LATEST PRESS RELEASE
NO STATUTORY PROTECTION FOR ST AUSTELL RAILWAY STATION
The Cornish Buildings Group is very concerned to learn of the delisting of St Austell railway station despite an online petition and an objection from the parish council. The station had been recognised since 1996 as a grade II listed heritage asset of special architectural interest. It also sits within the St Austell Conservation Area.
The station was opened on 4 May 1859 as part of the Cornwall Railway. The riveted iron lattice footbridge is dated 1882 and has the Great Western Railway monogram in the spandrels and is supported by pairs of cast-iron columns with enriched bases and capitals. Along with St Erth and Redruth, this was one of three listed station footbridges in Cornwall. Network Rail has already applied without success to demolish two of these, St Austell and St Erth, something the Group has monitored for some time now and remain concerned on their declining condition.
Paul Holden, Chairman of the Cornish Buildings Group, said ‘This is a very disappointing decision and will undoubtedly create some vulnerability for both the bridge and the red brick signal box (c. 1899, closed in 1980), which we feel is every bit as good as the listed example in Par. Also at risk are good period railway buildings and canopies, an Edwardian upside station building, granite platforms, Great Western Railway railings, retaining walls and cobbled surfacing’.
The Group feel that St Austell was an important and iconic part of Cornwall's railway heritage.
Mr Holden added ‘The station has lost its character over time, the historic downside station building was replaced some years back with a modern ticket office, waiting area, café and toilets with a loss of historic interiors, while a poorly designed and nationally unpopular Network Rail ‘standard’ lift bridge, has rendered the old crossing redundant. We feel that this decision reflects on the poor design standards applied by our local planning authority who have failed to listen to local voices and internal advice for many years regarding the state of this heritage asset’.
The plight of St Austell railway station is echoed by the Group’s concerns for the condition of a wider range of heritage assets including Polvellan Manor near Looe, Charlestown Chapel, the North-Light building at Tuckingmill used for cotton weaving in the safety-fuse factory, the Old Fire Station at Redruth and Wheal Busy on the Tregothnan Estate. The Group maintains its own heritage at risk register which can be seen on its website. https://sites.google.com/site/cornishbuildingsgroup/
The case of Lovering's Dry, Charlestown.
The Cornish Buildings Group have been looking into looking into the demolition of this historic building. While we see that it is not in the public interest to re-erect the non-listed building it must be stressed that the demolition of an unlisted building in a conservation area without having obtained consent is a criminal offence with the same considerations generally apply as to proceedings under section 9(1) of the Act in connection with listed buildings
We wrote to Cornwall Council on 8/8/2017 to express concerns over the unauthorized demolition of an important building in a conservation area and asked the questions why was conservation area consent not required?
As we understand it, the law states that the offences under section 9(1) and section 9(2) as applied to unlisted buildings in conservation areas carry the same maximum penalties as the corresponding listed building offence hence under section 9(4) a person who is guilty of an offence shall be liable to 'a summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both; or on conviction on indictment for a term not exceeding twelve months or a fine or both'.
Here is Cornwall Council's reply dated 6/11/2017
Dear Mr Holden
I can confirm that we have fully investigated this matter and we have reached a decision. The investigation involved a full and thorough review of the site history from the Council’s historic records, a full site inspection with the Conservation Officer to assess the remaining elements of the building on site, information supplied by the parish council and complainants, and the response to an Interview Under Caution from the landowner’s solicitor. We have discussed the matter at length with our legal department.
The clay dry is not listed and therefore the legal protection provided for listed buildings does not apply in this instance. Therefore, we have to assess whether the works require planning permission. Planning permission is only required for relevant demolition and what constitutes relevant demolition for these purposes has been decided by the courts in a case known as Shimizu. The Shimizu case confirmed that demolition means the removal of the whole (or substantially the whole) of the building, not just part of it; the facts of each case being assessed on its own merits. The starting point therefore is to consider whether the whole building has been demolished, or only part of it.
The building is considered to be the chimney stack, the dry, the linhay and the perimeter walls of the site (around the settling tanks) surrounding the entire dry. This is because of their functional link when the dry would have been operation.
As you know, a certain proportion of the works were carried out in 2005 and the former Restormel Borough Council accepted that this was for health and safety purposes. If the remaining elements of the building at that time were considered to be of such great importance the option existed to pursue listing the building. The former Borough Council did suggest the site for listing back in 2005 but the English Heritage Inspector decided not to list the building at that time; I understand that the visit took place after the fire in the building.
Given the extent of the building that remains and having carefully considered this matter and sought legal advice, it is considered that the whole building has not been demolished. Whilst demolition has occurred and could be considered to be large sections of walls, it is still within the perimeters of partial demolition, which means that the matter does not constitute a breach of planning control. An analogy could be drawn with placing weights on a set of scales; at some point the balance would tip into the realm of relevant demolition for which permission would be required. However, we are not at that point at the moment.
I trust that the information above outlines the Council’s position with regards to this matter, therefore, I can confirm that our file on the matter will now be closed.
Donna Paull, Development Officer
The White Hart, Hayle
Hayle which was an important town during the 19th century based on its sheltered harbour and two major industrial enterprises, both iron foundries, both soon achieving international reputations. The larger of these was in the western part of Hayle, an area known locally as Foundry. John Harvey, a blacksmith in nearby Gwinear, set this up in 1779. Following his death in 1803 his son Henry expanded the Foundry greatly and later saw the advantages of a small Hotel to provide hospitality for potential customers travelling to this most remote part of England. This resulted in the White Hart being built in 1824, but the speed of expansion in their business soon called for a grander and somewhat more luxurious hotel. This was opened on an adjoining plot at the centre of Foundry in 1838, again taking the name White Hart. The earlier building was then rented out to solicitors until 1869 when the Masonic Lodge moved in, having met in the new White Hart since it was built; having purchased the building from the Harveys in 1922, they still continue to meet in the old White Hart.
These two virtually unaltered and complete adjoining buildings at the centre of Foundry illustrate the rapid expansion of the Harveys business over a short period of less than 15 years. This was the basis of the company’s international reputation for supplying pumping engines that included the world’s largest cast cylinder, 12’ (3.66m) diameter as part of a massive beam engine for land reclamation in Holland preserved in situ and considered a national monument with Harveys of Hayle makers plate still attached. These two buildings are now seriously affected by the single-storey extension to White Hart which is Listed grade II* and its link to the adjoining White Hart (1), Listed grade II. They form a dominant pair at the centre of historic Hayle, the only significant buildings of architectural merit of the early 19C remaining with such connections to the industry on which Hayle's fame and the Harvey family’s fortune were founded.
We have complained to Cornwall Council with respect to the way the application dealt with the application. It is our opinion that in making their decision the Planning Officer failed to pay due regard in the decision making process set out in section 16(2) of the Planning (Listed Builds and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, give proper effect to the duty under section 66(1) Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 when carrying out the balancing exercise, give proper effect to the duty under section 72(2) Planning (Listed Builds and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, properly interpret and apply the relevant planning policies on the effect of development on the setting of heritage assets, which meant that the balancing exercise was flawed or indeed non-existent and provide adequate reasons for the decision.
At our April Conference on Design, Councillor Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Environmental Strategy stated that Local Plan Policy 12 on Design would be “robustly enforced”. It is of grave concern to the Group that this did not happen in dealing with a building of the highest significance in such a sensitive area.
A campaign has started in Penzance to get something done about the semi-derelict building at 18 Chapel Street, TR18 4AW, formerly ‘The Ganges’ Indian restaurant. The building was constructed in about 1790, as one of a group of three substantial houses. The other two, number 15 (Crownley) and number 16 (Trevelyan House), have been restored to a high standard in the past 20 years, whilst the ‘Ganges’ building has been very neglected and has fallen into disrepair. The work in Trevelyan House was shortlisted for a Cornish Buildings Group award in 2002.
It has been empty since the restaurant closed 11 years ago. The slate roof slipped off into the street over 2 years ago and Cornwall Council carried out temporary repairs, covering the roof with blue plastic sheeting held with wood battens. They also took down one of the chimney stacks which was deemed unsafe. Google streetview still shows the state of the building before the roof fell off and the chimney was demolished.
The ownership of the building is problematic. The ground floor freehold is owned by an elderly gentleman who seems totally disinterested in it. The first floor is a ‘flying freehold’ which was purchased very cheaply at an auction a few years ago. The owner of that part claims to have carried out remedial work, though little is obvious from the outside, except for some reinforcement of the battens and sheeting.
We have set up a web page at www.savetheganges.org which has photos of the building and a link to a questionnaire. The local newspaper has reported the campaign at report and the local MP has given support.
Dr Phil Budden, representing The Chapel Street Conservation Group and supported by Penzance Civic Society
Advice given to Church Commissioners by Cornwall Council is response to pre-application to demolish St Paul's church, Tregolls road, Truro.
Historic Environment Planning West Majors
Comment Date: Thu 24 Nov 2016Development Management Comments. (Historic Environment, NLP.)
Pre-application advice for demolition of closed Church
St Pauls Church Agar Road Truro Cornwall TR1 1JU
Ref. No: PA16/02301/PREAPP
Thank you for consulting the Historic Environment Team (listed buildings). This is a grade II listed building set in a prominent location in Truro Conservation and a landmark of the city. My comments are in two sections, the principle and then more detailed comment on the listed building and its fixtures but given the pre-application request, this proposal should be fully considered. The church is of high significant and its proposed demolition should be the last resort. I raise a number of issues and this partly based on the analysis of the site.
The Principle of Demolition.
The issues raised in our previous advice PA15/03346/PREAPP have not been addressed in writing by the applicants.
The replacement of the stone has been argued it is financially unsustainable and this has been used to attempt to justification the demolition of the entire site. This does not in my opinion justify the removal and clearance of the entire site. As heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require clear and convincing justification. There are parts of the church in poor condition and others with some regular maintenance would be in good condition, but there is evidence of deliberate neglect by not replacing missing slates, clearing guttering and this is contrary to NPPFP141.
As I discuss in more detail below, a substantial amount of the church could and should remain as recommended by the Baxter's Structural Report in section 7.3. The freestanding former parish meeting room is in good condition apart from the lack of maintenance and there is no justification for its demolition.
There are many fixtures as discussed in further detail below, which were memorials and in my opinion these should be considered as fixtures, such as the sculpture figures, pulpits and the applicants should consider these as part of any future options and analysis.
Form my analysis below the church was designed in sections and therefore an options appraisal of the site, retaining the substantial part of the church, removing part of the tower returning the site to its 1884 to 1910 appearance, all the tower, replacing just the east end and retaining the naves for church use, community use or conversion should be carried out. Indeed in the Structural Report by Baxter in section 7.3 which suggest considering removal the Polyphant Stone which would result in removal of the latest phases of the church; the tower and east end, and reconstruction of a replacement building which should be linked with the future use of the remainder of the church.
The issues of the poor quality stone and movement at this site were known since 1870's. But appears no monitoring of movement has ever been carried out despite recommendations in the both the Scott and Baxter reports and this should have been carried out since 2008. Given that I am requesting options of retaining substantial parts of the building, for other possible uses, this should be carried out including the south wall.
The Baxter report on the significance should look at the evolution of the building is greater detail, the condition of sections of the building, and locate photographs of the church when viewed from the east on Tregolls Road between 1884 and 1909.
This building is a grade II listed building and therefore the proposals must have regard for the significance of the building and its features and setting and assess the impact of the proposals on the building and its setting. Great weight should be given to the asset's conservation.
Section 66 (1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 sets out our statutory duty in the exercise of planning functions for development which affects a listed building or its setting and states 'shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historical interest which it possesses'.
This site is located in the Truro Conservation Area and please refer to the conservation guidance, including Truro Conservation Management Plan, which lists this building at risk. And we draw your attention to part 1 s.72 (2) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This sets out our duty in the exercise of planning functions within conservation areas and states 'special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area'. Baxter's Significance Report does not in my opinion consider the group values of all the associated buildings.
This pre-app and the information submitted including information submitted in the PA15/ 03346/PREAPP does not address the issues in contained in policies 128, 130, 132, 133, 136 and 138 and policy 24 of the Cornwall Local Plan (emerging,) and sections 66 and 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the pre-application does not justify the demolition of all the buildings from the site.
Detailed analysis of the church.
St Pauls Church was originally built as a chapel of Ease nearer Truro as the 'Rev. Christopher Mends Gibson who sent out the first printed notice in 1841 ' "contains 3,000 inhabitants and there are not more than 300 persons within 2 miles of the Parish church.'' [From Moresk Road to Malpas, 1988]. The Hon Anna Maria Agar and her son Thomas James Agar Robartes offered as gift, a piece of ground and was conveyed in July 1844. The foundation stone was laid on the 9th August 1844. Beneath the stone was laid a glass bottle containing some Victorian coins and an inscription. The church was finished by November 1845 but was in debt until 1864[From Moresk Road to Malpas, 1988].
By an order of the HM in Council dated 4th February 1865 St Paul's was created a separate ecclesiastical district. It is assumed that the font dates from this time.
The church was considered in a poor state of repair by 1873 and being insufficient capacity and J D Sedding had prepared plans in that year. However work was not implemented for this modest scheme incorporating the spire from St Mary's as it was felt that a new tower could be erected more cheaply than paying £300 the Cathedral Committee wanted for the spire and base of St. Mary's Tower. The consecration of first phase of the expansion was held on 7th January 1884. The building was erected at a cost of £3,000 by William Bone of Liskeard, consisted of extensions to the original chancel and south aisle and the chancel end of the future new aisle. The south aisle with its wagon roof and arcade of six semi-circular granite arches and pillars was incorporated into the new structure. [From Moresk Road to Malpas, 1988].
The Tower was completed 1910, to a plainer design, but at in 1884 it was temporarily capped at the level of the church roof.
The newly added sections were chiefly composed of Polyphant stone, a green stone quarried from Lewannick, in East Cornwall. The pillars and arches in the new extensions were made of Doulting stone, a light brown stone brought from the Mendips, Somerset, which was used for Wells Cathedral and Glastonbury Abbey. Hopton Stone a creamy fawn colour quarried in Derbyshire was used for mainly the flooring, much of which is hidden or lost in the Liturgical re-ordering, which was also used for Birmingham Cathedral. In the Baxter's Significance Report, submitted in the previous pre-application that state it is an unidentifiable stone, whereas the From Moresk Road to Malpas, 1988 by the Truro Building Research Group which was not consulted does name the stone used.
The Chancel roof dates from this phase of works and was carried out by Solomon's of Truro. It is divided inset sections each section contained a floral motif or sacred monogram IHS representing Jesus. It is painted on wood with gilded bosses representing flowers and leaves.
The east end chancel window, a seven cusped light window was erected by the widow of Sir Philip Protheroe-Smith of Tremorvah, one of the main financial benefactors of the church. It was made by West Lake of London.
In 1888 as the residential development of the east side of Truro marched up the hill it was decided to further enlarge the building again. This work carried out by John Farley, builder from St Austell, at a cost of £1,650 saw the addition of a new nave and new aisle. The foundations for the old north wall were removed and new foundations built for a new arcade of six moulded arches with ornamental caps of 'Western quarry granite'. The west wall was completely rebuilt. The floor of the nave was laid with 'Nightingale's' yellow deal blocks while slates slabs placed on the bed of six feet deep concrete in the nave passages. The roof was in Delabole slate and the interior stained red deal. The old south porch was demolished and a new one built slightly to the west and an additional porch added on the north.
The glass in the old church was reused in the new church. The old East window of the nave was moved to the west nave; the old east window of the south aisle was moved in the west elevation of the south aisle; and the west wall of the north aisle was left and remains blank.
The organ which has been removed was installed the week beginning 27th June 1889 by Messers Hele and Co, Plymouth.
The final phase was in 1910 when work recommenced on building the tower, which was capped at church roof level in 1884. This was restarted in June 1909. JD Sedding had died in 1891 and his plans were adapted by his nephew Edmund Sedding [From Moresk Road to Malpas, 1988]. Edmund Sedding was also responsible for building two nearby chapels, the Diocesan Training Chapel in Agar Road, and The Community of the Epiphany at Alverton in Tregolls Road. It is interesting comparing J D Sedding proposed drawings in the Building News and the executed design which is much more parred down and not such an expensive design and despite the statement in the Baxter's Significance report, in my opinion is has been built much shorter. Is there a different on the stone used for the buttresses in 1884 and 1909?
The new Tower was consecrated on the 4th March 1910. The peal bell was a gift of Mr Edward Forbes Whitley of Woodville, Agar Road in memory of his Mother. Iron ties were installed in 1914. It was repaired in 1952 after suffering bomb damage in 1942 according to the Baxter Report.
The sculptured figures designs by J D Sedding due to costs were never added, but Mr Whitely made a gift of the current three figures on top the Tower. These figures represent Bishop Trelawney, Sir Richard Greville and Sir John Eliot. There are three niches on the south face of the tower, St Paul is missing but the statutes of Christ and St George remain. A carved wooden pulpit was installed in 1901 in memory of Marianne Protheroe Smith of Tremorvah. A second pulpit standing in the south aisle in 1988 was a 13th century carved of Berestone and said to have come from St Clement's Church and was restored in 1934 in memory of the former vicar, the Rev W Goodwin Kerr.
In 1968 the Liturgical reordering was planned by Mr Giles Bromfield, an architect in Truro and the work carried out by Dudley Coles. [From Moresk Road to Malpas, 1988]. The St Clement's Chapel in the north aisle and the Lady Chapel in the south aisle were removed and the central altar was installed on a raised dais of slate slabs. The Anne Walker reredos were removed, the riddle curtain which formed part of the altar at the east end in 1988 stands the against the West Wall. The 15th century rood screen, which was a carved oak rood screen with four arches and gateway, which was erected in memory of the late wife of Rec Gardener, vicar 1879-1888 has some dry rot in the base and was removed. The cross from the Rood was in 1988 suspended over the central altar.
It was noted from the 1970's it was noted that there was movement about the walls and the decay on the stone work, including the buttress and windows, [From Moresk Road to Malpas, 1988].
The little room, was built as the Parish Room, a detached building standing west of the west end was the gift of Theophilus Lutey Dorrington, alderman, jeweller and watch maker from Cathedral Lane, Truro. The foundation stone was laid in 1905. The architect for this building was Mr Alfred J. Cornelius of Lemon Street, and the builder was Mr. Jabez Francis Parkin of St Clement Street. This building cost £200 to build and measures 18ft by 16ft and is constructed of Plymouth Limestone with granite quoins. A vicarage was built in Agar road in 1872. A school was built in 1858 to the north of the church at a cost of £5,000 using stone from the Cornish Railway cutting near Daubuz Gardens.
The tower was built in two phases and the when the tower is wet, there is a difference in the saturation of the stone. Could this be due the amount of rain fall the upper part of the tower receives, but this is more than the top 25%. Or could this be where the two different phases 1884 and 1910 and there is a use of similar but different composition stone.
It retains some of J. D. Sedding's fixtures and fittings including choir stalls, pews, screens and these should be considered in the Heritage Impact assessment as well, painted roof to chancel and chapel, and a stained glass scheme by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake and the group value with the former Chapel of Rest which is attributed to Sedding and listed at Grade II, the former Parish Room and the School.
Our concerns expressed in a letter to Cllr John Pollard, Leader of Cornwall Council
Dear Cllr Pollard
You might recall that our Group have, on several occasions, contacted you with reference to the plight of St Columb Rectory. In light of our actions we have raised the profile of this important Grade 2* listed building and as a consequence it has received national media coverage with the Victorian Society, Private Eye and national and local newspapers. It is with regret that we have cause to contact you again not only about the rectory but also to champion the cause of neglected Cornish heritage in general.
Our ongoing casework makes for a sorry read and suggests that Cornwall could not manage devolved powers as set out in the Case of Cornwall because it has neither inclination nor resources. The level of our local authority neglect of heritage assets has prompted the Cornish Buildings Group to set up a risk register which is now online. This has been recognised by Heritage England and has been used to inform the SAVE risk register. In the pursuance of our casework, often in conjunction with other statutory and voluntary bodies, we are appalled at the smoke screens that have been thrown up by your staff and at times the lack of courtesy shown in dealing with our enquiries.
The case of St Columb Rectory is a particularly shameful, the history is long and complex and has been drawn to your attention several times over the last five years. Despite assurances to the contrary, updates have not been forthcoming unless chased and any responses we have received lack clarity. On 6 November 2015 Mr Cooper-Young wrote 'I was on site in October. At that time work was progressing to the building to make it weatherproof. The property is secure. The invasive vegetation has been dealt with and repairs to slates were ongoing. A temporary solution for the hole in the roof was being looked into'. In January we were informed that the property had been visited but no-one was not at home while recently on 1 February we were told that 'The Building is secure and there was no evidence of any work being carried out on site'. We will continue to push Historic England and the Victorian Society on this issue in the hope that efforts to enforce action will be taken seriously. We recently raised the profile of the former River Brasserie in River Parade, Lostwithiel, which is unsafe with alarming holes in the roof. Neither Enforcement or Building Control view the state of the building as a concern. Despite community representation to Cornwall Council the historic building remains in a shocking condition in the heart of the conservation area.
We have long championed the cases of Charlestown Chapel and Marlborough House in Falmouth. We will continue to work with the Council for British Archaeology (who have a particular interest in chapels at risk) and Historic England to ensure these two cherished designated buildings have a future. On the former building we, along with the local community, will continue to chase for enforcement action at the very least to make the structure watertight, your team's last communication informed us about a Building Control visit. We are still chasing confirmation of this. Regards Marlborough House we have written to the Senior Development Officer in December 2015 and again in January 2016 in the hope that we might get assurances on its future care. Despite a reply informing us that some negotiations are in hand we still seek clarity that Cornwall Council is committed to this building. We, along with Historic England and the Georgian Group, recognise that Cornwall Council have failed this wonderful building.
Our Group also has several concerns about the wider historic environment. One is the lack of resources available to you to make informed decisions. Based on Freedom of Information obtained we can see that planning applications are not getting due care and attention and that mistakes are being made in the management of our historic assets. We also fear that Cornwall Council are not applying their statutory duty towards long abandoned buildings such as Loggans Mill, Saltash Station, the Old Fire Station in Redruth, all of which have been in a state of decay for a decade or so.
A prompt response to the points raised would be very welcome.
Paul Holden, FSA
Chairman, Cornish Buildings Group
Cllr Pollard's response
Dear Mr Holden
Thank you for your e-mail of the 16 February 2016 and I am sorry to hear of your continuing concerns. I would like to assure you that the stewardship of our environmental assets, including the historic built environment, remains at the heart of the Council’s strategy for a sustainable Cornwall and that we would wish to work together with you to achieve this ambition.
I share your dismay at the state of all the significant buildings you note. I very much welcome the Cornwall Buildings Group’s heritage at risk register, which complements the work being undertaken by the Historic Environment Record (HER) team to ensure that assets at risk are identified to Council Officers. Monitoring the risks to historic buildings is of course essential in prioritising our response.
The use of the statutory powers that the Council holds plays an important part in this work and the Council are continuing to look at these powers on a case by case basis. In the first instance the Council will generally look to work with building owners on a voluntarily basis whilst working together across the Council to identify partnership solutions. We consider this to be a proportionate response in most cases. As you rightly say, the Council has finite resources and formal statutory action can be a complicated and intensive route. It is normally right that enforcement action should be a last resort and to recognise that it provides only temporary solutions unless more sustainable capital investment can be encouraged.
Cornwall Council is extremely active in providing resources to identify such investment, which typically delivers multiple environmental, social and economic benefits for Cornwall. A selection of recent and ongoing projects in which Cornwall Council staff and resources have played central roles in delivering very tangible outcomes for heritage assets at risk is presented below, alongside updates on those difficult ongoing cases raised in your letter. In all cases we stand ready to use available resources to work with owners and other partners to find solutions.
I appreciate your concerns expressed in regards of our own resources and can confirm that we have recently put increased staffing resources in place. These recently enhanced resources include a dedicated advisor within the World Heritage Management team, full time equivalent secondments of Conservation Officer and Archaeological Planning Advisor posts, and the recruitment of two new graduate planning officers within the Historic Environment Planning advice team. Further to these resources we are shortly to commence recruitment of a Historic Environment Record Assistant, which will increase our own ability to monitor heritage at risk, and have secured Government support from Historic England for a study of the local distinctiveness of the Cornish historic environment. This latter study forms part of our commitments with Government coming from the Cornwall Deal.
Delivery of the historic environment elements of the ‘Deal’ is to be steered by a new ‘Historic Cornwall Executive Board’. This Board, external to, but supported by Cornwall Council and Government will develop a future partnership vision for the management of the historic environment of Cornwall. The Board currently includes representatives of the Gorsedh Kernow, Royal Institution of Cornwall, Archaeological Society, English Heritage, and Historic England and will initially steer the ‘distinctiveness study’ before commissioning and leading, later in the year, a Heritage Strategy for Cornwall.
I trust you will find this response helpful and should you wish to discuss this matter further, please contact Daniel Ratcliffe, Historic Environment Lead via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Pollard, Leader of the Council
Cornwall Councillor for the Hayle North Division
Current and recent projects we have supported addressing heritage assets at risk.
The Camborne, Roskear and Tuckingmill Townscape Heritage Initiative Project (nearing completion). Managed by Cornwall Council’s Strategic Historic Environment Team and funded by private owners, the HLF, Cornwall Council and Camborne Town Council this project has drawn down over £4m of investment – including securing the future of 22 buildings at risk.
The St Austell Townscape Heritage project is just getting underway. The project funded by Cornwall Council, St Austell Town Council and the HLF and managed by the Strategic Historic Environment Team has drawn down a HLF contribution of £1m which will be more than matched by private contributions.
The ‘Luxulyan Valley’ Project (£3.5m) received a Stage 1 pass from the HLF this year. This bid, developed by staff in the World Heritage Site and Strategic Environment teams at Cornwall Council will address the condition of the historic leat system and the Scheduled Carmears Viaduct.
The King Edward Mine project (£1.1m) funding for refurbishment and conservation. Partnership application with King Edward Mine Ltd.
Multiple projects identified and developed by our Countryside Archaeology Programme led by the Strategic Historic Environment Team and largely funded by Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme, include Wheal Busy [conversion to workspace] (c.£280K), Wheal Maid [consolidation] (£300K), Wheal Tye [consolidation](£40K), Trevelgue Head [repairs following storm erosion] (£200K), Mt Edgecombe follys and deerhouses [conservation] (£400K), Kennel Vale leats [repairs] (£100K), and china stone mills in the Tregargus Valley [consolidation] (£200K).
Update on progress on the cases raised by the Cornwall Buildings Group.
St Columb Rectory – the enforcement team have been working with the owner of the building since 2014 to seek improvements to the building. The owner has undertaken considerable works to make the building secure and watertight. The enforcement team are continuing to work with the owner and his representatives to work on the long term future of the building.
River Brassiere, Lostwithiel – The Council served Notice under Section 78 of the Building Act in 2015 as the building was considered to be dangerous. The Council are happy to keep this building under review if it deteriorates in the future and it is being assessed for addition to the Council’s own Heritage at Risk register.
Charlestown Chapel – The enforcement team have been working with the owners and have obtained an undertaking for work to commence on the building in March 2016 in respect of the permissions issued, the site is also be monitored by the Council’s Building Control Service in respect of whether it is dangerous or not. Again if the works do not commence by the end of March 2016 the Council will keep the matter under review.
Saltash Station – The enforcement team are currently trying to agree a schedule of works and a timetable to improve the buildings appearance.
Marlborough House – The Council is still in communications with the landowner about works at this property. The new owner is engaging in discussions with our Conservation Officer and applications are in process to address some of the works. This matter is therefore ongoing.
Loggans Mill & Old Fire Station - We do not have any reported matters in respect of these sites. If you would like the planning enforcement department to investigate these matters please use our online reporting form which can be found at https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/planning/enforcement/report-a-breach-of-planning-control/. In respect of Loggans Mill officers are currently actively investigating a grant application which may secure a sustainable solution for this building.
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 athttp://www.cornwall.gov.uk/media/13331534/c4c-full-document.pdf ) 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
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.
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
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