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
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
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
Carclaze, and it was with considerable trepidation that I visited
the recent consultation in St Austell’s White River
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
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
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: