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'Concreting Cornwall' Warning over new Homes

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7:01am 12th September 2012

Campaigners are attacking plans to build almost 50,000 new homes in Cornwall.
Cornwall Council wants to do it over the next 20 years.

Officials say it will help cut the number of people on the housing waiting list, which currently stands at 25,000.

But new protest group 'Our Cornwall' is warning it places Cornwall's heritage, culture, landscape and biodiversity under serious threat.

Spokesman Bernard Deacon said: "We live in a finite land with finite resources. We are irresponsibly building over green fields and destroying agricultural resources. We don't know what's going to happen in the next twenty years never mind the next fifty/one hundred years and yet the Council's quite happily concreting Cornwall."

But council housing boss Mark Kaczmarek said: "We're trying to keep the numbers down as low as possible while recognising that unless we do something in a positive way to generate housing, employment and supporting renewable energies, the government will say 'your figures are far too low' and they will decide for us."

'Our Cornwall' has sent this letter to Cornwall Council:

Enough is enough. An open letter to Cornwall Councillors

Dear Councillors,

Cornwall Council's Core Strategy is not a responsible or coherent plan for the future of Cornwall.

Since the 1960s Cornwall's population has grown by 200'000 people or almost 60 per cent. That's four times faster than Wales, three times faster than England and 73 times faster than Scotland. Excessive population growth has clearly not worked to produce the economic benefits its supporters claim or solve our lack of affordable housing. Yes all the Council offers us is more of the same.

The Council's Core Strategy proposes at leas 48'000 houses over the next 20 years. It could be as many as 60'000. This increases the building rate of the past 20 years and is designed to accommodate 100'000 more in-migrants. To meet local need and to support a stable population Cornwall actually needs about 12'000 to 13'000 houses.

The current plans mean that we will have to build the equivalent of five new Truros, four new St Austells or two and a half new Camborne-Redruths in the next two decades alone. On present trends we are well on course to double the population to a million people by the end of this century.

We believe this is too high a price to pay. Those things that make Cornwall special - its heritage, its culture, its landscape, its biodiversity - are placed under serious threat. Instead, the Council's plans will produce

.    massive estates on green field sites
.    soulless car-dependent suburbs
.    more traffic congestion
.    more pollution
.    declining town centres
.    irreversible environmental damage
.    significant loss of agricultural land

Enough is enough. This million-plus population strategy is destructive. We ask councillors to think again before the damaging effects of excessive population and housing growth are felt across Cornwall. We need an alternative to this outdated and damaging policy of population-led growth.

Cornwall Council says out of the 48 thousand homes included in the core strategy, almost 20 thousand have already been built or have planning permission.

Mark Kaczmarek is in charge of housing at County Hall and said they have to act now: "We're trying to keep the numbers down as low as possible but recognising that if we don't do something in a positive way to generate housing, employment and supporting renewable energies, the government will say your figures are way too low and they will decide for us.

"Cornish house prices are far too high and we are talking to developers to see if they can build houses which will meet the Cornish pockets. They've got to make a profit but also build the housing to the need that Cornwall is expected to have in the next 20 years."

7:01am 12th September 2012

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