This update is to fill you in on the discussion we had about the Pink Hotel at our AGM on Thursday.
Firstly warmest thanks to all those who came. We batted a number of ideas around and although we still don’t have a clear idea of what the developers are proposing, I think we have a clearer idea of how our supporters are likely to respond.
I began by reading out the Pre-App which the developers had submitted to Cornwall Council at the end of June (but which was deleted from Cornwall Council’s Planning Portal soon after):
Pre application advice for demolition of all existing buildings and removal of some existing trees, new development comprising of 1 beach cafe/restaurant, 1no shop/retail unit, 8no residential semi detached properties, 11no residential apartments, site management accommodation, enhanced informal public woodland/nature open spaces. - Pendower Beach House Hotel Rocky Lane Ruan High Lanes Truro Cornwall TR2 5LW
Ref. No: PA17/01864/PREAPP | Received date: Fri 30 Jun 2017 | Status: Pending Consideration | Case Type: Planning Application
As the emphasis of this proposal is on a residential development I also included the passage in the Cornwall Local Plan which concerns change of use:
Cornwall Local Plan 2010- 2030 Strategic Policy 5, Loss of Business Space.
2. Proposals that would result in the loss of Business space must: i. Demonstrate there is no market demand through active and continued marketing for at least a period of 9 months; or ii. result in the provision of better quality employment space allowing for mixed use; or iii. be necessary to meet a clear need for community facilities; or iv. be unsuitable to continue as business use due to environmental considerations
What follows below is a brief summary of the points we discussed:
1. Is the proposal for holiday or residential accommodation? A residential development would require change of use approval, would involve more year-round traffic and would contravene the Roseland Plan, unless it was for affordable housing.
2. If on the other hand it is essentially holiday accommodation would change of use criteria apply? Many hotels are now providing self-catering accommodation. Could there be a limit on the number of weeks in the year in which the development was occupied?
The planning system can’t control ownership. What means might be available to ensure that the development was maintained in keeping with the site?
3. Would self-catering accommodation of the kind proposed involve a much greater expansion of the original footprint than a hotel, even if the hotel was bigger than the original Pink Hotel? Much would depend on the scale and design of the scheme, about which we know nothing at present.
4. What kind of development would be most appropriate, given the special qualities of the Roseland both in terms of its landscape and its increasing reputation as a desirable tourist destination? With reference to other high quality hotels in the surrounding area, would a higher-end boutique hotel, a restaurant with rooms or self-catering accommodation with a cafe be what is most needed or most desirable?
5. Would the development be classified as a major development within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty? It would be important to work collectively with the AONB Unit and the National Trust to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to protect the site and the surrounding area.
6. Many people raised environmental considerations. Wet woodland, as exists behind the hotel, is a priority habitat. As the hotel has been closed for 10 years the site’s importance as a habitat may well have increased. Bats are known to be present. It was suggested that it could be beneficial to spend some FPB funds to employ an ecologist to assess the special nature of the site, including a bat survey. This could be carried out as a desk survey without necessarily having access to the whole of the site itself. Much evidence could be gathered by observation from outside the boundary.
7. Mention was made of the Cornwall Environmental Growth Strategy and the need to check how the application might or might not accord with it.
8. Access, both in terms of building and ongoing running of the accommodation, was raised as a major concern. How could building equipment be brought on site, given the instability of the cliff, the narrowness of Rocky Lane and the absence of any other access point? Creating an additional access point, as suggested in a previous application, would create further damage to the site.
9. Flooding and sewage issues were also raised.
10. Moving on to what kind of development people might prefer, it seems the general consensus is to keep an open mind until concrete plans are put forward. At the same time many of those present would like know if a developer can be found who would be interested in building a small hotel. The developers might well argue that the site is not for sale and in any case a hotel would not be economically viable, given the value of the land. Might the Friends of Pendower be able to find a potential hotel developer prepared to present a strong business case demonstrating that a small hotel could be equally viable, if not more so. Successful Roseland hotels such as the Driftwood are a case in point.
11. Several people wondered if the Friends of Pendower could be a catalyst to attract the interest of other kinds of investor. Mark Warner Holidays, the current majority owner of the site as we understand it, is not the kind of developer whose business model is necessarily most suited to the unique requirements of this special site.
12. In general people present were creative and open to various possibilities. Perhaps a care home or a respite centre? Interestingly, no-one expressed a preference for the site to be flattened altogether and become solely a wildlife habitat. The idea circulating in some quarters that the supporters of Friends of Pendower are against any kind of development is clearly not true!
So, all in all, a lot of ideas and a lot of questions, but no answers. I hope you can bear the suspense until the next update, which may, or may not, reveal more!
Meanwhile the festive season is fast approaching, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all an enjoyable Christmas and New year.
All good wishes