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Morval Parish Council
Views over the parish of Morval Parish

Full News Report

18th December 2023

Parish Council loses planning battle over Little Chimneys

CORNWALL Planners have gone against Morval Parish Council’s wishes and granted planning consent for an additional five, three-bedroomed houses at Little Chimneys – an area of land off the ‘cut-through’ linking the B3253 (Hessenford to Looe road) and the A387 in Widegates village.

The parish council initially opposed the application as being contrary to their newly-adopted Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) but planning officers took a different view and said that there was nothing in planning policy by which permission could be refused.

The parish council was, however, successful in getting the application ‘called in’ (meaning it was not merely decided by planning officers as is so often the case these days) and at the county’s East Planning Committee meeting both Cornwall councillor Armand Toms and parish council vice-chairman John Collings highlighted the parish council’s objections.

Cllr Toms said that an additional five open market houses would do nothing to resolve the lack of affordable homes in the village, and he also voiced concerns about the pedestrian access from the site to the village.

The County Council’s Rural Exception Sites policy says that an area should be close to and within ‘a short and safe walk.’ But Cllr Toms echoed parishioners’ concerns over the pedestrian links to the village, given the narrowness of the nearby one-way road and vehicle speeds.

Cllr Collings said that even if the parish had to accept that their NDP wasn’t strong enough to oppose the development, the application was certainly contrary to the spirit of that residents-endorsed Plan.

He also said that the parish council did not accept that the application was a ‘rounding-off’ of the development at Little Chimneys and he quoted the Chief Planning Officer’s Advice Note on Infill/Rounding Off requirements which suggested: ‘Local residents are well placed to assist with making this judgement; asking the opinions of the Parish / (County ward) members will be useful.’

However, the parish council vice-chairman added: “We have never consulted in this particular respect.”

Cllr Collings also said that the Chief Planning Officer’s view, in relation to rounding-off was that ‘it is not intended to facilitate continued incremental growth.’

“But we say that this application, after work has already started on the initial dwellings, is the exact definition of incremental growth and, therefore, cannot reasonably be seen as rounding off,” argued Cllr Collings. 

He also drew the committee’s attention to the views of the Council’s Principal Public Space Officer who was recommending that no additional development was permitted until the lack of any public open space serving the village was addressed.

Cllr Collings told the committee: “That officer’s full report (available on the planning web portal but not, I noticed, included in the bundle of papers before you today) also states: ‘Were the nine dwellings to have been proposed at the same time, this matter would have been highlighted earlier. It does not seem acceptable that a piecemeal approach to development should be rewarded.’”

He added: “My parish council is perplexed by how the planning report before you (the committee) refers to your officers’ sympathy with our views, and our desire for more affordable housing, yet still recommends this application for approval, knowing full well that these houses will not meet the affordable criteria. 

“You are kidding yourselves if you believe that these five open market homes will have any impact on Cornwall’s desperate housing and homeless crisis.”

He said he believed that if the original application had been for nine dwellings it might well have been refused. 

“Four bungalows were initially allowed (and, incidentally, subsequently changed to houses; an alteration which my parish council opposed). Now the developers are back seeking another five houses. 

“Nine in one go, we say, would have been rejected. 

“If you allow the piecemeal development on the site to provide what the applicants really wanted in the first place, well, they must certainly believe in Father Christmas because all their Christmasses will have come at once…’

No members of the public spoke at the meeting nor did the developers (Mr D Barton and Mr R Pawson, of Llewella Ltd, Plymouth).

Planning Committee members described the lack of public open space in Widegates as both ‘unfortunate’ and ‘regrettable’ but did point out that, under the issue of a planning permission, the developers would be required to make a financial contribution of £13,096 towards providing an open space – although one councillor agreed with Cllr Toms that such a sum of money would not go far and said it was perhaps time that the county council re-visited how those amounts were calculated, since it was clearly an inadequate figure.