A major £170 million regeneration scheme for the centre of Truro has moved a step closer after outline planning permission was granted for the proposals.
Cornwall Council has put forward plans for the Pydar development which included 320 homes, 400 student bed spaces, a centre for Falmouth University along with a hotel and leisure facilities. Under the proposals 35 per cent of the homes built will be affordable.
The plans went before the council’s strategic planning committee for a second time today (September 23) after being refused earlier this year due to concerns about the size – and particularly height – of the development and loss of car parking spaces.
As a result the proposals have been reduced in scale and the council has said that a 118-space car park would be retained for at least three years.
The redevelopment takes in a site in the centre of Truro which includes the former Carrick District Council offices, Viaduct car park, Truro Bowl and several retail and warehouse units.
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Now that outline planning permission has been granted the council will draw up reserved matters applications which will cover the details and design of the project and will have to be approved before work can start.
During the committee meeting there were concerns expressed about the height of some of the buildings, some of which could be six storey.
Steven Webb, Mayor Truro, said that Truro City Council had supported the plans, adding: “We have been talking about Pydar for years now, probably about 30 years.
“We voted 14 to three in favour of the applications and anyone who knows Truro City Council will be aware that it is normally hard to get any consensus even on where a bench goes and what colour it is let alone something of this size.”
He said that the city council and public had been involved in the consultation process which found 80 per cent of people were in favour of the proposals.
He said: “The people of Truro want something done with that area. Everybody has a version of what is right for the area, everybody has a version of what is perfect and every one is different.”
Nigel Blackler from Cornwall Council, speaking as the applicant, said the development would have benefits for Truro from the construction stage to the completed scheme.
He said: “On the construction phase alone 1,500 people will be involved in this providing a major boost. It will have a resident population of 1,200 and 1,300 people will be working and studying on site once complete.”
He said that it would generate an extra £70m for Truro in the first 10 years.
On the consultation he said many said anything would be better than what is there now, adding: “I disagree, it is important that these plans are delivered right and to a very high standard.”
And he said the council would continue to work with the city council and the Cornwall design review panel to ensure that the final development is the best it can be.
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Truro councillor Rob Nolan was concerned that an influx of students into the city could put pressure on homes available in the area. He said there should be measures put in place that if anyone wants to convert their home for student use it would require planning permission.
Mr Blackler said the university centre would move facilities currently in Falmouth to Truro and would see a transfer of students, but this would be done in phases. He said the maximum number of students coming to Truro would be 750 and the first phase would see 200 students transferred before moving up to 400.
Mr Blackler also said not all those students would live in Truro or require homes as some would remain in Falmouth and some would already be living in Cornish towns.
There were some concerns about whether a community centre which is currently part of the proposals would be delivered. City councillors, Cornwall councillors in Truro and the Truro Business Improvement District (BID) all said this facility should be provided.
Mr Blackler said that while the applicants would be happy to provide a community centre it would have to be financially viable and be able to “look after itself”. He said there were also plans for a community centre being put forward by the Methodist Church which were part of the Truro Town Deal funding scheme and the council did not want to “undermine” that scheme.
Mr Blackler said the city council was working on whether the community centre should go forward and if there was demand for it.
He said: “We want to make sure it is the right facility, that it doesn’t undermine other projects and is financially viable.”
Cllr Nolan said he supported the application but there would be matters to be resolved at reserved matters stage.
He said: “It is not perfect, we have heard that several times today, it never will be.”
And he said he was assured that the applicant would work with stakeholders ahead of submitting final designs.
He added: “Last time this was refused there were voices in Cornwall Council saying ‘if Truro doesn’t want this we can spend the money somewhere else’ – we can’t have this site delayed for any more years.”
Councillors said they were still concerned about the size of the development, the proposed height of buildings and the shading that could occur across the site.
A proposal to grant outline planning permission was approved. Reserved matters applications will now be prepared and it is hoped that work on the development could start next year.
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