EACH week, hundreds of planning applications come before Cornwall Council’s planning department, seeking to win approval for various plans right across the Duchy, with some concerning Holsworthy handled by Torridge District Council.

These plans can comprise of a number of different reasonings– ranging from permission to replace windows or listed building consent ranging up to large house building developments or changing of use of a building, for instance, from an office to a café, or flats.

Within this large and often complex system, there are a number of formats from which planning advice and approval can be sought.

These range from full applications where all the details which comprise a proposed development or work to a building are submitted, to outline applications, where further details are yet to be confirmed, for example, an outline application with reserved matters for appearance may not confirm the final proposed development but rather seek permission in principle.

An example of this is one for an outline permission for 20 dwellings on land with reserved matters for appearance and scale; the reserved matters would require further permission later for their inclusion.

Other types of applications include pre-application advice requests, where would-be developers submit often outline proposals to a local authority to ascertain whether it is likely to gain support or not prior to submitting a planning application.

The vast majority of applications are decided by planning officers employed by a local authority under ‘delegated powers’, meaning they do so on behalf of their employer, however, some applications are ‘called in’ by local councillors to be discussed at an area’s strategic planning committee meeting, meaning the final decision rests with a committee of councillors.

Dwelling at old arsenic mine refused again

PA24/02566: PLANS for a dwelling at a site once home to an historic arsenic mine workings have been refused by Cornwall Council.

Mr Stephens applied to the local authority to build a two-storey dwellinghouse on land near to Greenhill House, Drakewalls Road, Gunnislake.

In their submission to Cornwall Council, the applicants’ agent detailed the history of plans being submitted for the site. They wrote: There have been several planning applications in recent years on this site.

“Most recently the current design team submitted pre-application advice (reference PA21/03114/PREAPP) seeking advice on the now revised and submitted scheme.

“The most recent application in 2020 was refused on the grounds of a lack of detailed response regarding the sensitive heritage value of the site. The pre-application we undertook in 2021 took a step backwards and approached the site again from first principles, this time focusing more holistically on the heritage character of the site and using the existing historic record, and a better understanding of the heritage value of the site to inform a scheme which should respond to the issues raised as reasons for refusal previously.

“The 2020 refusal stated: In the absence of evidence presented to demonstrate otherwise it is not possible to assess the full impacts of the proposed development on historic features within the site and, combined with the generic appearance of the design and finish of the proposed development, with little architectural detailing to reflect its context in close proximity to existing historic features, it is determined that the proposed development would result in less than substantial harm to valuable historic features/attributes at the site and to the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site to which they make a significant contribution, failing to conserve or enhance this section of the designation, and that the public benefit of the proposal, being the addition of a single dwelling to the area's housing stock, is not considered sufficient to outweigh the identified harm caused.

“The 2021 pre-application, and now this formal full planning submission aim to submit a better informed and considered submission which responds to the history of the site sensitively. It is hoped that the proposed benefits to the existing heritage assets on the site, such as the conservation of the boundary wall and office building, along with consolidation works to the stack, will help strengthen the case for other development on the site to enable these repair works.

“The design of the dwelling itself, has been carefully considered so that its height, mass and volume reflect the adjacent dwellings, and are a direct response to the setting. Materials have been carefully chosen, and comments taken on board from the pre-application advice from the world heritage site officer.

“Retention and integration of the existing yard surfacing into the design will hopefully also demonstrate a consideration and respect to the historic setting.”

It represents the latest application by Mr Stephens to build a dwelling on the historic mining site after previous attempts were refused due to an ‘unsympathetic’ design not in-keeping with the historic environment in the area.

Derelict buildings within the site in Gunnislake
Derelict buildings within the site in Gunnislake (Cornwall Council)

This was noted in the heritage impact assessment which stated: “This report details consultancy advice given to the owner of a former yard of the Greenhill Works, which produced arsenic and bricks from the 1870s until the early 20th century. The site has been subject to previous applications for residential development, and whilst Council officers have expressed some support for a genuinely conservation led development within the site, previous applications have been refused following heritage consultee objections.

“Development will introduce a new built mass, and some domestic character to the site, but through the use of an intentionally industrial aesthetic, careful placement and sympathetic landscaping it is suggested that this represents an optimally viable use of the site capable of supporting and being balanced with the clear and substantial public benefit of bringing its important historic fabric into a good state of conservation”.

Calstock Parish Council, in its consultation response noted that while in its view the site did represent an infill on a brownfield site (that is, a site that had previously been developed), it would continue to object to the proposal. It said: “Calstock Parish Council object to the application because if it outside the Settlement Development Boundary in the Housing Policy of the Neighbourhood Development Plan but to note that the design is much improved from a previous application and the site is infill and a brownfield site.”

The WHS (World Heritage Site) planning office, also a consultee due to the sites location within a world heritage site area, noted that the proposal overcame its previous objection. It noted: “The WHS Office notes that the current scheme addresses the primary reasons for objection to previous application PA20/02082.”

However, despite the work undertaken to ameliorate previous concerns over preserving the heritage of the site, it was refused by Cornwall Council’s planning department who said it did not represent sustainable development and is ‘located outside of any defined settlement boundary’.

They told the applicant: “The application site is located outside of any defined settlement boundary and does not comply with policies 7 or 9 of the Cornwall Local Plan, contrary to the aims and objectives of policy HP1 of the Calstock Parish Neighbourhood Development Plan 2021 - 2030.

“In the absence of any affordable housing provision or any other special circumstances to justify residential development in this context, the proposal does not represent sustainable development and would be contrary to policy HP1 of the Calstock Parish Neighbourhood Development Plan 2021 - 2030, policies 1, 2, 3 and 7 of the Cornwall Local Plan Strategic Policies 2010 - 2030, paragraphs 8 and 84 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2023 and policy C1 of the Climate Emergency Development Plan Document (February 2023).

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