Westminster Parties Are Imposing Unsustainable Housing Targets In Cornwall (NPPF)

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was introduced by the Westminster parties in March 2012 to help speed up house-building.

There is no doubt that Cornwall needs to build more housing to accommodate local population growth, but the housing must be affordable and ‘affordable’ meaning at a price local wage packets in Cornwall can afford. (Westminster has unilaterally reduced the threshold for affordable housing.)

Housing figures to accommodate that growth, assuming the local population growth continued at the same rate over the next 20 years, was assumed to be around 33,000. That still represented a large amount of growth, but it was claimed a lower figure would have been harder to justify to the Planning Inspector.  Cornwall Council developed a ‘Local Plan’ that had a housing figure of 47,500 houses to be built in Cornwall, the council saying anything less and Westminster will impose a higher figure.

Policies imposed by the Westminster parties

And that has been the problem for Cornwall over the decades.  The Westminster-imposed policies trump those made in Cornwall, especially those regarding planning, and is a major concern in an area renowned for natural beauty but fragile infrastructure.

Cornwall Council does challenge developers’ applications. But while most appeals are dealt with in writing between the appellant, the council’s team, and the Planning Inspectorate (which is, apparently, a government agency in Bristol), some lead to a public inquiry and a full hearing. This drastically escalates costs because of the fees of legal teams on both sides and a possible QC, which can last up to two weeks.

The number of successful appeals over the refusal of planning permission, where costs have been awarded against Cornwall Council, is rising to unaffordable levels and it’s the people of Cornwall footing the bill.  Cornwall could  be placed in a position where it can no longer challenge developers’ planning applications.

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Concreting over Cornwall

Infrastructure crisis

Westminster’s ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ is based upon a ‘presumption in favour’ that has led to unchecked and damaging development in many areas. Many communites in Cornwall, including Probus, Goonhavern, St Ives, Truro, Penzance, Gwinear and others are fighting against inappropriate development that’s driven more by developer’s needs rather than sustainable planned growth. So much for Westminster’s version of ‘localism’ that gives the false impression of locals having more say.

Westminster’s designed housing targets, set to accommodate and encourage 2nd house ownership and an unsustainable inward migraton to Cornwall, makes it obvious that Westminster, situated 300 miles away, has little or no idea about Cornwall’s delicate infrastructure that can grind to a halt eg:

Schools short of places
‘Bed blocking’ in our hospitals, operations suspended.
GP’s surgeries unable to cope with the extra population
Dentists will also find it hard to cope
Care for the elderly & infirm

A&E departments full to capacity
Flooding due to piping systems unable to cope with excessive housing figures
Traffic problems, car parking, congestion, emergency services etc;
Employment: Local people have enough trouble finding work today without an added inward migration
More waste
Local Plan: In breach of Article 16 of the Framework Charter for the Protection of National Minorities (in which Parties shall refrain from measures which alter the proportions of the population in areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities, in this case, Cornish people)

Over-centralised government

Our farmers need the land to grow the food that sustains us. It must not be allowed to become urbanised.  But  the only  answer to an over-centralised Westminster and its diktats is devolution; not the devolution decided by  central government, but a but law-making Cornish Assembly.  An Assembly that will allow Cornwall to make the polices that are sustainable for Cornwall and her people.  

Only one party exists to bring about that Cornish Assembly, Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall.

Mebyon Kernow exits to shift the power from the corridors of Westminster to the streets and communities of Cornwall. The leader of Mebyon Kernow, Dick Cole, has challenged central government to democratise the planning system and for all planning decisions to be taken in Cornwall. Cllr Cole – who is standing in the St Austell and Newquay seat in the General Election – realises that the influence of central government is undermining the planning system locally. He said: “The Coalition’s ‘presumption in favour’ of development in their National Planning Policy Framework has led to unchecked and damaging development in many areas, while the views of local people have often been ignored.”

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Traffic congested Truro

Cllr Cole has set out a number of his concerns.

• Over the last few years, the unitary authority has been debating what Cornwall’s housing target should be for the period 2010-2030. Central government claims that local councils can make the decision, but it has put in place an inspection regime that forces them to adopt higher targets than the majority of residents would prefer.

• The Coalition has pushed through a recent diktat that unilaterally reduced the threshold for affordable housing, which will be particularly damaging in Cornwall.

‘Upcountry’ planning inspectors have granted numerous applications against the wishes of local communities. One of the most recent appeals allowed a development of 131 new properties in St Austell, even though it had been opposed by local councillors and residents.

• And the so-called “eco-community” is progressing because central government has specified such a development through one of its planning policy statements.

Cllr Cole added:

“Mebyon Kernow is campaigning for all decisions about planning to be taken in Cornwall. We want the right to have a Cornish National Planning Policy Framework to replace the NPPF produced by central government; we want housing targets to be agreed locally without interference from Whitehall; and we want any appeal process to also be controlled from within Cornwall.”

On Thursday May 7th, the people of Cornwall have a choice as to how they are governed:  Vote for Westminster or vote for Cornwall.

Mebyon Kernow – The Party for Cornwall
Mebyon Kernow: Contact

Mebyon Kernow – Towards a National Assembly of Cornwall
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‘Enough is Enough’ must be the message from Cornwall Council

Growth: the word we hear constantly from MP’s and councillors alike. It has become the default word used when politicians endeavour to explain their reasoning for more development, more industry, more housing for more people.  But this emphasis on ‘more’ in a world of finite resources should be replaced with ‘enough’.

The economist Kenneth E. Boulding (1910 – 1993) said:

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist”

He should also have included Cornwall Council and its Local Plan.

Bernard Deacon described the so-called ‘Local’ Plan as ‘developer led’ and ‘fundamentally flawed’ as it is neither ‘Local’, nor is it a ‘Plan’.  “It entirely ignores the cultural dimension of its housing and population-led growth policies. As a result it fails to ensure due care and protection for the Cornish as a national and regional minority group.”

Inward migration: More strain on infrastructure

Indeed. A ‘plan’ that is less about housing to accommodate the growth of the local Cornish population, but rather more about excessive housing targets that are designed to accommodate MORE inward migration to Cornwall that ensures MORE strain is heaped upon the Cornish infrastructure such as hospitals, doctors, A & E, dentists, care homes, roads, car parking – the list goes on. All of which means MORE people chasing the same work that the Cornish people require to survive in one of the poorest areas of the UK and the wider EU.

Cornwall Council is quick to defend its housing targets and places the blame on Westminster, saying that if the housing targets didn’t meet with Westminster’s approval, then Westminster would impose the targets. But remarkably, it’s also just as determined not to support Mebyon Kernow’s campaign for a Cornish Assembly and the autonomy such an Assembly would draw down from Westminster.

The Draft Case for Cornwall ?

“We don’t want the way we spend our money and deliver services to people in Cornwall to be dictated by the Government – we want to make our own decisions. Cornwall has a proud history of standing up and fighting for what it believes in and we are determined to take advantage of this moment and shape our own destiny.”

John Pollard, Leader of Cornwall Council 2014

Anyone reading that statement from Mr Pollard could be forgiven for thinking that this is now the time that Cornwall – like Wales and Scotland, claws back the means of self-government via a law-making Cornish Assembly.  

. . .a form of administration that assures the assimilation of Cornwall will be on-going.

It isn’t and far from it – even during the continual reductions to Cornish services, enforced by cuts in funding by the government.  Reading though the draft document will satisfy Westminster that the words ‘Cornish Assembly’ are steadfastly ignored; just like the fifty thousand signature declaration for a Cornish Assembly was ignored back in 2001.

Unlike Cornish identity, having won the recognition that is now enshrined within the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Cornwall itself will continue to be administered as an ‘English’ county and a form of administration that assures the assimilation of Cornwall will be on-going.

With absolutely no pressure coming from Cornwall Council, the status quo is being maintained.  Any form of devolution – from what is essentially an English government – will be what that government deems is suitable for the people of Cornwall in the same way as it has done for decades – and will maintain Cornwall’s position as one of the poorest areas within the UK that is continually reliant upon EU funding.

Support Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall.

The only party that campaigns for Cornwall to be governed by the people of Cornwall.

The Land’s End? The Great Sale of Cornwall by Bernard Deacon

This book should be required reading for all those who reside in Cornwall whose lives WILL be affected by the policy makers, and how the cultural effect of those policies are marginalising the Cornish people and threatening to destroy the very aspects of Cornishness.

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“This book does three things. First, it outlines how Cornwall’s planners and local elites put the interests of future second home owners and in-migrants before those of current residents.  The economic failure of this policy is outlined and the environmental consequences of growth identified.  The book then moves on to discuss the cultural impact of policies that are marginalising the Cornish people and threatening to destroy aspects of Cornishness.

Ssh, don’t mention the Cornish: The cultural consequences of  endless growth

Second, it pursues the question of why a failed, unsustainable and damaging population-led policy is still being adopted.  It finds that some interests gain financially, others swallow a simple ideology of growth, while in addition central government and an over-reliance on tourism help lock us into a spiral of unsustainability.

Finally, it reveals the democratic deficit that exists in Cornwall, before exploring some potential strategies that could replace a developer-led agenda with democratically-led policies that put Cornwall and its people first.”

. . . policies that are marginalising the Cornish people and threatening to destroy aspects of Cornishness.

Back cover:

Cornwall is for sale. Its coastal communities are sold to second homeowners.  Its scenery is sold to tourists. Its fields are snapped up by developers hungry to profit form the demand to move to Cornwall that tourism fosters. Even its distinctive place names are swamped by the imposition of English names in the new developments.

We remain trapped in an insane spiral of housing and popuation growth that threatens the Cornishness of our land.

The built-up area of Cornwall has doubled since the 1960s. The population has risen by about two thirds. However, as the pressures on its environment, its culture, its communities, its wildlife and its infrastructure reach a tipping point, all that the policy-makers offer is more of the same.

This book spells out how we have not learnt the lessons of the past half century.  We remain trapped in an insane spiral of housing and popuation growth that threatens the Cornishness of our land.  It is a warning plea.  A warning that current policies must change before its too late. And a plea to people to help save our land. It is a book that not only policy-makers but all those who cherish the distinctivness of Cornwal should read and ponder on.

Bernard Deacon was Senior Lecturer in Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter and was one of the authors of Cornwall at the Crossroads, also published by the Cornish Social and Economic Research Group.

London-centric policies continue to have an adverse effect upon the people of Cornwall

Over the last couple of decades, the long fought campaigns by Cornish groups and individuals were rewarded when their ethnicity was finally recognised and afforded the protection by their inclusion within the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

The decision was lauded by media all over the country (followed by the usual derogatory remarks that followed on various online forums / blogs that have become de rigueur when Cornish identity is recognised as anything other than English) and included Cornwall Council leader John Pollard, who was quoted by the BBC as saying the new status would not bring any additional funding or powers to the council or to Cornwall.

Given the time and effort that went into having the Cornish minority afforded protection (due to Westminster’s intransigence) this was an extraordinary statement to have made, and has left many to wonder whether the principles of the FCNM which is a legal document have been fully understood:

‘The Framework Convention is a legally binding instrument under international law, the word “Framework” highlights the scope for member states to translate the Convention’s provisions to their specific country situation through national legislation and appropriate governmental policies.’

Over the years, one of the biggest bones of contention for the Cornish people has been second house ownership, and the overwhelming housing target of 47,500 houses imposed by Westminster and implemented by Cornwall Council.

However, contrary to studies that have shown the housing target of 47,500 was vastly overstated, (another 100,000 incommers) and that a figure of around 30,000 was a more realistic, allowing for the further growth and continuity of the Cornish population, Cornwall Council decided to go ahead.  Which then begged the question, what can be the reasoning for the extra 17,500 houses? An over-centralised government; a government with a “presumption in favour” of development that is turning Cornwall into a developers’ paradise that allows for further inward migration into Cornwall.

Treliske Hospital asks sick people to say away

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The situation will deteriorate further as the building of 17,500 extra houses for more incomers, many of whom will be elderly and will require the use Cornwall’s already over-stressed infrastructure (eg; bed-blocking at Trelisk; Traffic chaos; Over-worked GP’s/Dentists), will also serve to effectively alter the proportions of the population in areas inhabited by Cornish people belonging to a national minority, further restricting the rights and freedoms flowing from the principles as described in Article 16 and enshrined in the present Framework Convention:

Article 16

“The purpose of this article is to protect against measures which change the proportion of the population in areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities and are aimed at restricting the rights and freedoms which flow from the present framework Convention.”

Surely article 16, contained in a legal document, gives Cornwall Council the powers to reject Westminster’s housing target for the more sensible lower figure?

It should be noted that The Party for Cornwall – Mebyon Kernow, was 100% supportive of the lower housing target for Cornwall.  And the reason why the party is fully committed in its aims for a law-making Cornish Assembly that will devise policies that are best suited for the people of Cornwall, rather than being controlled by the vastly over-centralised, London based government.

That is surely something the people of Cornwall should consider when arriving at the ballot box on 7th May.

Support The Party for Cornwall – Mebyon Kernow

Urgently required: Those 20,000 Cornishmen to demand once more ‘The reason why!’

Yet another great day for Cornwall’s St Piran that saw the hashtag ‘StPiran’sDay’ trending again on Twitter; more people enjoying the celebrations; the massed flags of St Piran adorning the skyline and of course, the usual singing about those passionate ’20,000 Cornishmen’ we often hear about but never see, and makes us wonder if such Cornishmen still exist – and that’s a concern.  

A  concern because a situation is growing that could see Conservatives taking control of Cornwall in May.  If that were to be the case, it would see Cornwall merged into Devon and become ‘DevonWall” – Cornwall will become even more invisible to Westminster.

Remember that it was only a lover’s tiff between Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg that stopped the erosion of the Cornish border, and ultimately our Cornish identity, in the first place.  Also, the ‘bedroom tax’ would remain firmly in place.

Whatever the usual grandiose claims that eminate from Westminster prior to an election ie; Cornwall will receive more funding; more devolution for Cornwall, the reality is that NOTHING will change the decades of underfunding that ensures Cornwall remains the poorest part of Britain because there is no pressure coming from Cornwall Council that will change the way Westminster deals with the people of Cornwall.

Cornwall is again calling for the passion of those 20,000 Cornishmen and Cornishwomen

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 Mebyon Kernow leader: Richard Cole

Unlike the centuries past, we won’t have to march the 300 miles on London; all that’s required is for us to vote for our local Mebyon Kernow candidate.  Let’s apply the ‘Cornish Hugg’ upon Westminster to exert the pressure required that will alert our political masters of MK’s growing support.

Let’s strive to have MK leader Dick Cole achieve a position where more powers can be demanded for the people of Cornwall via a law making Cornish Assembly; let’s vote a Cornish MP into power, into a position where he or she can state unequivocally that:

“Cornwall demands more powers via a Cornish Assembly, and not because I say so, but because the people of Cornwall will make it so!

Support MK on the 7th of May – vote for your Mebyon Kernow candidate or suffer Cornwall’s further demise; whining about it after the event must not be our option.

April 2014: UK Government finally recognises Cornish ethnicity

Despite the UK Government blocking previous attempts by the Cornish, the UK Government finally recognised Cornish ethnicity in April 2014 by its inclusion within the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM)

The Cornish and Welsh are the oldest peoples on this island and as a proud Welshman I look forward to seeing St Piran’s Flag flying

What is the FCNM?

The Framework Convention is a legally binding instrument under international law, the word “Framework” highlights the scope for member states to translate the Convention’s provisions to their specific country situation through national legislation and appropriate governmental policies.

Communities Minister Stephen Williams said: “This is a great day for the people of Cornwall who have long campaigned for the distinctiveness and identity of the Cornish people to be recognised officially. The Cornish and Welsh are the oldest peoples on this island and as a proud Welshman I look forward to seeing St Piran’s Flag flying with extra Celtic pride on5 March next year.” It means that Cornish people will be afforded the same protections as the Welsh, Scottish and the Irish; with government departments and public bodies required to take Cornwall’s views into account when making decisions.

Market Jew Street Pensans

 

 

 

 

What commitments do states undertake when they ratify the FCNM?

The Framework Convention sets out principles to be respected as well as goals to be achieved by the states, in order to ensure the protection of national minorities, in this case the Cornish people. Parties to the Framework Convention undertake to promote full and effective equality of persons belonging to minorities in all areas of economic, social, political, public and cultural life together with conditions that will allow them to express, preserve and develop their culture, religion, language and traditions. They have to ensure their freedom of assembly, association, expression, thought, conscience, religion and their access to and use of media. The Convention also provides guidelines for their linguistic freedom and rights regarding education.