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Decision Day on St Austell Shopping Centre

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7:01am 16th January 2014

It is D-Day for controversial plans to bring a big out of town shopping centre to St Austell.

Supporters say Coyte Farm is the only way to attract big names like Primark and Marks and Spencer.

But opponents argue it risks killing off the high street.

Ally Watkins is among them. She said: "We're not like the rest of England. We've managed to retain the same idealism and beauty, that integrity that you see in towns like Wadebridge. St Austell has a chance to deliver that. But if Coyte Farm goes ahead - there's no chance.

"Nobody in the period of the time of the development going ahead will want to invest in St Austell so the town will stay dead. As it opens, even more footfall will leave the town centre and, eventually, the businesses will close. It's just cause and effect."

More than a thousand people have joined a Facebook group in favour of the development. Tony Goodman who runs it said: "We either build Coyte Farm, we accept the big retailers in and then the smaller retailers will follow into the town centre, this happens all over the country. Or we say no again and Marks and Spencers will leave, Sainsburys will leave. They have all stated there is no other site.

"If I can get three thousand people actively debating this in two months and 95% of them for it - we live in a democracy. Therefore the majority must rule and the majority of people in St Austell are in favour of this development."

That is a statement contested by opponents - meaning Cornwall Council's planning decision due on Thursday is likely to be extremely controversial.

The fifty million pound scheme also promises a supermarket, restaurant, care home and golfing facility.

Papers sent to councillors conclude: "On balance the positive merits of this application are considered by your Officer to outweigh the identified negative impacts which the development would have. The  scheme promotes mixed use development, creating substantial public benefit and so encourages multiple benefits from the proposed change of use of the land whilst retaining undeveloped spaces to perform wildlife and flood risk mitigation function.

"Approval is recommended subject to the safeguards set out in the conditions and the mitigation that will need to be secured by a Planning Obligation."

7:01am 16th January 2014

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