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​Could Truro soon house one of the country’s largest community farms?

By WBCaroline  |  Posted: August 19, 2014

Artist impression for Higher Newham Farm and Village on the outskirts of Truro

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A VISION to create flagship project combining food, farming and housing within “one community” on the outskirts of Truro has taken a step closer.

The developers behind the controversial site have submitted their proposals to Cornwall Council, following three months of public consultation.

Proposals for Higher Newham Farm and Village includes 155 houses, with approximately 46 affordable homes, and set up a pioneering community farm with a restaurant , cook school and educational facilities.

If planning permission is granted, Higher Newham Farm, off Morlaix Avenue, would become one of the UK’s largest community farms with around 70 acres of the 92-acre site gifted to a new charitable trust and run by the Duchy College providing food and farming education.

The gifted land will also be safeguarded in perpetuity from any future development schemes.

And it is a partnership between Duchy College, Cornwall Food Foundation – the charity which runs Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant at Watergate Bay - and Living Villages.

The vision was born after plans for a 1,000-home development on the site were stamped on in July 2010 by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles.

Since then the new plans have be drawn up, more than a year of discussions and three months of public consultation and feedback have taken place - winning major support - before the outlying planning application was submitted, which includes an updated masterplan for the site near the Arch Hill roundabout.

Vicky Garner, project co-ordinator, said: “It’s been a busy few months behind the scenes as we gather as much feedback as we can around the proposals. We’ve been talking to schools and education providers, voluntary sector organisations and community groups and these discussions have helped shape our evolving plans.

Cornwall Council will hold its own public consultation, likely to be in September, before the proposals go before the Strategic Planning Committee later this autumn.

Dr Phil Le Grice, head of Rural Economy at Duchy College, said: “Community farms such as this are brilliant vehicles to deliver real hands on experiences to the people who live around them, focusing on the plough to plate message and hopefully encouraging some young people to consider agriculture as a career.”

Farming industry experts are warning that if 60,000 new students are not found there will be a future skills shortage for the industry.

“The ethos at Duchy College is about making learning work - delivering young people with the right skills and experiences to help them progress in their chosen careers and Higher Newham is a fantastic location to deliver this”, added Dr Le Grice

Matthew Thomson, chief executive of Cornwall Food Foundation, is behind the scheme because it provides a “unique opportunity to work with people and food to improve the economy, environment and health of Cornwall.”

The developers are welcoming questions and queries, and a Friends of Higher Newham network is open to anyone interested in the project proposals.

A community fete takes place on Sunday, September 7, between 11am to 4pm, where anyone interested can visit the site. Tickets are free via www.highernewham.com

To comment on the plans visit http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/planning/online-planning-register.

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