A £110 MILLION retail scheme on the outskirts of St Austell, which is claimed will have an impact on trade in Bodmin and Liskeard, has been earmarked for approval by council chiefs. Coyte Farm, which will comprise a 90-acre retail park, including Marks and Spencer, Next and Sainsbury’s stores, will go before Cornwall Council’s strategic planning committee on January 16.
In his report Cornwall Council planning officer Gavin Smith said the development will bring economic growth to St Austell and improve competition and choice in the retailing sector for local residents, which he suggests outweigh the “substantial harm” it would cause to a grade two listed church in St Mewan and the loss of trade for town centre shops.
“The application would stimulate economic growth, via a fully funded scheme with a construction value of £50m, which in turn would create employment opportunity to the benefit of the local economy,” his report states.
The document states the development will harm the “vitality and viability” of St Austell but would create jobs for the town as a whole.
“It may well result with the loss of employment opportunity elsewhere by the retail component drawing trade to the detriment of existing shops but a significant net gain in employment is expected,” Mr Smith said.
A retail impact assessment carried out by property consultants GVA, on behalf of the council, concluded the development would result in a 28 per cent reduction in trade for shops in the town centre.
Comment – It looks like this proposal will get the go ahead. When we actually look at it, it is not a desirable proposal:
- A loss of a substantial area of farmland – we are not going to produce any more farmland are we?
- Increased commuting – people travelling from Truro to the area and from St Austell itself!
Impact on existing town centres – resulting in a need for funds to support town centres.
The idea that we should seek to develop the economy by building more supermarkets and relying on a short-term construction ‘boom’ is at best misplaced at worst an indication of the bankruptcy of a development based growth discourse.