Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Newspaper column, St Austell edition, 2 September 2015 - Higher Trewhiddle Farm

Last Thursday the Strategic Planning Committee of Cornwall Council made the decision to approve the outline planning permission for the Higher Trewhiddle Farm Scheme.

As I am sure most people will be aware, this decision comes after years of debate about the need for an out of town retail park for St Austell. Many people worked together in order to present the case for this development.  Whilst I am aware that there were some people who did not wish to see this application approved, I believe the will of the vast majority of local people shone through during the meeting.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend both Jackie Bull and Malcolm Brown, as local members of the committee for the way that they stood up for the people of St Austell and fought hard to get the best outcome at the planning meeting, along with all our local councilors who spoke up for this area.

The application had the support of the Pentewan Parish Council (in whose area the development will sit), St Austell Town Council, the St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce, and all of the Cornwall Councillors from St Austell and the surrounding area, regardless of their political affiliation, as well as the vast majority of local residents.

I was pleased to lend my public support to this application.  The Higher Trewhiddle scheme is one that I have backed from the start and I have worked closely with the applicants, Cornwall Council and relevant agencies throughout to ensure the people of St Austell and the surrounding area got the very best possible deal.

I was struck by the overwhelming level of public support demonstrated to me for this scheme, both from the thousands of people I met in the run up to the election but also from the vast numbers of supportive letters and emails I have had regarding this in recent weeks.

This is a momentous decision after years of frustration. For too long St Austell has overlooked by Cornwall Council’s planners in favour of other retail destinations and I am delighted that soon we will have a greater retail choice.

The Scheme does not only offer retail, it will also allow Pondhu School to expand, provide much needed additional hotel facilities in St Austell and go some way to meet the new housing target that has been set.  The development will offer jobs both in the construction phase and on an ongoing basis.

While Higher Trewhiddle represents an important step for St Austell, we should not forget that there is still much to do.   We need to expand our infrastructure, provide more jobs, and retail choices for residents, and to support our town centre to become the vibrant, community focus that it once was.   I will now continue to work closely with the developers and Cornwall Council to ensure that the promises made are fulfilled. If we all work together as we have done in the past few weeks and months, then St Austell can look forward to a positive future.