The Truro ‘new town’ (1)

On Wednesday 2nd May, Cornwall Councils cabinet will discuss the various housing developments to the west of Truro – Proposed development at Threemilestone – A Case for Council intervention. An extract from the Executive summary is outlined below.

Over the next few days we will critique the proposals raising issues arising from but not covered in the proposal.

1 Executive Summary

1.1 The area to the north of the A390 at Threemilestone, Truro currently has a series of planning permissions totalling approximately 2700 homes. They were granted between 2011 and 2014 prior to the adoption of the Local Plan, when the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework and the inability to show a five year housing land supply led the Council to have to approve speculative applications. This has resulted in a very significant development area, with a projected population of around 8,000 people, which will have a strategic significance for Truro as a whole.

1.2 Despite efforts by the Council to facilitate discussion between landowners, developers have advanced planning applications separately and without any coordinated provision of facilities or services. The result is four standalone permissions that compete rather than complement. There will be no town centre (other than largescale, and stalled, retail sheds) and other than the Northern Access Road, no meaningful connection between any of the areas to encourage social interaction and community integration. There is no real connection to Threemilestone, Treliske, Gloweth or Highertown.

1.3 This means that over the next 15 to 20 years we will see a place the size of Liskeard, Launceston or St Ives being built as a series of housing estates led by speculative developers, housebuilders and their financiers. If implemented in the form envisaged by the current outline permissions would deliver little more than a series of competing schemes, poorly connected with out of town/road side retail and commercial proposals instead of the people centre, walkable and liveable places that our communities and Councillors want us to deliver.

1.4 The first reserved matters approval (for 494 dwellings) includes the first section of the proposed Northern Access Road, which is shown as a standard 6m wide road that will need double yellow lines to control street parking. The layout is uninspiring; the houses themselves are designed to appeal to any of the national house builders rather than the residents and are a far cry from the Council’s ambition to create a distinctive and good quality entrance to Truro.

1.5 Significant upfront infrastructure is required for all of the sites, including access, drainage, electricity, and moving electricity pylons and a gas main. Most of the community facilities will only be delivered once significant housing has been built, since the only mechanism to require developers to deliver them is by way of section 106 agreements, which will only deliver new facilities after the need for them has arisen within the development itself. This is why, through regulatory planning, houses are always delivered before infrastructure (as an example the first school may not be open until 8 to 10 years from now) to ensure viability. The scale of infrastructure required is slowing down delivery and requires expensive debt borrowing from private financiers which in turn worsens initial viability. There is a strong risk that without intervention, developers will propose reduced contributions to affordable housing and the things that make for liveable and sustainable communities will be further eroded.


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