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Developer urged to 'listen to the democratic decision'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 05, 2012

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Campaigners opposed to plans for 300 new homes in a Cornish town have urged the developer to "listen to the democratic decision" amid fears that it may launch an appeal.

Wainhomes' proposals would have seen housing, open space, allotments, and space for a primary school built on 35 acres of agricultural land behind Cornwall College at St Austell.

But the plan was rejected by councillors last week, against the advice of officers who had recommended the application for approval.

Peter Crawford, from Wainhomes, has remained tight-lipped on the firm's option to appeal although a decision is expected imminently.

Opponents, who coordinated the delivery of some 1,600 letters of objection against the development, have urged the company to listen to public opinion.

Stephen Henry, the chairman of Save Our Unspoilt Land (SOUL), said the decision reached by councillors was "great news for the residents of St Austell".

He said: "More to the point it is a decision which should do much to help strengthen public confidence that public opinion does matter.

"Rewarding the efforts made by so many residents in attending the many meetings, writing letters and making financial contributions to the fighting fund have yet again proved to be invaluable and without that support this would not have been rejected."

He added: "We now await the reaction from the developer, but we sincerely hope that they will now listen to the democratic decision and not yet again decide to challenge the outcome by appealing, adding more costs for the council and inevitably further increasing the costs of homes which at the end of the day are already beyond the average local's reach."

At last week's meeting, there were sighs of relief around County Hall as councillors turned down the application.

Cornwall Council officers said there was a dire need for affordable housing and they didn't believe 300 homes would prejudice the future growth of the town. They also said the town's primary schools will be oversubscribed over the next five years.

But it was argued the application was premature with the council's core strategy still being developed, that it was on agricultural land, and that the sewage system and roads would struggle.

"There's nobody I've found, and I have tried to find them, who lives in my division who supports this application," Poltair ward Cornwall Councillor Steven Double said.

St Austell Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert described the application as a "Trojan horse" for a much larger application the community had already rejected.

"There's no point having development happen to a community," he said. "It has to happen with a community."

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