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Dispute over town's need for affordable housing units

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 22, 2013

The Friends of Porthleven pictured by the fields earmarked for development at Shrubberies Hill picture: Colin Higgs

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A wrangle over a housing development which critics say would ruin a treasured beauty spot has split the community of a picturesque Cornish seaside resort.

The plan for Shrubberies Hill at Porthleven, near Helston, could see 31 affordable homes designed to serve local needs and 29 houses to be sold on the open market.

However campaign group Friends of Porthleven says hundreds of residents have signed a petition calling for it to be thrown out.

A spokesman said: "There is absolutely no need for this proposed development and there is no community support for it, which is one of the essential requirements.

"There are 71 houses either empty or for sale in Porthleven and more than 300 properties used sporadically.

"That is about 20% of Porthleven housing stock that is available to the market if there were a demand."

Meanwhile, a second group, Project Pothleven, say they support the proposals which will bring much-needed affordable housing to the community.

Andrew Wallis, Cornwall Councillor for Porthleven, called on the local community to have their say.

He said: "I want people who are either for or against this development to simply take five minutes and make their views known.

"I really want people to say how they feel about it now rather than moan about it later."

The Friends of Porthleven said they preferred a previous development bid by the Rowe family, who are behind the Shrubberies Hill application, which would have seen 50 affordable houses built near the school. However, this idea never made it application stage and was dropped in 2010.

Mr Wallis said affordable homes were needed in Porthleven as there were currently 207 people with a local connection on the waiting list.

He disputed the Friends of Porthleven figures, saying that according to the most up-to-date estimates, only 13% of the town's homes were not in use all year.

Mark Rowe, of the Rowe family, said the application for Shrubberies Hill had been submitted after an extensive period of consultation with residents, councillors and officers.

"What came out of those discussions with the community was a clear desire to see more affordable homes delivered in Porthleven, a view which has been aired by a number of residents," he said.

"Our proposals respond directly to that expressed need: we are seeking to deliver 60 new homes of which 52% – or 31 units – will be affordable properties.

"It was also clear from the consultations that the need from local residents must be satisfied first and therefore a local letting policy will be implemented.

"We can only deliver this level of affordable housing by offering the rest of the homes for sale on the open market. A 100% affordable scheme is simply not a viable proposition."

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