A Duchy of Cornwall development could herald the way for a return to traditional materials and reestablish regional building identities generating hundreds of millions for the local economy.
More than £4 million has already been invested locally by the Duchy in the construction of 174 high-quality homes and employment space at Tregunnel Hill in Newquay.
In its first few months of construction, the Duchy has placed contracts with local subcontractors and suppliers ranging from groundworks, carpentry and roofing, to Cornish slate, granite and blockwork.
The development is said to be a test of the sustainability principles of a much larger Duchy project to extend the east of the town at Nansledan by up to 3,750 homes over the next 40 to 50 years – the first phase of which will begin this summer.
The massive investment has generated hope in the industry that the development will set the tone for a greater commitment to traditional methods and therefore a return to more regional variation in new builds.
Duchy officials have also said that the approach at Tregunnel has established links which, if continued at Nansledan, will generate hundreds of millions for regional suppliers.
Tim Gray, estate surveyor at the Duchy, said: "We are very keen to ensure that the economic benefits of our development are felt across Cornwall and the wider region and are deeply committed to sourcing locally whenever possible.
"It is particularly rewarding to see Cornish slate being used in such quantities at Tregunnel Hill. It is an important part of the county's industrial heritage – and looks wonderful too.
"We will be applying exactly the same principles at Nansledan. Our building consortium approach aims to create long-term supply chains and a market for Cornish materials and suppliers for decades to come, generating what we expect will be hundreds of millions of pounds for the local economy over the lifetime of the development."
Among the local companies benefiting from the Duchy's local sourcing policy at Tregunnel Hill is Mill Hill Quarries, which is providing roofing slate from Trevillett Quarry, near Tintagel, on the North Cornwall coast.
The business, which usually supplies slate for heritage projects and private new builds, has never provided slate for a housing development before, but Tregunnel Hill has taken on three new staff and is planning to expand its facilities.
Managing director Mandy Hopkins said: "We face a lot of competition from imported slates, but using local slate adds character to a property and defines a place.
"It would be nice to think that this heralds the way for a return to using traditional materials in building and re-establishing the regional identities which make the British landscape so interesting."
Wessex Slate and Tile, a long-established family business for more than 50 years based at Indian Queens, has been awarded the first phase roofing contract, using Trevillett slate.
Managing director Richard Lewis said: "It's rare for us to have the opportunity to work with Cornish slate on this scale so we're delighted to be involved in the project. The commitment to using local materials and skilled trades is a boost to many businesses across Cornwall."
The development at Tregunnel includes 48 affordable homes available through Guinness Hermitage. There will also be ground floor employment space spread across three buildings, providing around 30 jobs.