Cornwall's rural coasts and countryside and particularly those with nationally recognised designations such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are valuable economic assets in their own right.
They are the principal reason why Cornwall enjoys such a high level of diversity in visitor profiles and are directly responsible for sustaining tourism outside the primary holiday periods.
However their value is not only economic. In an increasingly stressful world, such places provide a vital resource, contributing to the physical and mental wellbeing of all those who visit; local people, Cornish residents and the countless thousands who come every year from further afield.
The county is creating a new Local Plan which will guide planning decisions and manage change in Cornwall over the next 20 years, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework and long term vision for economic, social and environmental wellbeing. More information is available at the Cornwall Council website.
We acknowledge and welcome the need for change, provided planning policy also remains sensitive to the need for conservation and preservation of natural assets, which will continue to be a key element in Cornwall's future success, as they are today.
Our response to the latest public consultation on the Cornwall Core Strategy which closed on 2nd March 2012 is set out below. A full copy of the Council's Preferred Approach for a Core Strategy is available for download.
Adequate protections need to be put in place to ensure that existing saved landscape and planning policies are adhered to during the transition period before the Core Strategy can be implemented.
2.36 Protection of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
a. The Core Strategy should specifically include all the policies and actions set out the AONB management Plan.
b. It should also include saved policies of the former Area Authorities relating to landscape and planning within the AONBs
c. The Core Strategy should specify that all planning applications within the AONB must demonstrate that all these requirements are met. Environmental impact assessments should be included in all such applications.
d. The onus should be on the developer to prove that their application meets the criteria, rather than placing the onus on the public to prove that it doesn’t. Unless this practice is adopted planning applications will invariably favour developers above the interests of the wider public.
e. Planning Officers and Planning Committees should also be required to demonstrate that their decisions meet the requirements of the policies and actions listed above.
f. A specialist Planning Committee should be formed to handle planning applications within the AONB. This could co-opt specialist expertise in landscape, architecture and environmental issues, to contribute to the decision-making of the Committee.
g. Further consultation should be conducted with Government and with the public with a view to establishing the Cornwall AONB as a National Park.
h. The Landscape Character Best Practice Guidance should be embedded in the Core Strategy. Planning applications should be required to demonstrate that this guidance is being followed, as should Planning Officers and Planning Committees.
i. Cornwall Council County and local area Design Guides should also be embedded in the core strategy. Again, Planning Officers, Planning Committees and individual planning applications should be required to adhere to these guides.
a. Neighbourhood plans are not in themselves sufficient to protect local communities from inappropriate development. Detailed Council planning policies should provide specific criteria which individual planning applications must meet and which Planning Officers must follow.
b. It is unrealistic to expect local communities to produce effective Neighbourhood Plans unless they are provided with the resources to do so. Effective planning is detailed and complex. Without sufficient resources many communities, particularly those in poorer areas, will not be able to carry out all the work involved. This will, by default, hand greater power to developers.
c. Cornwall Council should provide all local communities with a Neighbourhood Plan guide. This should make clear such matters as the framework, scope and remit of the Plan, the subject headings it needs to cover, the criteria by which it will be assessed and how local people are to be consulted.
d. Cornwall Council should provide adequate help (staff, advice, administrative services etc) to make neighbourhood planning a viable reality.