Opponents of an out-of-town supermarket, car park and housing estate on Duchy of Cornwall land have hit out at “hypocritical” remarks made by Prince Charles.
Ian Hibberd, of the Save Truro campaign, said he was left “speechless and raging” by Charles’s video address to the Oxford Farming Conference, in which he warned of the threat to Britain’s rural way of life from “insensitive development”. Mr Hibberd said the comments were at odds with plans for a supermarket and housing on Duchy of Cornwall farmland in the Tregurra Valley, east of Truro.
“This is an outrageous speech,” said Mr Hibberd. “Prince Charles must have the skin of a rhinoceros not to recognise the hypocrisy of it.”
In his video address, Charles told delegates: “It is the people and what they do that creates the beating heart of our countryside, the vitality that comes from the busy village shop and pub, a thriving school, from the church and Women’s Institute. It comes from the tractors in the fields, the skilled workers, the livestock, the growing crops and the landscape’s biodiversity, now so much under threat from climate change, diseases and insensitive development.”
Extolling the countryside’s “spiritual” dimension, he went on: “All of these elements make up a living, breathing countryside which is as precious as any ancient cathedral. This is why everything must be focused on making sure that farmers are able to keep on farming in a way that provides them with a decent living.”
John Stone, one of many Truro residents opposed to the Tregurra Valley development, accused the Prince of “paternal hypocrisy”, adding that his comments displayed a “lack of understanding” of the difficulties faced by farmers.
Writing on the Save Truro website, Mr Stone said: “These 55 acres of best quality farmland were essential to the farming enterprise to which it was let by the Duchy. The loss of land means a reduction in the herd, an increase in costs and, quite possibly, a reduction in milk quality because control over the quality of winter feed cannot be maintained. Never mind the ‘spirituality’ of the countryside, these are business factors which Prince Charles has created by choosing to tarmac and concrete over this land.”
The Tregurra Valley development – known as Truro Eastern District Centre – is a partnership of Prince Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall, Cornwall Council, Taste of Cornwall and Waitrose. Planning consent was granted for 97 houses, a supermarket and 1379-space car park. An estimated 210 jobs will be created. Work was due to start this spring, but Truro City Council is now investigating the possibility of a judicial review.
A spokeswoman for the Duchy of Cornwall last night stressed that the development was a joint venture and that it included a number of environmental features.