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CPRE calls for 'Trelawny's Army' to protect Cornish landscape

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 17, 2013

By Peter Hall

Comments (16)

A new Trelawny’s Army is being recruited to help protect the Cornish landscapes and its buildings, with the re-launch of the county branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

The call to action was made by the new chairman, Harold Tinworth, who told a meeting in Truro at the weekend: “We have to endeavour to ensure Trelawny’s Army mobilises to protect our heritage. We need to be a voice for Cornwall – to lead and co-ordinate a defence when we see a situation that needs our attention.”

Mr Tinworth, a former chief executive of a large London borough who now lives in west Cornwall, said there was a very real threat to Cornwall from developers and a loss of protection through the National Policy Framework. He stressed: “As things stand you can almost get planning permission for anything. We literally face having concrete poured more and more on the green of Cornwall – unless we take action.”

He had just been elected chairman at a meeting which reconstituted the county CPRE branch, and he spoke about sending a “positive message” to the people of Cornwall, not a “pull-up-the-drawbridge” approach to all planning applications. But the fact remained that 32,000 housing approvals had been granted for Cornwall, and it was impossible to under-estimate the huge national pressure to build new houses.

“But this is a very special place. After all, five million people come here every year on holiday to recharge themselves. So we must protect our uniqueness,” he insisted. There was a magic and specialness about the place.

Alluding to the current planning system and the efforts of developers, he explained: “We cannot just fight the crocodiles, because once you’ve beaten one another will jump up. We have to drain the swamp. And to do that we need to have a strategic response in place.”

The CPRE would have to prioritise the most important areas of concern in Cornwall, he advised. Now there was a real opportunity. The voice for Cornwall would be about supporting local people and producing local plans that would suit them – but proper organisation and focus was critical; and a recruiting drive, aimed to increase county branch membership from 330 to 1,000.

The meeting elected officers and appointed trustees, and voted to adopt the model constitution used by other county branches. Taking the chair was Tony Hilton, the South West regional chairman of the CPRE, which has seven county branches. He told the reformed branch: “A lot of effort has gone into this, and the rest of the CPRE nationally is watching developments in this vital county very closely. You have an excellent group of people to lead you, which is just as well because there is a really big job to be done in Cornwall.

“Our opponents would love to portray us simply as nimbies... but we are doing this for everyone in Cornwall. We have to be an evidence-based organisation – good on facts and not just on emotions.”

He spoke of the need to spread the message about the work of the CPRE, and to collaborate with other organisations, such as the National Trust and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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  • tphomes  |  December 18 2013, 9:17PM

    No...i'm not a developer, landowner or investor. But i do know how the planning system works and i live in the real world. Why would me pointing out reality mean that i have to have some kind of finger in the pie...i simply pointed out that the mood music for planning and the 'level of demand' is set by others outside of Cornwall ( as it is for every other area of the country) so lambasting planners for allowing development to happen is illogical. I don't disagree with many of the things you say. Bad planning decisions have to be challenged and i think CPRE should concentrate on ensuring bad planning decisions don't happen and challenging them when they do occur rather than the unrealistic ideological stance they take on the broad thrust of planning policy. They could be a force for good in Cornwall rather than the ineffective shouting from the sidelines they like to indulge in. And, no i don't favour unrestrained development but i'm not going to waste my time shouting and getting annoyed by things outside my control (outside of using my democratic vote) and will spend my time where it has most affect - by campaigning against things which i think are bad developments and supporting them where i think they have got things right. You can shoot me for being a pragmatist...but not for the things you have accused me of.

    Rate   -2
  • Gurnards_Head  |  December 17 2013, 2:04PM

    Eugene I like much of what you say, there is a tiny element of bitter recidivists who get all Cornish activists tarred with the same brush which plays to those who wish to dismiss us. Nobody in their right mind would advocate blowing up the Tamar Bridge but a true visionary would have advocated a combined road and rail tunnel. Of course we cannot live of broccoli alone either nutritionally or economically but have you noticed the scale of farming in Cornwall and its pace of development over the past decade, collectively brassicas potatoes and bulbs are very significant economic drivers part of an economy that is far from totally reliant on deck chairs and cream teas. There are isolated pockets of high tech engineering and electronics many of which quietly punch far above their weight inconspicuous insofar that the widgets they produce can be shipped out in a white van but there are also several highly successful produce hauliers who have grown up on the back of the agricultural revolution not to mention real manufacturers like Teagle Machinery or Pendennis Shipyard. So our econonomy is not the total Dodo that many would wish to portray to justify building Cornwall out of recession but which will actually compound the pressures we already face from to much population in relation to the decent employment prospects that some enjoy. Building houses for blow in's and tin sheds for them to shop in will solve nothing it will merely perpetuate the minimum wage cycle of despair that the large corporate retailers and holiday operators rely on. There is much to be optimistic about if the planners and developers are reined in and Cornish people come to appreciate the wisdom of investing in themselves from within rather than *****ing and moaning about how hard done by they are while waiting for the next handout.

    Rate   6
  • eugene_morice  |  December 16 2013, 10:58PM

    I am deeply, deeply sceptical regarding Mr Tinworth and his ideas. There isn't one sane person in Cornwall who would want its beauty sullied by rampant, unplanned development. At the same time, however, there is an unhealthy inward looking streak to the character of much of what he is suggesting. As someone born in Penwith who had to go away for 22 years to work (before being able to return thankfully in my 40's) due to the lack of suitable employment opportunities and as a college lecturer I encounter far too many young people who feel that their homeland has too little to offer them in the way of a future. Far too many older people (both natives and incomers) regard Cornwall as some kind of "chocolate box Shangri la" They retain a vision of Cornwall that is firmly stuck in the " good old days" ( possibly the 50's or the 60's) and are loathed to see it change to anyone else's advantage but their own. It is a sad statistical fact that Cornwall is the poorest county in England. So poor in fact as to qualify for the highest level of EU Convergence Funding. We are 250 miles from the seat of power and we have infrastructure that is so poor that it takes the same time to get from Penzance to Plymouth (65 miles) by train as it does to get from Leeds to London (170 miles) Full time jobs with decent pay are hard to come by and affordable housing even more so (Post war many or most Cornish villages saw some social housing built. I wonder what Mr, Tinworth would make of that if it happened again!). In terms of economic development attempts at it seem piecemeal, very short term and incoherent Sometimes they are simply projects dreamed up by politicians in London trying to make a short term political point (I dearly hope this is not the case regarding the Enterprise Zone around Newquay Airport). At other times projects that would develop the local economy fall foul of a local planning regime which seems more designed to serve the purposes of local politicians and local vested interests than anything else ( I cite the Stadium for Cornwall and the original plan, some years ago, to site the Combined Universities for Cornwall outside Penzance in this regard). Too often the "ball" has been dropped! I repeat, nobody wants to see the beauty of Cornwall irrevocably harmed, but blowing up the Tamar Bridge and living off broccoli isn't an option either! if you have children or grandchildren and you want to see them have a sound future in Cornwall, Mr Tinworth and his associates have very little to offer you

    Rate   1
  • break  |  December 16 2013, 10:38PM

    West Country,the hints in the name.

    Rate   -3
  • robzrob  |  December 16 2013, 10:36PM

    Let people do what they like with their own property. Central planning of any kind's absurd.

    Rate   -5
  • robzrob  |  December 16 2013, 10:30PM

    We need an organisation to protect us from Cornwall Council.

    Rate   4
  • Gurnards_Head  |  December 16 2013, 7:14PM

    Pink diesel (I hope you are not running your car on it BTW) your point is spurious and it is not really necessary to repeat yourself... unlike Kent or Surrey which adjoin a huge conurbation Cornwall is a long narrow and from a communications perspective isolated peninsula not ideally suited to high population density because its unique scenery is its greatest tourist asset. Any damage to tourism or food production from the loss of land and amenity will quickly and negatively impact on tourism. I respectfully suggest that those who desire living in the high population densities you refer to ought seriously to consider relocating to Kent or Surrey

    Rate   9
  • Gurnards_Head  |  December 16 2013, 7:04PM

    Tphomes your title and tone tends to suggest you could be a developer so you are quite within your rights to fire back with your version of events. Planners may as you suggest be "the meat in the sandwich" that is what they accept when they take the job on, they are also career civil servants with all the benefits that bestows on them I don't care what you say from where I sit they appear too cosy with developers instead of protecting the best interests of their actual employers you and I. There is no doubt that some appallingly bad planning decisions have been taken that will sit uncomfortably with the infrastructure that was never designed to support the resultant inappropriate developments when they are eventually delivered. Take the area north of the A390 where any development should have been from the centre outwards rather from the extremity near Penstraze inwards, then there is Woodleigh Grange where the cringe worthy admission that the Newbridge Lane roundabout will be unable to cope with all the extra vehicles with out unbudgeted costly alterations to existing traffic lanes is another damning indictment of bad planning. No greenfield sites should be built on in any area until all possible brownfield sites have been used up, it should be a planning requirement that all new houses and industrial units with suitable roof elevations should be fitted with solar panels and the affordable housing sector should deliver all the units needed for genuine local needs before speculative open market units on greenfield sites are even considered. Organic growth is necessary and desirable but your vision of unbridled speculative development by major corporate builders on greenfield sites in open countryside designed to artificially inflate our population with unfettered inward migration is unacceptable. In reference to your suggestion that I "put my money where my mouth is" I have and continue to challenge the decisions but the fact that I am pointedly ignored tends in my view to give some currency to my repeated assertion that the planning process is in reality unaccountable and therefore undemocratic which suggests that it really is out of control.

    Rate   6
  • tphomes  |  December 16 2013, 3:28PM

    So Gurnards Head, just who exactly do you expect to hold CC planners to account for their collusion with developers? Its an easy accusation to make but the reality of the situation is that there is political pressure to build more houses and promote economic growth...and that is because there is a real housing shortage and a **** poor economy. CC planning officers are the meat in that particular sandwich. If CC was getting their decisions 'more wrong' in the context of the planning system then they would be spending most of their time in front of the planning inspector than assessing applications and that is not the case. CC planning officers have to abide by the planning system...if they ignored what the Government lays out in it's planning law and guidance they WOULD be called to account...by the planning inspectors and through judicial review. Even local councillors have to abide by the system or risk the council being dragged through appeals on every decision they make...a real good use of public money that would be. You don't like the national planning system then you have to elect people who commit to change it...until that happens then CC are simply doing their job and people like you and the many others who attack them for doing their job need to put your money where your mouths are and challenge these decisions when you think they've got them wrong .

    Rate   -6
  • TheGeofflane  |  December 16 2013, 12:47PM

    And that's St. Piran's flag - the patron saint of both Cornish AND Devon tinners. IT IS NOT THE FLAG OF CORNWALL. Keep buying 'em, China will keep printing 'em. The patron saint of fishermen is Thomas Bawcock, of Mousehole. He was a Cornish-born Wesleyan, NOT an incomer from Ireland. He has more right, but he doesn't have a pretty flag. But then your 'tartan' is a Victorian joke too. How hard it is to hang on to Cornwall's real history. Did you know 4th century King Arthur lived in a 12th century castle at Tintagel. Hollywood currently controls Cornish history. Time you reclaimed the truth. Especially about Trelawny - who he was, what he did - and what happened to him. Or go see Santa Claus.

    Rate   -8