New Affordable Houses – things are moving forward in Flushing
The news that a Pre-application has been made to Cornwall Council’s Planning Department for affordable housing on a site on the edge of Flushing is good news. The site – known as Tregew Meadows 2 as it is an extension of the successful Tregew Meadows development of ten houses – sits in the valley at the entrance to the village.
The Tregew Meadows 2 site came top as the public’s preferred area for development on the edge of Flushing in the NDP’s public consultation exercise and was included in the NDP document which you have recently seen and which was approved of by around 90% of respondents.
So, the NDP process is working, reflecting your wishes.
The developer is Cornwall Housing Limited, an arms-length body of Cornwall Council, and their initial proposal is for 13 houses which, according to a recent statement by Sam Irving would be a 70/30 split of affordable rent and shared ownership.
Normally, a pre-application such as this goes through the Planning Department (or not) without any public intervention but things are changing. Cornwall Council has agreed a new process for developments like this which involves public engagement led by the Local Council at pre-application stage. We therefore get an early chance to influence the nature of the development.
It is good to see that Mylor Parish Council is soon to run such a process on 7th December at 6pm even if, thanks to Covid 19 we cannot meet in person and the pre-application may have been formally decided by then. They will pass on your comments to the Planners.
Indeed, a representative of Cornwall Housing will attend the Zoom meeting so you can discuss things with the developer in person.
It is important that we all have our say, however. We all know of cases where developers put up initial ideas, get them approved and when someone says later ‘Hey what about …’ the architects claim that it is too expensive to change the plans … and the Planners have no mechanism for insisting. The earlier we make comments, the more likely they are to feature in the later plans.
So, what are some of the questions you might ask?
Is the number of houses right? The NDP suggested that we should be aiming for around 12 houses in Flushing over the next ten years and so a figure of 13 looks about right. But could more be added or might that damage the look and feel of the new development. No one wants a cramped estate on such a visually significant site. Or should there be fewer?
Is the mix of housing right? The NDP recommended that new developments should have a mix of housing and, in line with Cornwall Council’s own policy, that estates should have a mix of 70% affordable rent to 30% shared ownership so that people can start to own a part of their own homes. Is this right or should exceptions be made? Why?
The present scheme is very outline but its shows 4 x 1 bedroom flats; 2 x 1 bedroom bungalows; 4 x 2 bedroom houses and 3 x 3 bedroom houses. Is this what is needed?
Some people already living in Tregew Meadows are known to be looking for larger houses, their families having grown since they moved in. Should the new development offer more larger ‘moving-on’ houses – e.g. with 4 bedrooms – releasing the existing houses for those who do not need so many bedrooms?
Any new occupants would of course have to meet the ‘local connection’ criteria, meaning that priority would be given to those with a connection to the parish.
Can the school and local facilities cope? The answer to these questions is quite probably ‘yes’ but, during the NDP consultation process, many people said ‘no more housing until we are sure that the infrastructure can cope’. Are we sure we know the real answers and not just the answers we want to hear?
There are then questions about the quality of housing and sustainability. Tregew Meadows 1 set a high standard. How can we ensure that the extension meets the same levels of quality and fits in effectively.
An earlier comment assured us that all the houses would have solar panels to minimise their energy needs. Is this desirable or necessary and should it be a condition of planning permission?
What are the transport and pedestrian links? The NDP emphasised that any development in the villages should be pedestrian porous and should cater for future needs. Can we ensure that there is a pedestrian/cycle link to St Peter’s Road so that people do not have to go down and up hill again?
Should we ensure that the road leaves a dead end in case of future expansion into another area of the valley as was done with Tregew Meadows 1?
What about spaces for recreation and wildlife? Will children only be able to play on hard surfaces or can we ensure that there is an outdoor green space? And can we ensure that existing trees and hedges are maintained to allow wildlife to continue to make use of them?
The NDP document has a Design Annex which suggests some of the answers to these questions. Although the document is not formally part of planning law yet – that may be nearly a year off – can we ensure that the principles contained in the document apply to this development?
Lastly, some people see a consultation process like this as a risk, or of evidence that those promoting it are against the development. Neither is true. Adding in a consultation does not delay things by much – a few weeks at the most – but it does allow the community to have its say and thus makes the development better quality, more suited to the needs of the community and more acceptable all round. That is surely an end worth fighting for.
We encourage you to have your say.
Details of how to join the meeting will be publicised nearer the time.
The NDP Housing Group