Newquay gains a place in the Cornish growth league, moving from third in 1990-2010 to second now. In both 20 year periods it’s enjoyed or will enjoy housing growth of over 35%. I set out the plans for mass housing at Newquay last December and you can remind yourself of the details here. Since then, further permissions have been given for 455 houses at Trevithick Manor Farm (Persimmon and Kingsley developments) and another 580 at Quintrell Downs (this last one voted through 18-1 by Cornwall Council’s ‘Strategic’ Planning Committee). These are only the early instalments of the 4,000 plus houses in the Newquay
Master Disaster Plan.
Newquay is the doublespeak capital of Cornwall. The Quintrell Downs application was put forward by the major landowner in the district, the Duchy of Cornwall. This is the same outfit that earns money for that chap who keeps going on about ‘caring’ deeply for the ‘rich, natural tapestry that is the countryside’, which we must ‘value or lose’. Clearly, not much value is being put on the countryside east of Newquay, where the rapacious marauders that are his minions proceed to trash large chunks of it. So the first doublespeak is ‘care for the countryside’ which turns out in practice to mean ‘trash the countryside’.
Then there’s the tear-jerking ‘affordability’ scam. Planners and councillors tell us that building all these extra houses is the only way to ‘meet local need’. Since the 1980s the Westminster cross-party consensus has embraced the idea that housing for the less well-off has to be provided by the private sector and not the state. The current bunch of ideologues has taken this to its logical conclusion, doing anything, forking out £billions in subsidies, to avoid investing in the decent quality social housing that is sorely required.<
According to Cornwall Council planners ‘the provision of affordable homes’ is now ‘dependent upon private developers to provide’. The only hitch in this cunning plan is that private developers have to make their profits by building lots of unaffordable (to locals) houses, to meet non-local market demand, in order that we can obtain some scraps in the shape of ‘affordable’ housing. In the meantime, the Government has cynically redefined ‘affordable’ to mean anything up to 80% of market rent or price. Which in Cornwall leaves most first time buyers unable to rent or buy these ‘affordable’ houses.
In Newquay from 2001 to 2011, when the housing stock grew by 1,750, the numbers of social rented houses went up by a pathetic 84, or just 10%. At the same time, the number of second/holiday homes in the town grew by 1,062. So 60% of the net additional housing in that decade had no permanent resident, while only 5% was genuinely affordable.
For affordable housing therefore, read second homes.
And finally, there’s the overarching doublespeak. Newquay’s growth rate means the place doubles in size every 50 years or so. So how long can this go on? And how will it end? Councillors and the Government prefer not to think about such a difficult question.
The words ‘sustainable development’ in Cornwall actually mean ‘unsustainable growth’.