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Affordable housing development in Mevagissey is rejected

Affordable housing development in Mevagissey is rejected

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 2:03pm 25th November 2019.

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans for a development which would provide much-needed affordable homes have been rejected by councillors despite affordable housing being one of the council’s top priorities.

Ocean Housing was behind plans to build 26 homes on land off Vicarage Hill in Mevagissey with 100% of them affordable – 18 for social rent and eight for affordable sales.

However Cornwall Council’s central sub-area planning committee voted 10 to three to refuse the application on the grounds that it would cause harm to the area of oustanding natural beauty (AONB).

It followed what councillors said was an “unusual” strong objection lodged by Natural England as well as an objection from the Cornwall AONB Unit.

Council planning officers had recommended the plans for approval in what was described as a “finely balanced” report to councillors.

They had acknowledged the potential adverse impact to the AONB but said there is an identified need for affordable homes and the fact the development would be entirely affordable homes gave it greater weight.

The report stated that there are 27 households in Mevagissey on the housing waiting list and another 12 registered with the Help to Buy SW scheme.

Mevagissey Parish Council had objected to the proposal due to the impact on the AONB and the extra traffic it would generate on Vicarage Hill.

Parish councillor Garth Shephard said there were also 100 social and affordable homes in the village.

He also claimed that there were also alternative proposals in better locations in Mevagissey which would provide affordable homes.

Mark Gardener, chief executive of Ocean Housing, told the committee that the affordable homes would meet a recognised need.

He said there would be a mix of one and two-bedroom flats along with two, three and four-bedroom homes.

Mr Gardener, who highlighted that there had been “extensive” public consultation of the plans, said: “There is a desperate need for affordable housing in the village.

“This will be totally affordable housing using grants that are available from Housing England and Cornwall Council.”

Councillors heard that the social rent homes would be available at 50% of the market rent rates in Mevagissey and Mr Gardener said that Ocean had “not been able to provide social rent for some time but this is an opportunity”.

There were also plans to provide footways to the development which would provide a direct link to the nearby primary school. The committee also heard that the site was in walking distance to the village centre.

James Mustoe, Conservative councillor for Mevagissey, gave an extended speech outlining his objection to the plans which focused on the impact on the AONB and the concerns about the road leading to the site.

He also claimed that the rent levels for the homes would not be affordable for local people.

The affordable housing officer was asked to clarify this and said that a two-bedroom home would be available for £75 a week.

Committee member Joanna Kenny (Lib Dem) said that while there was a need for affordable housing the proposed site was not appropriate and the strong objections from the AONB unit and Natural England meant that it was not acceptable. She proposed refusal and was seconded by Martyn Alvey (Conservative).

Cllr Alvey agreed with Cllr Kenny and said there were also “wider issues” around the highways and drainage.

But committee member Dulcie Tudor said the council should be supporting affordable housing developments.

She said it was “difficult to get affordable housing for people in Cornwall” and there was clearly a need in Mevagissey.

She said: “There are people on local wages who can’t afford to live there. Local people on local wages should be allowed to live in beautiful places too.”

The application was refused due to the harm it would cause to the AONB with 10 votes in favour and three against.

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