Student accommodation will be built on land off Fish Stand Hill in Falmouth after a planning inspector allowed an appeal made against the council’s refusal of the scheme.

It is the second time in a month that an inspector has over-ruled Cornwall Council’s decisions to reject plans for purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) after the appeal against plans for the former Ocean Bowl site was also upheld.

The Fish Strand Hill scheme proposes 112 self contained student studios and cluster rooms with communal spaces. It was refused by the council because the site is not allocated for development and granting permission would have prejudice the community-led Falmouth neighbourhood plan, which is currently being drafted.

However, inspector Mike Fox, feels the benefits of the development would be “considerable” and would not undermine the emerging site allocations plan (eSAP) and that weight cannot be given to the neighbourhood plan as it has yet to be adopted.

In his conclusion, Mr Fox states: “It is clear in my mind that the benefits of the proposed development to the town and the wider area are considerable. The scheme would directly benefit the universities in terms of their pressing need for PBSA, which indirectly assists their future prospects as educational institutions, given the importance of student accommodation in attracting new students to the universities in the first place.

“ The scheme would also deliver public benefits, in stimulating the economy and local jobs, assisting the regeneration of Falmouth town centre and securing the satisfactory development of an unattractive brownfield site and providing increasing lighting and security in this area. I also consider that the effects of the proposal on the character and appearance of the Falmouth Conservation Area would be at worst neutral.

“I have to set these benefits and the fact that the proposal accords with the adopted development plan against the Council’s primary concern that the proposed development would conflict with the emerging strategy for PBSA, as set out in the eSAP and eNP.

“I accept that there is conflict with these emerging plans, as the Council outlines. However, I can only give little weight to these emerging plans, because at the time of writing this decision, neither of these plans has been independently examined. This is a critical consideration in leading me to the conclusion that I should allow the appeal.”

He adds: “I am aware that many local residents and organisations who care for the future of Falmouth objected to the proposed development, primarily on the grounds that they consider that increasing the number of students would exacerbate what they consider to be an imbalance in relation to the population of the town as a whole and that the impact of some of the students’ anti-social activities are unacceptable.

“Whilst I do not mean to downplay the concerns expressed by third parties, they are not shared by the council or the police, at least in relation to the proposed development. Moreover, the appellant has gone to some lengths to propose improving and encouraging the alternatives to car use through a detailed travel plan, by ensuring continuous, 24 hour, seven days a week on-site supervision as part of the scheme, and by improving security through the use of CCTV and lighting.

“In addition, the administrative and enforcement authorities have legal powers to control anti-social behaviour, including inconsiderate parking, whether this is caused by students or by other residents or visitors to the town. These considerations therefore do not outweigh the reasons that led me to allow the appeal.”