Notes and Queries

posted 9 Jun 2011, 08:33 by Cornish Buildings Group   [ updated 20 Jun 2015, 01:45 ]

June 2015
House of Commons: Written Statement (HCWS42) Department for Communities and Local Government
Written Statement made by: Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Greg Clark) on 18 Jun 2015.
I am today setting out new considerations to be applied to proposed wind energy development so that local people have the final say on wind farm applications, fulfilling the commitment made in the Conservative election manifesto. Subject to the transitional provision set out below, these considerations will take effect from 18 June and should be taken into account in planning decisions. I am also making a limited number of consequential changes to planning guidance.
When determining planning applications for wind energy development involving one or more wind turbines, local planning authorities should only grant planning permission if: the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan; and following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected l ocal communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing. In applying these new considerations, suitable areas for wind energy development will need to
have been allocated clearly in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan. Maps showing the wind resource as favourable to wind turbines, or similar, will not be sufficient. Whether a proposal has the backing of the affected local community is a planning judgement for the local planning authority.
Where a valid planning application for a wind energy development has already been submitted to a local planning authority and the development plan does not identify suitable sites, the following transitional provision applies. In such instances, local planning authorities can find the proposal acceptable if, following consultation, they are satisfied it has addressed the planning impacts i dentified by affected local communities and therefore has their backing.
November 2014

An ancient clapper bridge on Bodmin Moor which was in danger of being replaced by a modern wooden structure looks set to be fully restored after local campaigners and contractors reached a compromise.

As reported in the Western Morning News last month, Lantewey Bridge’s granite slabs that spanned the River Dewey between the parishes of St Neot and Warleggan for centuries, were swept away in last winter’s storms. Fearing a similar scenario in the future, Cornwall Council and its contractors Cormac decided, after surveying the site, that a replacement bridge would be a better option. However, the plan outraged local people, who launched a campaign to overturn the decision. Once a vital link for local families, farm workers, miners, quarrymen, pack horses and travellers, the old clapper bridge is today a popular designated footpath for local people and long-distance walkers. Believed to date from the 1300s, the threat to its future led to a flurry of online interest and protest across the world.

Lifelong resident John Keast said: “Following the excellent article in the Western Morning News, we have been inundated with worldwide support to restore the bridge.” David Coppin, of Utah in the USA, wrote in an email: “Although I live in the USA, my ancestors are from this location and my visits to Cornwall have focused on the history of my family who have lived and continue to live there. Things that happen there are of great interest and concern to me and it would be a tragedy if short-sighted ‘solutions’ to problems were to destroy the heritage shared by many. “Such actions would drive a trend that would ultimately result in a situation where there would be nothing to which sons of Cornwall could return. I hope that I and my descendants never have to face a time when we would have to say that our heritage is gone and Cornwall no longer exists except as a minor mention in the history books.”

Responding to public concern, Cormac held a series of discussions with local people earlier this month, resulting in a plan to restore Lantewey Bridge’s granite clappers, albeit with a hidden steel supporting framework to enable the span to be increased and allow an increased flow under it. Cormac will also be using a number of additional large granites to rebuild an abutment. They are being provided free by a local farmer in the parish, with Camel Valley & Bodmin Moor Protection Society offering to meet the costs of transporting the stones to the site. Warleggan Young Farmers’ Club have offered to help with the reconstruction. Cormac countryside officer, Dave Wood, who has been leading the negotiations, said: “We have met with St Neot Parish Council and local residents and discussed a few options which we are looking at through to a design stage. Everyone is really passionate about our local environment and coming together so that the footbridge will be a sustainable and resilient solution which also conserves the character of the local landscape.”

Mr Keast added: “Our forefathers raised this bridge hundreds of years ago and through their skill it has lasted until nowWe would like their legacy to last for hundreds more years. “As a small parish up on the Bodmin Moor, Warleggan has been overwhelmed by the support we have received from all directions since the report in the Western Morning News. “We are now looking forward to the reinstatement works starting next spring after the winter fish migration is over”.

August 2014


Members might be interested to look out for this at the weekend - Bernard Deacon's blog (as well as obtaining The Great Sale of Cornwall  - a worthwhile read for anyone concerned about the quantity of housing being forced upon our communities).


Incidentally,  Cllr John Pollard gave a ‘robust’ response to criticism from Chacewater Parish Council about the lack of note taken of locals in regard to planning matters. Circulated to every parish council in Cornwall to seek support (See Council branded a dictatorship –  he states that only 5% of decisions went against the local parishes wishes. Useful things statistics, when just one decision can allow 600 houses where they’re not wanted, one decision can permit a solar farm of several hectares, and one decision can permit a wind farm of 100 turbines ... or one decision can allow a bathroom extension or a tree lopping.

July 2014
Changes at Cornwall Council
Following the restructuring of Cornwall Council’s Environment Directorate a number of changes to the way in which we deliver the functions of the formerly integrated Historic Environment Service have been put in place. Strategic (policy, investment and information) and operational (contracting projects) functions have been separated and now sit in different areas of the Directorate, whilst archaeological planning advice and Conservation officer roles have been transferred to the planning development management team.

The projects team, formerly Historic Environment Projects, now sit within the Direct Services arm of the new Economy, Enterprise and Environment Directorate and from now on will be called Cornwall Archaeological Unit (CAU). We have been fortunate not to lose any posts during this process and will continue to operate in the future in the same way as in the past, delivering high quality projects for a range of clients. It should be stressed that the adoption of the word ‘archaeology’ into our name does not imply a move away from the wider historic environment projects towards those with a narrower archaeological focus. For further information about CAU contact Andrew Young, CAU Manager, via the contact details below.

The Strategic Historic Environment Service (SHES) now sits within the Strategic Environment group of the Directorate and is separately managed from CAU. It manages the Cornwall and Scilly Historic Environment Record, provides a policy and strategic lead to senior council officers and members on historic environment matters, manages innovative heritage led investment initiatives, and will be leading development of the ‘Cornwall Heritage Strategy’ in order to provide an overall action plan for the safeguarding of and investment in Cornwall’s historic assets. For further information about the SHES contact Dan Ratcliffe, Historic Environment Lead, via the contact details below. For specific HER enquiries please use which is resourced by the whole SHES team.

Requests for advice on the application of historic environment policies to development controlled by the local planning authority, including the discharge of conditions relating to heritage assets, are dealt with exclusively by the planning development management team. Enquiries should be directed to or by telephone to 0300 1234 151 in the first instance

In time our letterheads, and web addresses etc. will be updated to reflect these changes but this will not happen all at once and we will retain some of our current contact details, such as the email address during the early part of this transition process.

Please feel free to pass on this information to colleagues as you see fit.

Andrew Young, CAU Manager, Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Direct Services, Cornwall Council
Awards Extra
< Matt Robinson recieves a commendation from our Chairman, Paul Holden, for his timber framed house, Rosemerryn Cabin. 
Lilly Lewarne Practice recieving a commendaton for their work at the Headlands Hotel in Newquay. Our Chairman said 'the new entrance is a seamless insertion into the Victorian seaward facade'.>


< Ian Armstrong from Arco2 architects recieving a commendation for the supurb restoration of Restronguet Barton, three 17th century buildings connected by a new sedum roofed glazed corridor. The judges were fascinated by the restoration of the whim house.
 March 2014
Free lecture on Wednesday 26 March by Stephen Witherford of Witherford, Watson, Mann, winners of the 2013 Stirling Prize and will be held in the Main Hall at Helston Community College starting at 6.30pm.  (This is the 1970s building at the top of School Hill in Helston, not the old grammar school.  The hall is large and there is ample free parking). 


Stephen Witherford will give this lecture in the context of the current public consultation about Helston Town Centre Improvements.  Helston currently holds c £250,000 of money from Tesco and Sainsburys which must be spent on ‘physical improvements in the public areas of the town centre’ before the end of 2018.  The Council has engaged a Regeneration Officer and hopes to boost this fund by securing grants and investment from other external sources.  The money can only be spent in Helston’s historic town centre, which is a Conservation Area.

Stephen Witherford BA Dip Arch RIBA,
 is the founding director of Witherford Watson Mann Architects, with Christopher Watson and William Mann. The practice was established in 2001 and has focused on exploring the spatial and social relationships between public buildings, public spaces and public housing through a series of built designs, masterplans, urban frameworks, exhibitions and articles. In 2005 the practice completed Amnesty International UK’s headquarters. They followed this with their internationally acclaimed Bankside Urban Forest public realm framework, which sought to make better use of small spaces in the dense urban fabric of south London to enhance public enjoyment of open space. They have since been commissioned to design the Legacy Masterplan Framework for the Olympic Park.  In 2013 their commission to design a contemporary house for the Landmark Trust within the medieval ruins of Astley Castle won the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize.

Stephen is a member of the London Mayor’s Design Advisory Panel and he British School in Rome’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and is a Design Council/CABE Built Environment Expert and RIBA Competitions Architectural Advisor. He was a Visiting Fellow in Urban Design at the London School of Economics Cities Programme.

October 2013
Chairman to speak at Friends of Pendower AGM Read
Plea to Save Front Building of Foster Complex Read
Report on historic envirnonment now avaialable from Cornwall Council  Historic Cornwall Advisory Group Report
Awards Extra
   Presentation of this year's Cornish Buildings Group Awards.  
     Main Award (left) Long and Kentish for Portmeor Fishermen's Cellars and Studios
    Commendation for Mr Fortescue's amazing restoration of Boconnoc House, near Lostwithiel.
  Commendation for the Cornwall Buildings Preservation Trust and Duchy Palace, Lostwithiel.
Just goes to show that you can't please everyone! Two clippings from West Briton (May 2013)
Our Awards display will travel libraries in Cornwall throughout 2013 and 2014. Please catch it at
June, Truro.
July, Wadebridge.
August, Bude.
September, Launceston.
October, Saltash.
November, Torpoint.
December, St Austell.
January, Falmouth.
February, Helston.
March, Penzance.
April, St Ives.
2013 Annual General Meeteing, Poundstock Gildhouse
Our 2013 AGM at Poundst
ock Gildhouse (left) attracted some 60 members of the Cornish Buildings Group. Council member Terry Knight said that this was the largest turn-out to an AGM for some years. Paul Holden, Chairman, added 'It's always so good to catch up with members old and new at these events'. After lunch in the upper chamber of the Gildhouse our hosts Sandy and Tim Dingle, along with Council member Dr Jo Mattingly, gave us excellent guided tours of the award winning 14th-century Gildhouse and nearby church. The Western Morning News reported
'A total of 1,200 buildings of historic and architectural importance in Cornwall are in danger of decay through neglect and
 indifference, according to the Cornish Buildings Group. Its chairman Paul Holden told more than 60 members at the AGM
 that the buildings were on a list that needed urgent protection so they could be saved for posterity. They included the Old Fire Station at Redruth, which, he said: “is just falling down”, and Foster Hall at Bodmin Hospital, which was not covered by statutory protection and was threatened with demolition.
Mr Holden appealed for volunteers to survey Grade 2 Listed buildings and spoke of the work done by Cornwall Buildings Group in conjunction with
other partner organisations in Cornwall, identifying Falmouth Civic Trust for its work on the Old Customs House in the town, which has been left empty.  He said the group continued to champion design through its Awards Scheme, recognising excellence, which was a very important part of its work, as well as putting forward buildings and structures for official listing, and running a bursary scheme. “We can do more and we are asking the membership to become more involved. We need to know about your concerns and get feed-back from you so we can work together,” he said'.
The AGM was held in the Poundstock Gildhouse,a medieval building that has been extensively restored and last year won an international award. After the meeting the members toured the Gildhouse and the neighbouring parish church. All existing officers were re-elected.
General News
CBG concerned over amount of listed buildings currently in the care of Cornwall Council which may be considered for sale. CBG chairman has sought guidance from Cornwall Council. We will keep you posted. 

A new book has been published on the history of Trewinnard near St Erth. Trewinnard is renowned for its association with the Mohun and Hawkins families and is today cared for by Sir John and Lady Nott. The book is introduced by Sir John Nott and is published by Pasticcio Books. More
Very useful guidance 'Understanding Place: character and context in local planning' can be downloaded from More

Piloti view of the Old Rectory, St Columb (August 2011) View Download

Two hundred years since the death of John Knill - a monument In St Ives celebratedMore  
'Invitation to View' a brand new intitiative that allows group access to some of the south-west's finest country houses. Cornish tresaures include Boconnoc, Bosvathick, Caerhays castle, Pentille castle, Port Eliot, Scorrier house and Trereife house.  More  

A history of Trevithick Barton More


Join in

posted 7 Jun 2011, 08:20 by Cornish Buildings Group   [ updated 28 Jan 2014, 12:45 ]

The Cornish Buildings Group occupies a unique place in the county. Despite our members having a great diversity of backgrounds, we all share a common interest in the built environment, both modern and historical. As a council we recognise the need for engagement hence over the past year we have been developing the Cornish Buildings Group website.
The aim of the website is to reach out to our existing membership and encourage new recruits through better promotion of our activities in particular events, creating an interest in specific fields of architecture, raising the profile of the award scheme and making available our printed material.
The website provides an opportunity for your involvement in the group’s activities. Writing a report on one of the group visits, is just one way of getting involved. Perhaps, a review on a new, or old, book on Cornish buildings, recommend sites for group visits or suggest a new building, a worthy restoration or development for our annual award scheme. Why not send in a research paper on an aspect of Cornish architectural history or encourage a friend to look at the website, who knows they too may like to join in. Perhaps you may just like to use the website to keep up with the group’s news and events.
The site can be found at and it can develop in any way we choose. So please don’t be backwards in coming forward ─ suggest what you would like to see on the site, after all it is yours and we would welcome any suggestions. See the contacts page on the website for where to send your contributions. We look forward to hearing from you.


Paul Holden (Chairman)            


posted 3 Jun 2011, 10:20 by Cornish Buildings Group   [ updated 18 Sep 2015, 13:08 ]

September 2015 

A Case for Cornwall, our concerns and Cornwall Council response. 

Dear Cllr Pollard

The Cornish Buildings Group is encouraged to learn from the Case for Cornwall Summary that the Council proposes 'more local control in protecting historic buildings'.

However, within the Case for Cornwall we see a contradiction to this. In seeking to transfer Historic England (English Heritage) powers and resources to provide greater local control over heritage assets CC wants to explore opportunities to increase local powers and resources to address anomalies in defining heritage significance, streamlining planning processes and maximise opportunities to integrate heritage into social and economic regeneration.

The Council’s Duty under the Act is to have special regard to the desirability of preserving listed buildings, their settings and any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses and to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character and appearance of Conservation Areas.

In a recent Freedom of Information request Cornwall Council confirmed an 80% reduction in obtaining professional conservation advice from its own Historic Environment Section since its 2012 Historic Environment White Paper. In many cases the conservation expertise on development proposals in the county relies solely on Historic England comment.

The Group shares with Historic England concerns over the severely diminished conservation resources at Cornwall Council as well as the number of consultations on development proposals in Cornwall which fails to obtain conservation professional involvement.

Cornwall has the largest number of statutorily protected Heritage Assets of any Unitary Council area. Heritage is one of the South West’s Major economic assets. Historic England provides the national overview. It promotes a positive well-informed approach to conservation by helping people understand their historic environment and using that understanding to manage change. They support innovative schemes that protect and enhance the significance of buildings and historic places and work collaboratively with owners, architects and developers to help them develop proposals for creative uses of historic places.

The Group strongly supports more protection of Cornwall’s historic environment with responsible management of change, good stewardship and encouragement of, and support for, sustainable heritage-led urban and rural regeneration, based on high quality design that reinforces local character.

We would ask therefore of the Case for Cornwall what benefit Cornwall Council considers there would be to dispose of Historic England, the organisation dedicated to championing heritage in the County?

Sincerely, Paul Holden, FSA, Chairman

Dear Mr Holden 

Thank you for your email. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding [6 weeks].

The ‘Case for Cornwall’ includes the Council’s long term ambitions for our stewardship of historic assets. Our ambition is to increase powers and resources available locally to “invest in and protect Cornwall’s heritage and promote cultural devolution”. To do this the Case (published in full at ) states that the council wishes to “explore devolution options” including devolution from the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (more commonly known as Historic England and English Heritage) to “an independent heritage body for Cornwall”. The Case document proposed two models to government. These included the devolution of all powers to a new ‘Historic Cornwall’ body, and a less radical model where by a localised branch of Historic England – Historic England (Cornwall) was set up to ensure more local input into the operation of Historic England roles. We do not seek to ‘dispose of Historic England’, an organisation which has funded a very great deal of investment into Cornwall’s historic environment and plays an invaluable role in designating and managing our historic assets, but instead want to devolve its skills, resources and functions so that they can take account more appropriately of the significance of heritage assets at a local, rather than national ‘English’ level. Central to our ‘Case’ are that current safeguards for designated historic assets must not be reduced; indeed we think that through consolidating skills and resources within one independent and localised organisations that these safeguards could become more effective directed from an organisation whose primary focus (unlike both Cornwall Council or Historic England) would be to champion the cultural distinctiveness of Cornwall.

The ‘Deal’ document is seen by the Council as a first step in our long journey towards greater devolution for Cornwall. The Government has formally recognised our “rich and unique heritage” and that “cultural distinctiveness is an important factor in Cornwall’s local economy”. The deal strengthens a longstanding and very close working relationship between the Council and Historic England which continues to strengthen and develop. I very much value this partnership and all it brings to the Council and the celebration, protection and enhancement of Cornwall’s historic assets. As a result of the Deal agreement we will be working together on the establishment of a “Cornwall Historic Environment Forum” which will “develop [the vision of local heritage partners] for heritage at a more local level” and both Cornwall Council and Historic England will “jointly produce a study of the cultural distinctiveness of the Cornish historic environment”. Our officers are currently developing an action plan to progress these objectives and the wider aspirations of the Case for Cornwall and I shall ask our Historic Environment Lead to report on this to the Heritage Kernow stakeholder group at its next meeting in September.

Oll an gwella, 
Yours sincerely, John Pollard, Leader of the Council

August 2015
PA15/06567 Proposed Development on the waterfront at Falmouth

We strongly object to the above proposed development. There are so many reasons why this is an inappropriate site for any building proposal. However, the CBG has a particular remit to protect historic buildings and their setting and the arguments for recommending refusal must concentrate on its particular area of interest and expertise. 

It is the group’s view that the proposed development would be very harmful to the setting of an important group of historic buildings in this part of Falmouth. In Grove Place there is Arwenack Manor and Arwenack House plus the Killigrew Monument and the fine planned terrace of Nos. 1-7 Grove Place, all of which are listed buildings. The area of Grove Place is also one of the most important parts of the Falmouth Conservation Area and adjoins Arwenack Street with a further important group of historic buildings, the setting of which the most significant of these would also be harmed.

Arwenack Manor and Arwenack House (listed grade II*) were built as a great house for the Killigrew family, who became the founding family for Falmouth itself. There has been a house on this site since at least 1385 but the present house was mostly rebuilt in the sixteenth century. The history of the house is also the history of the incorporation of the town of Falmouth. It is also the oldest and most architecturally interesting building in the town.

 Like so many of our earlier historic buildings Arwenack has known its ups and downs but has somehow miraculously survived. It was occupied and damaged by Parliamentarian forces during the civil war when Pendennis Castle was besieged. More recently, following a period of neglect, the Manor part was seriously damaged by fire but thankfully the whole house was subsequently rescued and in 1978 it was expertly restored by the notable builders, Percy Williams and Sons of Redruth when it became divided into two discrete address elements of ‘Manor’ and ‘House’ but still retaining the visual impression of a single entity.

 Arwenack is therefore a very precious asset to Falmouth and its architectural integrity must be preserved. This includes its setting. Until the early twentieth century Arwenack House once stood at the waterfront as did the whole of Grove Place with only a carriageway width between Grove Place and the harbour front. Since then there has been successive infilling to extend the area on what was once tidal harbour area including a former tide mill.

When the Falmouth Maritime Museum was built there was great debate about how sight lines to Arwenack could be preserved from Falmouth Harbour to Arwenack so as to retain its prominence as the principal element of the town. Since then there has been further development, resulting in ‘Events Square’. Whilst the construction of these buildings have been justified by extraordinary circumstances and now fulfil laudable community functions they have also been kept well back from Arwenack House and Grove Place leaving sufficient space for Arwenack House and Grove Place to ‘breathe’. The proposed development is far too close, far too large in scale and is totally unacceptable in this location. Now is the time to say ‘enough is enough’! The proposed development would dominate the area in front of Arwenack House and would be a visual blight to its existence. Arguably, it would also have a serious effect on its sustainability.

The government guidance for new buildings in conservation areas demands that they offer enhancement to the character of the area. Even if the design of the proposal was a ‘landmark’ design it would be wrong in this context. It would visually overwhelm Arwenack House, and destroy most of what remains of its setting. It would also have a damaging effect on the historical context of Grove Place and much of Arwenack Street.

Because of the reasons presented above the CBG considers that proposal site is unsuitable for any building of any scale and of any design and this application should be refused without hesitation.

Why was Tremorvah House Demolished?

Our Historic Environment Strategy Lead Officer, Dan Ratcliffe, tells the Cornish Buildings Group why.

'In line with our statutory duties set out in the Planning Act 1990 (s 69, s 71) the boundary and the special interest of the Truro Conservation Area was appraised and reviewed and a management plan developed between 2005-2010, initially by the Conservation Section of Carrick District Council and latterly by the Historic Environment Service. The initial detailed appraisal work was undertaken on Carrick DC’s behalf by the then CCC Historic Environment Service (HES) in 2005, with a Management Plan subsequently developed in 2010 by Alan Baxter Associates (ABA). This process reviewed and amended the boundary of the Conservation Area, the management plan and revised boundary being adopted in March 2010. When a Council considers the designation of Conservation Areas it is of course careful only to include those areas that can clearly demonstrate the required special interest so as not to dilute the overall value of such designations.

The area referred to (between the Catholic church and Parklands) includes 4 of 16 character areas that were identified by the HES appraisal as potential extensions to the Conservation Area, and these were later formally assessed for their suitability by the ABA work. Agar Road, which also lies within this area, was already a part of the Conservation Area. Of these 4 areas, only the area lying between St Austell Road, Mitchell Road, Agar Road and Tregolls Road (containing the Catholic church) was felt to demonstrate sufficient special interest, and being already surrounded on three sides by the Conservation Area this was felt to be a logical extension. Demolition of buildings within this area now require planning permission and as part of the Conservation Area the area is subject to the policies for ‘designated heritage assets’ within the NPPF.

The remaining three areas considered consist of the informal grounds of the demolished Tregolls House [8], the housing (and the now demolished Brooklands Hotel) along the south east side of Tregolls Road [9], and the land represented by the historic curtilages of Alverton and Tremorvah [10]. These areas were not recommended by ABA for designation. The ABA Management Plan gives the following reasons for non-designation of these three areas. In general the conclusion seems to have been that the enlargement of Tregolls Road and the infill development around Alverton and Tremorvah had already unfortunately eroded and disrupted the overall coherence of the area.

“[8] Because of the dual carriageway in Tregolls Road this proposed extension would not form a coherent part of the Conservation Area. Any proposed development in this area would be assessed for its impact on the setting of the Conservation Area.
[9] Some historically interesting individual houses, but like [8] too cut off from the Conservation Area.
[10] The two houses are interesting but the adjoining development in the area, and the frontage to Tregolls Road, means that this area has little consistent overall character.”

The decision by the council not to designate these areas means of course that (with the exception of Alverton and its curtilage structures which are Listed GII*) LPA consent is not required for demolition of buildings within it, although notably the Management Plan did identify some interest in all of these areas which means they can be treated as ‘non-designated heritage assets’ as defined by the NPPF.

In general terms in the event that demolition of non-designated heritage assets in the area formed part of an application for planning permission then the approach set out in the NPPF (Chapter 12) would apply. The significance of those assets and the degree of harm would be material considerations in coming to a balanced judgement regarding the determination of those applications. P128 of the Framework would indicate that such applications should be informed by proportionate assessments of the significance of assets affected, and demonstrate consultation of the Historic Environment Record (HER). Documents within the HER making reference to the character and significance of features within this area include the Conservation Area Appraisal, the Management Plan and the Urban Survey for Truro.

We are of course statutorily required to have ‘special regard’ to the setting of the GII* Alverton'.

Should anyone require any further information or clarification, Mr. Ratcliffe can be contacted via email at

Owner evicted from Falmouth's historic Marlborough House  First published in Falmouth Packet Friday 5 December 2014 in News

Marlborough House was built in 1810 for John Bull, a Packet service captain, who named the building after his ship the Duke of Marlborough. It is a grade II* listed, three storey country house, which features a relief of the ship in a central bay on the front of the building. Bull's ship engaged in action while out on service, including one occasion when it was mistaken for an enemy off Cape Finisterre and battled HMS Primrose, which came off worse despite outmanning and outgunning the Packet vessel, and the captain was awarded a ceremonial sword for his bravery.

One of Falmouth’s most iconic buildings, which has fallen into disrepair, was visited by bailiffs on Tuesday for an eviction to be carried out.

Stephen Barrett, who has owned Marlborough House in Silverdale Road for the last ten years, was not present when locksmiths, accompanied by police officers and representatives of Savills estate agents, cut the chain on the gates of the Georgian property.

The bailiffs were at the gates of the house some time before 11am to enforce a warrant issued by Truro County Court on November 19 on behalf of the Bank of Scotland. A notice posted on the gates of Marlborough House stated that as England is a common law jurisdiction, the owner had removed any implied right of access to the property. The notice also stated that he would charge anyone entering the property according to what he sees as his common law rights – an observation which did not stop the bailiffs or police.

Concerns had been raised regarding Mr Barrett’s possession of Marlborough House after the building had started to noticeably decay, with local residents and the Cornish Buildings Group noting that the front porch was falling down and the gardens had been left to grow wild.

Paul Holden, chairman of the Cornish Buildings Group, said: “Some members have spoken to me about their concern for Marlborough House, and the way the property is beginning to look run down. It’s one of our most important Grade II* listed buildings in Cornwall, and the heritage value is so important.”

Local residents, who did not wish to be named, said: “Marlborough House is one of the most significant houses in Falmouth. The owner had been planning to restore it to its original splendour, but nothing could be further from the truth. The front porch is falling down. The front has been paint when in fact it should be pink like all the other properties around here.”

Mr Holden added that he felt although people had raised concerns about the house, he felt they did not “want to stick their head above the parapet.” 

Nina Paternoster, senior development officer at Cornwall Council, which is responsible for listed buildings in Cornwall, said: “The council is aware of the concerns expressed by residents and local amenity groups and have been monitoring the site. Should there be any change in the condition of the building, further investigations may be undertaken by the council’s Planning Enforcement Service.”

An agent from Savills was on hand on Tuesday morning to carry out an evaluation, saying the company will be selling the property on behalf of the bank in the near future. Eversheds solicitors, who acted on behalf of the Bank of Scotland in carrying out the eviction, said it was “not in any position to disclose any information” on why Mr Barrett was evicted. Mr Barrett could not be contacted for comment.


Two updates on our August 2014 casework
Market House, Penzance, heritage statement for listed building consent for roof works View
Cornwall Council refuse permission to demolish historic railway bridge View
St Erth Railway Station

The latest proposals for planning permission to replace St Erth Station foot bridge appears a further crass and unsubtle attempt, quite unacceptable within an important and (so-far) unsploit group of Listed buildings of the late 19th century. The Cornish Buildings Group like the Parish Council and English Heritage are far from happy with the proposals. Following the refusal of an earlier attempt, with 200 yards of ramps and landings zigzagging up to a new bridge and obliterating a prominent area of trees, the second attempt shows the continuing inability of Network Rail to respect the Listed Building status of the group which comprises an historically significant and charming station. Its rarity and its importance is widely recognised nationally (see quotes below).

The Listing process is designed to preserve buildings which are of historic or architectural value and scarcity and any replacements within their area must be of an equal quality. The present attempt – with lift towers (looking like a standard design for suburban commuter 'platforms' ) is not suitable for this site. The two towers, nearly 35' high, with a squashed pyramid hat and plastic weatherboarding, are not an acceptable solution here.

The problem remains that the site is not suitable as a major Traffic Interchange and blame for this must rest with decisions by the late lamented District Council. Once it became known that Network Rail would not permit a heliport alongside a main railway, only moving St Ives Park-and-Ride to the site would justify continuation of the whole Traffic Interchange concept. The opportunity for Cornwall Council to reassess the suitability of the site was lost. Time and money have now gone on two aborted schemes essentially to provide more car parking, despite the problem of site levels and disabled access remaining to be resolved.

Network Rail can't make up their minds – and certainly have not fully explored alternative solutions; in 2013 it was not possible to provide lifts so we had the 'endless ramp' scheme, yet a year later lifts have been put forward as THE solution! The time has come to decide: either look for a suitable site elsewhere or find an acceptable solution for good 'new-build' to set amongst the Listed buildings on the site.
Is the narrow bridge under the line sufficient for summer traffic to the park and ride – with additional pedestrians on the narrow pavement- although apparently a widened bridge is not possible (this year, at any rate).

Network Rail claim with the existing bridge train clearance are insufficient for electrification – although we await the date for this to be announced. Surely it is unusual to start 'preliminary work', on a major project before funding, a programme or even any commitment has been announced, especially when destroying a Listed structure. When will rebuilding start on all the other road bridges in Devon and Cornwall?

Submitted drawing 000034 however states, in relation to possible glazing-in of the bridge, “should future electrification occur”.

All these problems could be avoided following installation of the new signalling system (which is now funded and approved) by taking all trains onto the up line platform as is done, for instance, in Switzerland. With the present car park to be extended, provision of reserved disabled spaces would then provide direct level access for all trains both on the mainline and on the St Ives branch.

If lift towers are required why not reduce their height by using hydraulic lifts or underground plant rooms?

There seems to be a general inability by Network Rail's consultants to look at non-standard solutions, but this is the only way an acceptable solution can be found for a unique Listed site; we have seen two unacceptable attempts that have delayed the project and increased costs, not least the professional fees for abortive work that never justified more than a first sketch, let alone their development to a full planning application.

Should all alternatives be ruled out for JUSTIFIED reasons (not simply for the convenience of Network Rail) the existing scheme needs a totally different approach. Any new structure, if required, should be considered worthy of Listing Building status in its own right at some point in the future. A light totally glazed bridge and towers is one alternative some would favour, being a complete contrast to the 19th century buildings which would intrude less than solid towers and would avoid being mistaken for an integral part of the original station. A poor pastiche solution, slightly-vernacular, slightly-Cornish, as is now being considered by the Council is not acceptable; an interesting new approach with some excitement and not just the standard – with a bit of granite to appease any Cornish opposition.

The Cornish Building Group objects to the application and would urge Cornwall Council to refuse this latest attempt and urge Network Rail to appoint a new team experienced in working on Listed Buildings AND able to look at radically different approaches as well as providing good modern architecture should a 'new-build' solution be unavoidable.

John Stengelhofen, AADipl.
Vice-Chairman, Cornish Buildings Group

'St Erth Station . . . constitutes a rare survival of a complete station'. Beacham & Pevsner: The Buildings of England: Cornwall (Yale University Press, 2014) p.538

'Today it is one of the last country junction stations, typical of what was once commonplace...the station has remained unchanged, retaining all its period charm'. Gordon Biddle: Britain's Historic Railway Buildings (Oxford University Press, 2003) p.140
Wind turbine

PA14/04562 Erection of single 77m wind turbine at Graymare Farm, Lostwithiel. Planning application has now been validated and can be found here.

The Cornish Buildings Group do not usually comment on wind turbine applications however we consider it is right to comment when the proposal adversely affects landscape settings and creates a negative impact on the siting of historic buildings. In the case of PA14/04562 Greymare Farm, Grey Mare Hill, Lostwithiel, we would like to object to the siting of a single wind turbine because of the substantial harm it would inflict on designated heritage assets. Our concern is that the wind turbine will be situated in a prominent position above the Glynn Valley overlooking, 9 grade 1 listed, 17 grade 2* and 205 grade 2, buildings within a 5kms radius. Furthermore, 36 scheduled ancient monuments, 2 registered parks and gardens and 2 registered battlefield sites are within 5km of site. It is our view that the erection of a turbine in this location will do substantial harm to significant number of designated heritage assets of the highest importance significance. We feel that the setting of historic buildings in their landscape is important, both in presentation and interpretation of the overall site. This proposed turbine therefore will be overly dominating on surrounding historic assets and consequently will act in detriment of the historic landscape. It is our opinion that no single structure or modern intervention should affect 271 listed and registered designated heritage assets in the locality.

John Stenglehofen, Vice Chairman, Cornish Buildings Group


April 2014 Concerns raised 

Marlborough House, Falmouth. 

Some months ago we expressed a concern  about the plight of the Grade 2 Marlborough House in Falmouth. We are forced once again to express our concern based around its ever deteriorating state. The photograph shows that the porch has been severely damaged over the course of this winter. We are very aware and worried about the condition of the delicate and important interiors in this exceptional building.

In previous correspondence we have been told that the building was not in a sufficiently bad state for an Enforcement notice to be put upon 
it. We do hope Cornwall Council will reassess their position based on this evidence and pressure from Falmouth Civic Trust, SAVE and Georgian Group. 

(site adjoining ) Hayman House, Redruth

We have long been concerned about the state of 4 Penryn Street, Redruth, currently a vacant site formerly containing fire damaged listed buildings at the junction of Penryn Street and Station Hill.  Negotiations have been ongoing for some time with the owners of the fire damaged site which has outline planning consent.  Final design on the site has still to be resolved but the current approach has been to rebuild a good frontage to Penryn Street based on the former listed building and with two ground floor shops. Cornwall Council are currently exploring whether a local Housing Association would be interested in developing the site. 

We have long stressed that the condition of the adjoining building (No 4 Penryn Street) is deteriorating and if left any longer could become seriously at risk. The case is currently with Cornwall Council Enforcement.  

Poor Service from Cornwall Council 

We have raised a concern with Cllr Edwina Hannaford (Portfolio holder for Environment, Heritage and Planning) over the service that Cornwall Council give over matters of enforcement and general enquiry relative to the built environment.

In March 2014 the Cornish Buildings Group made three specific requests to Cornwall Council

1. 9 March 2014 Email regarding information on properties adjoining Hayman House in Redruth. No acknowledgement or response has been received.

2. 14 March 2014. Email regarding failed protection on the Lamb and Flag Smelting Works. Message returned informing us that it would be passed onto a Conservation Officer. It has not been passed on.

3. 15 March 2014. Email to Enforcement regarding St Peter's Church, Mithians, and its poor condition. Standard 13 week response reply, no feedback since.

4.October 2013 our Chairman met with Cllr John Pollard regarding the plight of St Columb Rectory. After a productive meeting we were promised that we would be kept in the loop about progress on this case of Cornwall Council's neglect of this Grade 2* listed heritage asset. Apart from one message that we instigated we have heard nothing.

Our Group feel that the service being provided by Cornwall in respect to our enquiries is quite shocking. We feel that Cornwall Council are neglecting in their duty to protect our built environment.

Market House, Penzance 

We are concerned about the state of the Market House building, Market Jew Street, Penzance. The major portion including the basement lies derelict and has done so for some years. We are concerned that

1. Despite the building being cleaned in 2011 the surface of the granite is showing signs of algenous growth and vegetation is emerging from the pointing between the granite blocks.

2. There are probable damp problems in the basement, it has been boarded up for so long.

3. Plaster
 is falling from within and the interiors are becoming ruinous.

4. The building appears to be in a neglected state

We have asked Cornwall Council Enforcement and a conservation officer to get together to look at this important building in Penzance. 

Campaign to save Jubilee Pool, Penzance. link to Cornishman
Wheal Busy, Chacewater  
Pendean House, Liskeard
The Council of the Cornish Buildings Group are very much against the removal of this building and consider it a fine piece of villa style architecture (1849) by Henry Rice of Liskeard.Our group are quite astonished at the apparent blindness towards re-use particularly in this age of sustainability, a trait so obvious in the demolition of the Foster Complex in Bodmin.  

Marlborough House, Falmouth

We are currently raising concerns over Marlborough House in Falmouth (below). Marlborough House was built in 1810 by Captain John Bull of 
the Falmouth Packet service; he named his house after his Packet ship, the Duke of Marlborough. In recent months the house has become abandoned and in a poor condition. Mr Mason from Cornwall Council enforcement team has responded to our enquiry 'Following a recent site visit I can confirm that the the Listed Building known as Marlborough House is not currently at risk. It has been inspected externally and the historic fabric of the building appears to be largely intact'.

Council for British Archaeology

The Cornish Buildings Group have joined forces with the CBA to protect Cornish heritage. The CBA has a statutory duty to comment on listed buildings where applications have been filed for demolition or partial demolition. We will work together to identify such buildings and make representations, where appropriate, back into the planning system. For more see

St Erth Railway Station Read More

This application has been under consideration since at least 2011 and has now, at least for the timebeing been rejected. The scheme involves loosing the listed foot bridge was probably built around 1881 and replacing it with an extremely poor pastiche with ramp arms flying in all directions. If Network Rail  get their way it is inevitable similar bridges throughout the county’s stations will be under threat.

Much of our casework has been archived. Please press link to access more detail.
Foster Complex, Bodmin  
Our fight to save the Foster Complex Read about our campaign
The last days of the Foster Complex  View picture gallery
BBC News Website Read news
Foster Complex mentioned in the House of Lords Read more
Examining Mental Illness in Bodmin Read blog
Foster Hall Revival Trust Read brochure
Buildings at Risk
We aim to champion the plight of Cornish buildings at risk. Some cases
St Columb Rectory
Cornish Rectory on Top Ten Endangered Buildings List  From Western Morning News
Other cases and casework archive






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