£16m Penzance seafront project to be scaled back
DEVELOPERS are to scale back a spectacular £16 million scheme to transform a prime seafront location in Penzance.
In the spring of 2012, London-based Palm Court Properties won the tender to redevelop the Cornwall Council-owned former Vosper's garage site in Coinagehall Street opposite the Jubilee Pool.
But since winning the contract and ahead of submitting a planning application, the developers had been working towards devising a larger scheme, which would include land currently occupied by the Dock Inn, the former Quay Shop, and the Sea Palace restaurant.
Palm Court Properties director Derek Sheldon said that extending the site would help make it a "landmark destination". The scheme was planned to include a 70-bedroom hotel, 50 flats and 7 retail/restaurant outlets around a central open space and parking for 94 cars under the building.
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Two weeks ago, Palm Court Properties and its partners Anglo Holt Construction, gave an update on their plans – which included knocking down and developing the three properties – to both Penzance Town Council and Cornwall Council's Design Review Panel.
Mr Sheldon said he received a positive reaction from both bodies while Dick Cliffe, chairman of Penzance Chamber of Commerce as well as a town councillor, said the chamber was also looking forward to seeing a development in place.
However, in the week that the presentations were given, the developers claimed they were told that at an informal meeting of Cornwall Council's Cabinet, members decided not to recommend approval of Compulsory Purchase Orders for the three properties if necessary.
And last week the developers decided not to press forward with the expanded scheme.
Mr Sheldon told The Cornishman: "We are going to redesign the scheme to exclude the three properties. This will take a little time as we will need to come up with the new plan and discuss the ideas with the planners, but subject to them agreeing with the broad outline of the scheme, we would hope to have an application in by the end of the year."
Dick Cliffe, chairman of the town's chamber of commerce, said the decision placed the developers in an awkward position.
"It was always going to be difficult to get an architectural solution for the Coinagehall site that pleased the majority and was financially viable," he said.
"Having to build around the private premises was always on the cards because nobody has any obligation to sell their property to the developer. It will make getting a pleasing solution for this prominent location more difficult.
"The site is currently semi-derelict and contributes very little that is positive to the town either aesthetically or economically. The right development could make this part of town a destination and add a great deal of vitality to the harbour area.
"We support Cornwall Council's proposals for a hotel-led development on the site because there is a there is a shortage of hotels and hotel beds in Penzance, which makes it difficult to host prestige events in the town."
Cornwall Council declined to comment on whether an informal Cabinet meeting had taken place.