Wednesday, 6 October 2021

MY LATEST CORNWALL COUNCIL REPORT


My most recent report covers the time period 30th August – 26th September. It is as follows:

1.0 Council and other meetings

In terms of physical meetings, during the last four weeks I attended the Constitution & Governance Committee, a session about Clay Country with senior officers from the Economic Growth & Development directorate, two St Dennis Parish Council meetings (Full Council and Cemetery Committee), an open meeting about the development of a Neighbourhood Plan for St Dennis, and three St Enoder Parish Council meetings (Planning Committee, General Purposes Committee and Staffing Committee).

Other meetings via TEAMS or ZOOM video-conferencing included Cabinet, an informal development session of the Economic Growth & Development Overview & Scrutiny Committee, a briefing in advance of the Cornwall Council meeting on 28th September and a related Group Leaders meeting, a meeting of elected members from the China Clay Area, the China Clay Community Support Group, a planning training workshop on heritage, and the Community-Led Local Development Local Action Group. There were one-to-one meetings with Kate Kennally (Cornwall Council Chief Executive) and Ashley Shopland from Imerys, plus a meeting to explore the possibility of a multi-use trail from St Dennis to the Goss Moor Trail.

Some of the above meetings are referenced elsewhere in this report, and I had a number of further online meetings about a range of local issues.

I also attended a meeting of the Indian Queens Pit charity, of which I am a trustee.

2.0 A Strategy for the China Clay Area

On 2nd September, the four councillors for Clay Country hosted senior officers from the Economic Growth & Development Directorate (including the Strategic Director for Economic Growth & Development; the Director of the Local Enterprise Partnership & Service Director for Growth; Service Director for Planning & Sustainable Development; Service Director for Transport; and Head of Housing Delivery & Development) at the impressive new Venton Conference Centre at Chapel Town, Summercourt. I took the lead in presenting the “Towards a Strategy” document for Clay Country, which we had produced with the support of staff linked to the Clay Area Community Network.

I was pleased with how the meeting went and we have been promised follow-up meetings to consider requests within the document. In an email (dated 24th September) about economic support for towns, the Cabinet Member for the Economy confirmed that “the Clay Country members” would “receive funding to produce plans to develop their economic future.”

The specific “asks” were as follows, with the priority requests for the EG&D directorate shown underlined:

Jobs and economy

· Produce an up-to-date and bespoke employment strategy to support and expand key strategic sites, while bringing forward incubator units for smaller or new businesses.

· Support the continuance of the china clay industry and the emergence of lithium extraction in Clay Country.

· Commission a business survey to improve knowledge of the local business community and its needs.

· Create a formal forum for local businesses.

· Develop a strategy to grow recreational and tourism businesses.

· Audit broadband coverage to inform strategy to improve quality across the Area.

Transport and accessibility

· Audit current usage of public transport in the China Clay Area and carry our research into linkages between various communities.

· Support for increased services on the Par-Newquay rail branch line.

· Establish “on demand” community-based transport schemes to provide better linkages across the China Clay Area.

· Establish working group to explore impact of HGVs on local communities.

Housing

· Support for enhanced public sector intervention to bring forward more affordable housing, targeted to meet local needs.

· Increase investment in specialist housing (ie. sheltered housing) to build a more balanced housing market.

· Support for the production and necessary updates to Neighbourhood Plans for the five parishes of the China Clay Area.

· Create a “home improvement” / retrofit initiative to make old homes more energy efficient, etc.

· Audit of park homes and residential caravan sites to better understand issues in such residential areas.

Health and wellbeing

· Establish a Public Health Partnership to promote healthier lifestyles across the Clay Area.

· Work with local GP practices to introduce more specialist / outreach clinics and services, along with more social prescribing.

· Establish a Public Health Partnership to develop the provision of dental services within Clay Country.

· Establish a private sector / public partnership to promote training opportunities throughout the China Clay Area.

Community

· Produce an audit of the extent of public services provided in the China Clay Area, compared to the other parts of Cornwall, in order to secure a guarantee from Cornwall Council and other public bodies that Clay Country will get a fairer share of service provision in the future.

· Establish a “Safer Clay Country” partnership to assist the local police to boost community safety and tackle anti-social behaviour.

· Produce a Heritage and Culture Strategy for the China Clay Area.

· Support for development of community hubs through the China Clay Area.

· Support for local community and volunteer groups to set up social enterprises.

Historic and Natural Environment

· Request Historic England to agree a Heritage Action Zone for the China Clay Area.

· Request Historic England to commence assessment of historic remains from clay industry and related mining features for statutory protection.

· Establish a programme between Cornwall Council and partners to increase the network of clay trails, footpaths and bridlepaths.

· Establish a local partnership with local landowners to open up more land for public access.

Climate change

· Support climate change action groups throughout the China Clay Area.

· Hold a series of climate change summits / workshops to bring together parish councils and community groups to produce local action plans.

· Establish strong working links between Cornwall Council’s climate change team and local communities.

Covid-19 recovery

· Secure a guarantee that the China Clay Area will be treated on a par with Cornwall key towns, when it comes to the Recovery.

3.0 Local Listing project

Cornwall Council is piloting a Local Heritage List Project, funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It will cover two areas; Redruth and Clay Country (plus some surrounding parishes). A Community Outreach Officer has been recruited to help local residents to identify those historic structures or places that they deem to be important.

As well as being on a “local list,” some of the historic assets could end up being considered for statutory protection through Listing or Scheduling. This part of the project could be significant for the parishes of St Dennis and St Enoder, which have a low level of protected structures and sites.

I am pleased to be one of the volunteers who has been appointed to the advisory group, from which the project will seek guidance.

4.0 Meeting with Ashley Shopland

As a key local employer, Imerys organised a tour of some of their operation for councillors from in and around the China Clay Area. I was unavailable on the chosen date and instead had a one-to-one (virtual) meeting with managing director Ashley Shopland on 6th September to discuss the clay industry and the potential for lithium extraction, as well as wider issues across the local area.

5.0 Community Chest


As a Cornwall Councillor, I have been allocated £3,000 which I can distribute to local community organisations. Grants should be above £100 and the maximum grant is usually £1,000. If you are interested in applying, please get in contact with me.

ST DENNIS PARISH ISSUES

6.0 Manson Place Community Day


I was pleased to attend the Community Day organised by Ocean Housing on 1st September, and to meet with a number of local residents.

7.0 Possibility of a multi-use trail from St Dennis to the Goss Moor Trail.

St Dennis Parish Council has approached Cornwall Council to explore whether it would be possible to create a new multi-use trail along the old railway line that links St Dennis to the Goss Moor. As a result of these discussions, I have been in conversation with a number of council officers who are exploring landownership and other issues.

8.0 Neighbourhood Plan for St Dennis Parish

I was also pleased to attend the Parish Council’s open meeting on 18th September about the production of a Neighbourhood Plan for St Dennis Parish. The meeting was not well-attended, but I have offered to help out with this work as I have considerable experience with planning matters and chaired the committee which produced the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan.

9.0 Waiting restrictions near Wesley Place

The 21-day consultation for proposed double yellow lines near Wesley Place on Carne Hill will be undertaken soon. I have been informed it will be done as part of a wider consultation of schemes across the China Clay Area.

10.0 Proposed solar farm at Trerice Manor Farm

Last month, I reported that Statkraft UK had sought a screening opinion (PA21/08542) from Cornwall Council to see if they would need to carry out an environmental impact assessment as part of their upcoming application for a solar farm. Unlike the other proposed solar farms referenced in this report, the unitary authority has yet to take a view on this screening opinion.

11.0 Public housing for rent

A number of residents have contacted me to raise concerns that not enough social rent properties are going to households with local links. I am presently liaising with officers to get information about this, and I will report back more fully in my next written report.

12.0 Recycling bins

Also, as reported last month, the new Conservative administration has stated that the recycling banks recently removed from council car parks can be re-instated, where there is popular demand. I have formally asked for the bins previously located within the car park off Wellington Road.

I have had a “holding response” from the Council, that said “further information regarding requests for replacement bins will be coming forward after the results of the pilot retention scheme are received and assessed later in the year.” I am trying to get more clarity from the administration.

ST ENODER PARISH ISSUES

13.0 Highway matters


In my last monthly report, I gave a detailed update on the wide range of traffic matters that I have been dealing with in St Enoder Parish. I have some further updates about specific works about a number of upcoming works.

13.1 Summercourt School

It has been confirmed that the safety measures outside Summercourt School (including the extension of the 30mph limit to the east, two vehicle-activated signs and a “variable” 20mph speed limit during school drop-off and pick-up times) will be installed during half-term week (25th-29th October). Some of the electrical work may take place after the initial installation, with signs becoming operational in early-mid November.

13.2 Zebra crossings on Chapel Road and St Francis Road, Indian Queens

Cornwall Council consulted on the proposal for two zebra crossings in March and April. The feedback was positive and it has been confirmed that the crossings will also be installed in the latter part of October. It is my understanding that the works will start in the week commencing 18th October, with the main works also taking place in half-term week (25th-29th October).

13.3 New footway between Harvenna Heights estate and Indian Queens School

Many people will have seen that Indian Queens School has started work on an enlarged outside / play area for the children (see above), which will take up two thirds of the field to the west of the School. The remainder of the field has transferred from Cornwall Council to St Enoder Parish Council, and the Parish Council will be constructing a new footway through this land to link the estate to the School. A local tarmac firm is lined up to do the works with a provisional start date of 20th October.

13.4 Proposed works on A3058 through Summercourt

The 21-day consultation on the A3058 improvements (including the extension of the 30mph limit on Beacon Road, two vehicle-activated signs and signalised pedestrian crossings at the traffic lights) should be happening in the near future.

I share the disappointment at the time it is taking to get to the consultation – but we are nearly there. Fingers crossed, this consultation will take place in October and I am continuing to receive assurances that the resultant works will still take place over the winter months.

13.5 Parking problems at Penhale / Kingsley Village Area

Following representations that I have made about the parking problems at Penhale near the Kingsley Village complex, Cornwall Council has confirmed that they will be putting in double yellow lines in this location. There will be a consultation in the near future about the actual extent of the lining.

14.0 Planning matters

There continues to be a large number of planning applications in St Enoder. Updates on some large planning proposals are as below:

14.1 Carvynick

In 2018, the owners of Carvynick, near Summercourt, sought outline planning permission for 38 residential units and a leisure building on the site. This was not supported by Cornwall Council, who felt that the “residential units” on the site should continue to be restricted for holiday use.

The applicants referred the proposal to the Planning Inspectorate (APP/D0840/W/18/3215936), which granted planning permission. As there were to be no affordable homes on the site, it was specified that there would need to be a financial payment to the Council to provide such homes elsewhere in the locality, in addition to a further payment towards improvements at Summercourt School.

As it was an outline consent, the full details for the development had to be agreed through further reserved matters applications. There have been two such applications. One covered 16 of the units (PA20/02147) and this was approved in 2020. A second application for the remaining 22 units (PA21/04792) was submitted earlier this year and was recently approved.

These two applications concentrated the 38 housing units into a smaller area than suggested in the original outline consent. As a consequence, a further application (PA21/04793) was received for an additional ten open market properties on the site. These are likely to be approved as well, because the principle of housing on this part of the Carvynick site was agreed through the earlier appeal which I fundamentally disagreed with. It is my understanding that the planning consent will include the need for an off-site financial contribution towards affordable housing.

During the initial applications, the applicants placed great focus on the construction of a leisure building, but there has not yet been a “reserved matters” application for this.

14.2 Proposed solar farm at Tresithney Farm


As with the proposed solar farm on land in St Dennis Parish, Statkraft UK sought a screening opinion (PA21/08039) from Cornwall Council to see if they would need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as part of their upcoming application for a solar farm. Cornwall Council has confirmed that an EIA is needed because the development “would be likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of the scale, location and cumulative impact of the development proposed.”

14.3 Proposed solar farm at Tregonning Farm


Renewable Connections Developments Ltd also sought a scoping opinion (PA21/06846) about the need for an EIA for their proposed solar farm just outside St Enoder Parish. On this occasion, Cornwall Council have decided that the proposal “would not be likely to have a significant effect on the environment and an Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Statement are therefore not required.”

This emerging proposal is located immediately outside of St Enoder Parish, at Tregonning Farm in St Newlyn East Parish, but the cabling would run through St Enoder Parish to the Indian Queens Power Station. A webinar on the proposal was held on Wednesday 8th September and it was confirmed that the developer proposed that the cabling would go mostly go through farmland from Tregonning to Barton Lane, Fraddon. But from there, it would be laid along the old A30 through Fraddon and Indian Queens.

15.0 The Great Big Fuss Up

Some residents raised concerns about the music event held near Goonabarn to the south of Summercourt on 17th-19th September. The event organisers submitted a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) to Cornwall Council a few months, which allows events for up to 500 people.

The Licensing Authority has three working days to process TENs, during which time the Police and/or Environmental Health can object. Cornwall Council staff did not raise any concerns, although I understand that they gave considerable advice to the applicant, but did not stand in the way of the event.

I was not told about the TEN and I have challenged senior officers within the authority that elected members are informed about consents for events in their local areas.

16.0 Summercourt Fair

I was also contacted by a number of residents concerned about the parking congestion linked to this year’s Fair, especially as no car parking were provided. I will be speaking to the local Police and council officers about how they could influence the organisers of the event to provide some parking areas in future years.