A new bid has been made to install an ANPR car park camera at a popular beach in Cornwall.

Revised plans have been submitted to install the ANPR car park system at Maenporth in Falmouth, after a similar proposal was rejected earlier this year.

The leaseholder of the beach says cameras and a pay and display machine would stop the problem of people camping overnight and anti-social behaviour, including beach bonfires which are forbidden.

James Wright, of Maenporth Beach Café, has been the leaseholder for the beach, in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) on the outskirts of Falmouth, for the past five years.

He has applied to Cornwall Council to install an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) bollard and camera, associated signage and a pay and display machine in the beach car park. The car park doesn’t have a machine currently and charges a flat daily rate.

A similar planning application was refused in January when it was considered that the proposed signage and a four-metre camera and pole would represent “incongruous and visually intrusive urban features which would fail to conserve or enhance the landscape character and scenic beauty of the Cornwall National Landscape [the new name for an AONB]”.

READ MORE: Decision made on widely-criticised ANPR camera proposal on Cornish beach

The new plan removes the ANPR 4m camera pole and replaces it with a single bollard camera and a wall mounted camera on the beach café building. There would be a reduction in the number and size of signs – three at either end of the car park and near the exit, with signage likely to be 500mm x 600mm and “coloured appropriately”.

Mr Wright has written to the council explaining why he thinks the parking system is necessary.

He said: “The first reason is that we currently have an issue with people camping on the car park in their vehicles overnight. I believe that ANPR will deter people from doing this because they will be fined if they do so. Fines are something we are unable to implement at the moment and we need the help of a car park management company who can legally issue fines to do so.

“ANPR is the most efficient way of doing this, because the cameras capture number plates 24/7 and send them back to the car park management company’s office. We also have written into our lease agreement that overnight parking is forbidden and therefore we need this technology to stay within our lease agreement.”

 

An example of the sort of ANPR bollard that could be installed at Maenporth beach car park in Falmouth (Pic: CAD Planning)

An example of the sort of ANPR bollard that could be installed at Maenporth beach car park in Falmouth (Pic: CAD Planning)

 

He added: “Secondly, over the past five years of being the leaseholders for Maenporth beach, we have seen plenty of anti-social behaviour, mainly in the evenings when the café is closed and there is no charge for car parking. Examples include lighting bonfires on the beach, which is strictly forbidden, smashed glass on the beach and car park area, as well as plenty of litter left for us to clear up in the morning. By having ANPR technology installed I believe we will be able to reduce anti-social behaviour.”

Mr Wright stated that a similar ANPR system had recently been allowed at Loe beach in Feock. He believed by installing a pay and display machine it would give visitors to the beach more options of how long they stay.

“I also believe that offering incremental charges will help the local road network. Some days our car park can become full very quickly in the morning leaving nowhere else to park. Because of this, people will start to park on the narrow roads around the Maenporth Beach Café which can cause traffic problems. Incremental charges mean more turnover of vehicles throughout the day meaning more spaces will be available and less parking on roads in the area,” he added.

CAD Planning, on behalf of the applicant, has admitted that the previous application to install an ANPR system was “highly controversial”, receiving objections from Falmouth Town Council and the Cornwall National Landscape (AONB) Officer. “There was also a significant number of third-party comments, the majority of which were objections.”

One such objection, from Sean O’Hea, read: “I object to this application on the grounds of urbanisation of the countryside in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is going against the objectives of the Cornwall AONB management plan and in principle it represents a continuing creep of urbanisation of this beach currently manifesting in numerous signs in the car park already diminishing the natural beauty of the area.”

The planning agent says the altered plan “maintains local distinctiveness, does not compromise the special qualities and characteristics of the AONB designation, includes no lighting or illumination, therefore, will not lead to increase in light spill; addresses landscape sensitivity and capacity as the revised proposals are of a scale, layout and height with a clear understanding and response to its landscape and seascape setting”.

For more details about the application, PA24/01709, see Cornwall Council’s planning portal.