Editor’s comment: this open letter is published to amplify local voices. It has not been edited.
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing Communities & Local Government
Rt Hon George Eustice MP
Steve Double MP Cornwall’s Representative to the Council of Europe
Scott Mann MP
Sherryl Murray MP
Derek Thomas MP
Cherilyn Mackrory MP
Thangham Debbonaire MP Shadow Housing Minister
All Cornwall Councillors
The Council of Europe
Ladies & Gentlemen
We object to the “Planning for the Future” White Paper
The spiralling building frenzy that threatens to overwhelm Cornwall and eradicate its indigenous people:
For some length of time now, more and more people have become concerned at the destruction of Cornwall and the refusal to properly recognise the wishes of the indigenous Cornish people in respect of their heritage, history, culture and homes, natural and built environment.
The latest scatterbrained plans by an increasingly dysfunctional and accident prone Westminster government are now making headlines and drawing real concerns from those of us in Cornwall who are witnessing the outcomes of policies made up ‘on the hoof.’
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is proposing a ‘standard method for establishing housing requirement figures across ‘England.’ (sic)
Lichfield Planning Consultants have already assessed what this means for the various council areas and have reported that the annual target for Cornwall would need to be 4,054.
The current Cornwall Local Plan (2010-2030) has a target of 52,500 new properties – that is 2,625 per annum.
The current delivery (last three years) is 64,060.
The current standard method is 56,400.
The new standard method will be 81,080.
Cornwall’s resident population is declining (the increase in population is due to in-migration), between 2010 and 2029 the number of households is predicted to fall by 2,000. Including in-migration – household numbers are expected to increase by 38,000 between 2010 and 2030.
The maximum should be 38,000 but it could go lower.
There are between 20,000 and 30,000 holiday lets in Cornwall, lets say 25,000 – so that’s 25,000 houses we don’t need to build.
38,0000 minus 25,000 would leave us with a target of 13,000!
And without in-migration the figure would be even lower.
The fact is that houses are being built largely so that estate agents can sell them to people outside Cornwall.
The Cornish people were included in the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities back in 2014. Already, we are witnessing what a toothless instrument that is. Our political leaders have cast aside Article 5, sub articles 1 and 2 and the fine words lay crushed in the stampede of unaffordable housing being thrown up, much of it sub standard.
More houses means more people means more cars. Cornwall’s public infrastructure is already broken and our public services struggling to cope.
The eventual outcome will be inevitable.
What are some Cornwall Councillors saying?
Cornwall Councillor Dick Cole is now on record expressing his concerns about the disaster that is set to occur. He recently remarked,
“The Government is claiming that it wants to create a ‘more engaging, equitable and effective’ planning system, in which the voice of communities are heard.
But such claims are a nonsense if Government Ministers intend to impose such a ridiculous and unsustainable housing target on Cornwall.
They are clearly not interested in Cornish residents having a stake in one of the biggest decisions about the future of Cornwall.
The new White Paper will be a disaster for Cornwall and would undermine so much about what makes Cornwall special.
Please join me in calling on the UK Government and MPs to think again.”
Cornwall Councillor Tim Dwelly, Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economy has said:
“It was bad enough when the Government changed the rules to allow developers not to include affordable homes on sites of up to 10. That created real misery in many Cornish villages.
Now they have made the get-out rule five times that. The timing is almost unthinkable as Cornwall faces a winter of job losses. As many as one in four could be out of work here after furlough ends this autumn.
The new rule abolishes the ‘section 106’ rules which typically require at least a third of homes on a new development to be affordable. In the small print the threshold of 10 homes was changed to 50.
This really matters because more than half of all affordable homes in Cornwall, around 1,000 each year, are funded this way.
In urban areas a green light will be given to developers to avoid sites over 50 so they don’t have to provide affordable homes.”
Meanwhile Cornwall Councillor Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Homes has said:
“This is a real blow for the delivery of affordable homes for Cornwall, and will hit those most in need of support in today’s housing market.
Due to the nature of house building in this part of the world, we see many ‘fill in’ developments of a few dozen homes, so we will be disproportionately affected by this unexpected change of policy.
Cornwall Council has been a leading authority in providing affordable homes for our residents in recent years, and to see our ability to continue to do so hit so harshly out of the blue is incredibly frustrating.”
What have we seen happen in the recent past?
Those of us who attended the carefully stage managed local planning hearing in Newquay back in 2017 chaired by the incredibly arrogant then planning inspector from Bristol, Simon Emerson, who has now apparently left the public service to become a paid adviser to the very developers who, in Newquay, he privileged while silencing Cornish voices, warned that this would occur.
We realised despite the oppressive and bullying attendance of security guards and Emerson turning off the microphone when local people spoke, that all promises and plans made by the Westminster Government, its agencies and quangos working in collusion with some subservient Councillors and overawed Council employees were as good and permanent as writing in the beach sand. We saw one of Cornwall’s longest serving and respected local Councillors from a Cornish family whose members have served Cornwall in public offices down many long years simply closed down. We all witnessed first hand that day priority and preference being shown to the developers, their counsel and those with only financial interests at heart and many afterwards referred to the day as one when democracy died in Cornwall.
Our concerns and predictions went unheeded and to this day, the Cornish people and people of Cornwall are denied a meaningful voice.
Our voices may be but small but with this level of destruction and building over our beloved Cornwall, they are very likely to become smaller still as our traditional environment, heritage and culture is inevitably erased.
This uncontrolled frenzy will threaten Cornwall’s plans for a better and greener environment, for a real move to tackle climate change.
Dr Bernard Deacon, renowned Cornish academic and researcher writing recently of the proposals said ,
“This is now well beyond a joke. Government wants to speed up suburbanisation, environmental degradation, colonisation, ethnocide project (take your pick) by building 81,000 new houses, or almost NINE Truros, in Cornwall over next 20 years.”
His words are true.
What are we asking?
We are not interested in silly and trivial Westminster party politics. Our only concern is for Cornwall.
We object to the over development we are witnessing.
We call upon all of Cornwall’s elected MPs and Councillors to stand up for Cornwall against this over development.
We object to the proposals being circulated by the distant and uncaring Westminster Government in their ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper
We call for all planning powers to be devolved to full and local democratic control and oversight in Cornwall.
We are well able to make our own decisions right here in Cornwall. We don’t need interference from Westminster or indeed from undemocratic planning inspectors from Bristol or elsewhere.
You can read more of Councillor Cole’s observations here:
Cornwall Council’s Climate Change Development Plan Consultation Document
Here is a link to the consultation which will be thrown into disarray by the unparalleled blizzard of building which will be hitting Cornwall. For every house built there will be double the number of people and for all those people, at least one car and demands on our infrastructure which is broken now:
Pre existing petitions not under our control:
Kernow bys vyken!
John, Teresa, Craig, Tony, Matt, Mike, Clive, Ronan, Alex, Rob & Maria
Elected Members of the KMTU Steering Group
Our thanks to The Cornish Social and Economic Research Group (CoSERG) for their information
‘Kernow Matters’ is a Cornish campaign group. Formed during 2015 to proclaim and celebrate Cornish culture, history, language and music whilst speaking out unashamedly for the Cornish, its members are proud to support the Cornish National Minority.