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£600m plans for new infrastructure move forward

£600m plans for new infrastructure move forward

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:14am 21st December 2018.

By Local Democracy Reporter, Richard Whitehouse

Cornwall Council's plans to invest £600 million in new houses, workspaces and infrastructure have taken a step forward.

The council's Cabinet agreed two separate reports which looked at different aspects of the Cornwall Investment Programme (IP) which the council is leading on.

Councillors approved a number of items relating to the scheme and also recommended to full council that it increases the council's capital programme by £107m and invests £1m in plans to reopen South Crofty Mine.

The Cabinet also agreed to move ahead with setting up a new organisation which will lead the investment programme.

Councillors heard that the IP was being set up in response to cuts in Government funding for the council.

By creating the IP the council was aiming to produce a return of 3.5% on projects which could then be used to fund frontline council services such as adult and children's care.

The council has already agreed a large portion of funding for the overall scheme and the addition of £107m will mean that the council will have allocated £230m to the project.

Two other schemes - the redevelopment of a large site off Pydar Street in Truro and plans to kickstart developments at Threemilestone and Langarth - will bring the total allocation under the IP to more than £500m.

All of the funding is set to be provided through borrowing, although the £1m for South Crofty is to be financed through the council's economic development match fund reserve.

Cabinet members Bob Egerton and Geoff Brown both highlighted that the council's IP will all be invested in projects in Cornwall.

There has been recent criticism of other local authorities in the country which have invested in projects outside their areas in order to generate income.

Conservative councillor David Harris said he was concerned that while the council had stated that it would need to generate a minimum of 3.5% return on the projects, once all costs are taken into account the return would have to actually be between 8 and 9%.

Cllr Egerton responded saying: "When you add up the cost you could say that we need to be making 8 or 9% on the money, so you are dead right".

Independent councillor Neil Burden urged caution about the project saying: "One minute we are talking about the budget and saying we don't have any money and the next we are saying let's borrow all this money".

"I do think we have to be very careful. It should be a softly, softly approach not 'we are going to spend £500m and we are going to be rich!'."

But Labour councillor Cornelius Olivier took the opposite view and suggested the council might even need to increase the investment plans, saying: "My concern is, is it large enough, should we be doing more?"

Projects which have already been allocated money through the IP include buying land for housing in Redruth, Torpoint and Liskeard. The council has also acquired Carlyon House in St Austell and land for Pool Innovation Centre 2.

It has also used funds from the IP to start work on plans for the Pydar Street redevelopment and Treliever Creative Village in Penryn.

Other schemes in the pipeline include housing in Bodmin, Tolvaddon, Newquay, Launceston and Langarth.

There are also workspace schemes in Launceston, Hayle, Newquay, St Austell, Bodmin, Liskeard and Falmouth.

The Cabinet voted unanimously to support the recommendations on the investment plan and how it should be delivered.

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