Cornwall – a Tory developers’ paradise – “stop these disastrous plans!”

Posted on: 4th October 2020


The Conservatives see Cornwall as a developers’ paradise. Now they want to set that policy in concrete. And with a large Parliamentary majority and a pliant bunch of obedient MPs representing Cornwall there’s little to stop them…

Their proposed changes to the planning system will put greed before need, accelerate volume house building and drive an accelerating market for second homes. It’ll make it easier for developers to milk the system and fill their boots, harder for our local communities to meet local housing need and will operate to the massive detriment of our environment including our biodiversity.

Gone are the good old days when Ministers maintained a pretense that local authorities could set their own house building numbers. Which of course they never could; especially under the Conservatives. From now on Government will simply impose. Just like they did when they added an extra 7,700 homes onto Cornwall’s housing figures last time to “accommodate the demand for second homes”!

The Conservatives forced Cornwall to take a staggering 52,500 extra homes in the present plan period (2010-2030). And now they want to ratchet up the house-building even further by an unfeasible 20-30,000 more! Large volume developers and land value speculators must be rubbling their hands. This is disastrous for Cornwall. It will be to the massive detriment of our communities, our precious environment and our already over-burdened infrastructure and services.

Meanwhile those like me in the charitable housing sector – who already struggle to navigate a system largely tipped against us and our efforts to deliver genuinely affordable homes which meet local need in perpetuity – fear these changes will make a difficult situation even worse.

PM Johnson launched the Conservative’s proposals by bemoaning “newt-counting delays”. Though his Party is always keen enough to greenwash themselves when the opportunity arises their real attitude to the environment is exposed when the mask slips…just as it did when they launched their proposals.

The new system will favour the already favoured land-fall-profit-driven land value speculators and high volume low quality developers. Local communities which have carefully prepared local Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDPs) in an attempt to withstand the already high house numbers will see those plans effectively ripped up. Local NDPs have been or are being carefully preparing in a way which attempts to minimise the impact of the Government’s massive developers’ charter on their communities and the already struggling infrastructure (roads, schools, heath and care services etc) but they will now find that developers can override them.

Unless local Conservative MPs grow a spine and stand up to their masters these proposals will be nodded through by Parliament very soon and the accelerated destruction of Cornwall will be given the green light.

Andrew George was a co-author of the book “Cornwall at the Crossroads” (with Dr Bernard Deacon and Dr Ron Perry) thirty years ago. The book was the first to challenge many of the assumptions behind the growth-led development plans for Cornwall at the time, and is still referenced today.

Andrew is currently the CEO of Cornwall Community Land Trust which produces small community-led projects of in-perpetuity and genuinely affordable homes for local people around Cornwall and the Scillies.