Plans to build a Premier Inn in Falmouth Town centre were left in doubt once more after a bad tempered meeting of the town council’s planning committee on Monday evening.

New Cornwall Developments Ltd had applied to remove a legal obligation to provide 21 car parking spaces for the public at the Campbeltown Way car park – the site planned for the new hotel.

The agreement had been in place since 2006 as part of planning permission for flats in the area.
Councillors refused the application, despite confusion over the impact their decision will have.

A spokesman for the developers had argued that removing the car parking spaces would have little effect on traffic problems and parking issues in the town centre.

However, Rosemary Ridette-Gregory, of the Fal and District Hotelliers Association spoke against the plans on behalf of the group.

She told the meeting: “There is no spare car parking capacity during the peak hours of demand, and every space we have should be preserved.”

Councillor Diana Merrett, chairman of the planning committee, told the meeting the council had no power in the matter, and that the company could close the car park regardless of any decision made at the meeting.

When the statement was questioned by objectors to the plans in the public gallery, Mrs Merrett said: “The fact is that the company bought this land a long time ago, a long time before I was even a councillor.

“I do not get paid for this, I did not get paid for looking up the legal documents before making a decision on these plans.

“You need to look at the legal reasons behind this and not just blame Falmouth Town Council.

“We can refuse this application, but if it goes to Cornwall Council and is then appealed, it is not going to be me who pays for it.”

After further questions from the public gallery, Mrs Merrett added: “You people, I know who you are in the gallery, can you keep quiet now.”

Committee member Jenny Booth then questioned the legal position of the council.

She said: “I want to find out where we stand legally from the County Council.

“If we refuse these plans will they be able to just close the car park?

“We need further guidance from planning officers, we need to know the legal ramifications before making a decision.”

Councillor Oliver Cramp said the issue was vital for the town. He said: “For me, car parking is the lifeblood of Falmouth and we should protect the spaces we already have.”

A vote saw Councillors Alan Jewell, Oliver Cramp and Shirley Hrydziuszka vote to refuse the plans, while Councillors Diana Merrett, Charlie Choak and Jenny Booth abstained.

A final decision on the plans will be made by Cornwall Council.