Monday, 16 June 2014


I have just completed my article for this coming week’s Cornish Guardian. It expresses my “disquiet” (under-statement) about plans for the eco-town near St Austell and it will be as follows:

It is well-known that I have been a long-standing critic of plans to construct a so-called “eco-town” in the China Clay Area.

I disagreed with the Whitehall mandarins and Government ministers in the last Labour Government who, in July 2009, took the decision that a new settlement – spread across five different sites – should be built in mid Cornwall

At the time, I despaired at the top-down nature of the decision, which was disrespectful to the local planning process. I was astonished that central government could so casually impose 5,000 new properties on Clay Country which had, over the previous twenty years, constructed more houses than any other area in Cornwall.

I also challenged a number of the claims, including the one that all the housing would be on “previously disturbed land.”

The whole scheme may have temporarily stalled because of the recession, but it now seems to have gained a fresh momentum as – to quote the official paperwork – it is now a “joint venture between Cornwall Council, landowner Imerys, and developer Eco-Bos, with the planning process funded by a £1.4 million government grant.”

The latest proposal is for 1,500 new properties at West Carclaze, and it was with considerable trepidation that I visited the recent consultation in St Austell’s White River Place.

There were three – very similar – options on display and I was dismayed at what I saw.

It did not really surprise me that most of the housing is now proposed on greenfield land rather than “previously disturbed land.”

And I was horrified to see that the “joint venture” now wants to destroy the iconic sky tip that sits centrally within the proposed development area.

Two of the options are to “remove” the sky tip, while a third claims that it would retain the sky tip, but transform it to “improve safety for ease of public access” and sculpt it to “provide a new viewpoint.” Do not be mistaken by such “sculptured” language – this also equates to the removal of this important historic monument.

And yet the Eco-Bos website still describes the West Carclaze area as a “dramatic setting defined by the landmark sky tip,” while a masterplan document, from not so long ago, pledged that the sky tip would become a “beacon” at the heart of the development with a buffer zone around it.

I cannot comprehend this sudden desire to wreck such an important part of the industrial heritage of mid Cornwall and, to be frank, it saddens me greatly.

Make no mistake, the destruction of the sky tip is unacceptable and we must do all that we can to stop such cultural vandalism.

Cynical note - previously the eco-town developers even incorporated the sky tip into their logo. See below:


Nig e said...

Is this projected housing intended to be affordable houses for locals or yet more "upmarket" properties to be empty for 51 weeks a year ?

MawKernewek said...

Are the words "eco-" and "sustainable" just meaningless buzzwords, acting as Trojan horses for the planners?

Elvenn a'n Dhumnonii said...

What is wrong with Konsel Kernow's planning department that it seems so ready to agree to greenfield desecration? The sky tip is - to use a much over exercised word, iconic, and is an important marker of our history, heritage and sense of place. Why can't Konsel Kernow insist on brownfield developments only? They seem to be careless about our land and our identity.

foyboy said...

Hello, when i was a member of Fowey Town Forum, we had a visit by Eco bos leaders who were testing the water for reaction to their proposal for their whole scheme for St Austell. As a local born person , sailor, ex ECLP engineer i explicitly asked if they had designs on the Sky Tip, their answer was NO, as they realised it was an iconic part of the area and had no intentions of altering it in any way! It is in the minutes of the meeting( or should be) of which I will have a copy! On driving back into Cornwall i know I’m coming home on the first sighting of it, or , when I’ve been sailing back to Fowey i feel a warmth in its sighting as well as often being a bearing to fishing marks that i was taught as a youngster. An Uncle of mine was a winder man who was THE man responsible for tipping the spoil onto tips, yes he was one of the workers of ECLP who created those reminders of our local heritage.. Eco bos; keep your word; there is more to life than money!….Bryan Boothby.,,,Fowey.