Bude: the battle of Binhamy

In the land of excessive population growth, Bude comes off relatively lightly. Its population has grown in the past half century by 84%. Although still high, this is a bit less than the norm for the towns of the east, all the others having more than doubled as people are shoehorned recklessly into new ‘urban extensions’.

The Local Plan’s target for Bude is 900 houses, an 18% growth in 20 years. Nonetheless, this is considerably lower than what’s being proposed for places like Bodmin, Liskeard, Lanson or St Austell. Presumably some of these houses in Bude are needed to replace the 180 houses lost to the second home/holiday home sector in the 2000s. More than one in ten of the houses in the town now have no permanent resident.

Nearly half of Bude’s extra houses are pencilled in for Binhamy, where the Catesby Property Group of Warwick fought a long and ultimately successful battle against determined local campaigners. This is on the edge of Bude but irritatingly contains the remains of a moated manor house first recorded in the 1300s. In 2008 Catesby proposed tidying this up by obliterating the setting of the site and replacing the fields with 400 houses.

binhamy1Local people were none too pleased and began a concerted effort to stop the project. Despite the planning officer’s recommendation for approval, councillors, in a rare show of defiance and with backbones stiffened by the effective and vigorous campaign led by the Friends of Binhamy, turned it down. Recovering from their shock, Catesby appealed.

Local Government Minister Pickles’ inspector found in favour of the developer. Yet Pickles still hesitated. At first he refused permission, but then changed his mind. A High Court judge had also found in favour of the well-funded developers, and the Tory/Lib Dem Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework was, in the words of a campaigner, ‘driving a coach and horses through the needs of the local community’. Eventually, in July 2011 Cornwall Council’s decision was overturned and outline permission granted.

Bovis Homes became the chosen construction company. Chastened by their earlier decision, councillors in April 2013 unanimously approved Bovis’s plans for the first phase of 91 houses (but with a public square). This was proposed and seconded by Cllrs Fitter (Con, St Mawgan) and May (Ind, Penryn).

binhamy3Bovis Homes rather gives the game away on its website which has the title ‘shaping a new community‘. Just so. Although this might more accurately read ‘imposing a new community’ (on the existing community).

Bovis Homes profits saw a ‘sharp rise’ in the first half of 2014, up 150% to £49 million. Eric Grove, founder of Catesby, is reputedly the 29th richest person in the Midlands, worth £110 million.

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