Up three places from number 8 to number 5 in the growth league is the area of Hayle and St Ives. Over half of the 3,180 houses now designated for this area are planned for Hayle. The town is seen as part of inland Cornwall and its nearby countryside can therefore safely be sacrificed to the housing which is expected to stretch southwards to the railway line and then past it to the bypass. By 2030, Hayle will have expanded by 39% since 2010. And this is on top of a massive 31% growth in housing in the previous 20 years. I must have missed that time when the good folk of Hayle were asked whether they really wanted this rate of growth.
Meanwhile, more upmarket St Ives gets off more lightly, with a 16% growth planned to add to the 19% growth in the town in the previous 20-year period. Nonetheless, St Ives and Carbis Bay continue to creep up the hills and along the coast. As I observed when I visited this area a year ago, attempts to extend the urban zone eastwards along the cliffs towards Lelant have met with strong local opposition and been consistently refused by Cornwall Council.
The second time it came forward last January it was rejected even more clearly, by 14-6, rather than the 12-8 the first time around. Nevertheless, some councillors were so keen on 235 more houses that they insisted their support for the scheme was recorded. For the record, the brave four were Councillors Candy (Lib Dem, Trelawny), Fitter (Con, St Mawgan), Greenslade (Ind, St Dennis) and Kazcmarek (Ind, Carharrack). Cllr Dolley (Ind, Redruth) was also thought to have been among those half dozen.
A high proportion of new St Ives housing is of course destined to become, directly or indirectly, second homes. Or they’ll be marketed aggressively upcountry in order to entice seekers after the ‘Cornwall lifestyle’. This apparently consists of sitting in traffic jams listening to local radio telling you you’re sitting in a traffic jam. Or strolling across that beach, deserted apart from a few hundred dog walkers. Or admiring the colourful kaleidoscope of discarded fast food packaging that increasingly decorates our fine, old Cornish hedges. Or desperately searching for a public toilet, as the Council and Government have decided they’re surplus to requirements and the money must be used for Newquay airport instead.
Stepping back from such whimsical nostalgia for a moment, one bright spot beamed brightly out from St Ives in 2015. This was the long running attempt to get Cornwall Council’s grant of permission for 16 ‘executive houses’ at Treloyhan annulled. The wilful destruction of the majority of the trees on the site to facilitate those executive properties triggered a long campaign to reverse the decision.
Such post-facto campaigns are rarely successful, having legally to prove maladministration, which the Establishment is loathe to admit ever occurs. So it was with the Treloyhan campaign which, having pursued Cornwall Council to the courts, lost. Nonetheless, its ability to raise almost £30,000 online from supporters and the 6,500 signatures on a petition to save the Treloyhan wildlife corridor should give us some cause for optimism as we contemplate 2016.
What if this enthusiasm and support could be channelled into a widespread and well-organised campaign for democratic planning rather than the developer-led chaos we have. Such a campaign could work for a properly sustainable Cornwall and prioritise the genuine needs of local communities. Imagine what might be achieved.