This is probably what a returnee would say, some 11 years after the Urban Framework Plan appeared and ‘developments’ have proceeded.
I was brought up in the Camborne–Pool–Redruth area. I remember the sense of identity the communities showed; an example being the pride we took in being part of a Cornish community and our local rugby teams. But what had been a prosperous mining and industrial area had experienced a long period of economic decline. When I left, it was difficult to get jobs. Even if you did, it did not pay much. My father reluctantly moved us up–country where he had found a better job. I went to university and embarked on a career of my own. Last week, after ten years, I returned to what I still regard as home. They say you should never go back. I disagree. You can learn a lot.
I remember much of the housing was run down, the town centres were drab and the shops struggling. There were abandoned buildings but these were usually surrounded by re-vegetated land which gave a rural feel to the area. But large industrial estates with drive-in retail and industrial sheds had spread out from the towns.
But what did I find when I returned? Now there is even more retail and wholesale outlets. New industrial estates have been built while fast food outlets seem to be the main focus at East Hill. Whereas before, the two towns and the nearby villages were quite individual and distinctive, now its all just one urban landscape – housing, roads, industrial estates and shops, one incoherent urban mess. Carn Brea overlooks a vast urban sprawl totally divorced from the rural areas. The old mining land around Crofty, which had been slowly but surely turning into a green area is now being developed.
New housing estates have been crammed into Camborne and Pool with little green space and often only feet away from the road. The new housing looks out of place and are distinctly un-Cornish, failing to fit in with the existing old style housing. I wondered where I was at times – was I in some inner city in England?
Where once there were quiet pathways now you feel like you are in the middle of a town. A fake landscape has been created at Pool with totally out of place housing next to it. A the same time the old town centres are still run-down and battered, not surprising as with the new super highway it’s a lot easier to drive to Pool than shop locally. On the surface with all the new development there is the illusion of activity yet there are just more people crammed in.
The long promised new road has been built, but this has just led to more traffic in the area. I have never seen so many cars in the place. And traffic lights have proliferated, their serried ranks adding to the sense of urbanisation. As for people walking or cycling you would be mad to do so, with all the traffic noise and fumes.
There has clearly been a substantial growth in population but with many new jobs in retail and fast food, incomes still low. There is a wide range of new housing but how much goes to meet local need is anyones guess.
It all seemed a far cry from the optimistic vision outlined in the Llewelyn-Davis Urban Framework Plan, but then I realised that had been just a creative publicity stunt. I was glad to get on the train and leave the place. It was not somewhere to return to again.