a settlement of 100 houses would not be in scale with the size of the village. The council says it will be harmful to the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and hedgerow planting would encroach on to the highway.

The council added: “The highway at this point is narrow for passing vehicles and a danger to pedestrians and cyclists. No highway improvements are proposed and will be detrimental to the lack of parking within Malpas and the surrounding area.”

Cornwall’s AONB Unit “does not consider that the proposed dwellings respond to the context of this sensitive location” and has also objected.

READ NEXT: Why are dozens of new homes in Cornwall still standing empty three years on?

The application has received around 30 comments on the council’s online planning register – split between around ten who are in favour of the proposal to build on the disused site which some residents say has become an eyesore, and around 20 comments against, some of which are repeated, which cite possible problems with parking, concerns it’s too large for the village and the effect on an area of outstanding natural beauty.

MALPAG, a pressure group for traffic and parking issues in Malpas, dubbed the plans “insensitive” and said in a statement: “This change will be unmissable to all approaching the village. The dwellings would give rise to a substantial and harmful change to the existing character of the site. The foreground of the development will be parking for 16 cars.

“The Old Quarry is designated as public open space in the St Clement Neighbourhood Development Plan, a document which took many hours of work by parish councillors and local residents to draft. An overwhelming majority of 94 per cent voted to adopt the plan in 2021, which lays out a framework for considering development.

“Although the site is previously developed land there are precedents for ignoring this in planning terms in highly sensitive sites such as AONBs or World Heritage Sites.”

Lesley Ibbotson, chair of the pressure group, added: “Malpas is a dying village, we have an ageing resident population and we are outnumbered by holiday properties and second homeowners. We are struggling to keep our community alive.

“One of the reasons suggested for allowing this damaging application to go ahead is that it ‘would redevelop a site which currently detracts from the appearance of the immediate area’ – frankly there ought to be a much better reason to develop this specifically mentioned ‘exception site’ for high value housing than ‘it’s a bit messy’!”

Carol Taylor is one of several residents in favour of the development. She wrote on Cornwall Council’s planning register: “I have lived in Malpas village for over 30 years and during that time the quarry has been a mess and a magnet for rubbish, rats and fly tipping. I support the application to build houses on this site as it will be far better than what is there now.

“Many years ago the previous owner of the quarry applied for and was given permission to build properties on this site but never carried this application through. However, as planning permission was given at that time it has set a precedent for this site and, as a developer has already bought the site, the only buildings that can go there are houses.”

David Mewton added: “I think the development of the old quarry will tidy the area and enhance the entrance to the village which has been left as a dumping ground since we have lived in Malpas. It’s a welcomed improvement to the area.”