Hundreds demand U-turn over controversial house in beauty spot

Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on Cornwall Council to reverse a decision to approve plans to build a new home in a protected beauty spot.

The council’s east sub-area planning committee voted on Monday (August 17) to approve the plans to build a four-bedroom house and garage at Rame Head.

However the decision to grant permission was against the recommendation of the council’s planning officers who said it should be refused as the development was unsuitable and went against planning policies.

Rame Head is the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and has a high level of protection to conserve its natural beauty. Any development in an AONB should complement and enhance the appearance and should not harm the area.

Cornwall’s AONB unit had lodged a strong objection to the plans saying they were not appropriate and would cause significant harm to the area.

But councillors chose to ignore the professional advice given to them and approved the plans on the grounds that the house was to be used by agricultural workers who help to maintain and manage land in the area. They voted seven to six in favour of approving the plans.

Cornwall Council has a policy which does allow for development in an AONB if it is for agricultural workers but some councillors who were against the plans said the design of the modern home was unsuitable for the site.

Now local campaigners against the development have launched a petition calling on the council to reverse the planning decision.

The petition about 900 signatures with an aim of getting 1,000 signatures.

After the application was first lodged more than 100 people wrote letters of objection and a Rame Head Defence Group was also set up by people who want to protect the site from development.

Tonny Steenhagen, from Millbrook, has written a letter of formal complaint to Cornwall Council about how the planning decision was made at Monday’s meeting.

He said he was dismayed to watch the meeting when it broadcast online on Monday and was critical of councillors from both Cornwall Council and Maker with Rame Parish Council.

Mr Steenhagen said they “both have failed miserably resulting in loss of reputation and respect”.

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He said: “At times I watched and listened in horror – some councillors appeared very opinionated (‘those AONB people’), others appeared ill-informed (no, there are no sheep to look after on Rame Head), misinformation was spread and irrelevant questions were asked.

“I also had the distinct impression that some councillors hadn’t read the paperwork and/or the nearly 200 public comments left on the planning website – which makes a complete mockery of the whole CC planning application process.”

At the meeting on Monday the vote had to be run twice after some councillors raised concerns that people were not aware of what they were voting for. In particular one councillor made comments saying he was concerned about the size, mass, design and use of multiple windows in the home but then voted in favour of approval.

Mr Steenhagen said: “The shambolic end of the meeting – councillors didn’t know if they were voting for or against the proposed development and/or the recommendation of their own case officer – left me with the impression I had at times been listening to an audio version of Dad’s Army, but without the humour.

“To be frank the Rame peninsula, Cornwall at large and, most importantly, the protection of the environment (remember we only have one of those) deserve a lot better.”

He concluded: “I am aware there is no formal appeal procedure, which in itself is questionable as it means that a handful of councillors are a complete law unto themselves. However, and in concluding, I would strongly urge you to reconsider this application.”

Cornwall Live