Plans to build a £110 million retail park in mid-Cornwall were narrowly defeated after dividing councillors at County Hall today.
The chair of Cornwall Council’s strategic planning committee Rob Nolan was given the casting vote after a proposal to refuse the application to build an out-of-town shopping centre and Marks & Spencer store at Coyte Farm in St Austell was tied.
Speaking after the meeting the mayor of St Austell said the town had missed out on a golden opportunity.
“St Austell has been stitched up by Truro again,” he said.
“I believe today was a huge opportunity for our town and I believe there will be thousands of very disappointed people in St Austell.
“Once again St Austell has lost out to Truro of an opportunity to boost our local economy, create jobs and lift our town.”
However opponents to Coyte Farm, who feared the development would kill the town centre and put traders out of business, welcomed the decision.
Ally Watkins, who established the Stop Coyte Farm campaign, said the town could now begin focussing on developing plans to improve the town centre.
“This is just the beginning of a massive journey towards putting St Austell back together in an intelligent way and transforming St Austell town centre and the surrounding area into something Cornwall can be proud of,” she said.
“We hope we can now be left to get on with this without this hanging over our heads.”
St Austell and Newquay MP Stephen Gilbert said the decision was likely to go to appeal.
“I’m sure every member of the planning committee took their view with the best intentions but the decision is now outside of Cornwall’s hands,” he said.
“It will most likely be determined by lawyers outside of Cornwall.
“Personally I had some significant reservations about the scheme but my job as MP is to reflect the views of the community but it is clear that people were willing to take the risk to see the potential rewards and investment in St Austell.”