Cottages' new cladding may fall foul of planners' rules
MODERN cladding attached to the exterior of historic mining cottages in Camborne could be removed if officials rule that it has fallen foul of planning regulations.
Leicester-based Mark Group has installed external insulation at 60 homes in the town, free of charge, including 12 on College Street, which lies within a designated conservation area.
Local residents and campaign group Trelawney Alliance said the insulation work had destroyed original features on College Street's former miners' granite cottages.
Cornwall Council's portfolio holder for environment, heritage and planning, Councillor Edwina Hannaford, said their concerns were being investigated by the authority's planning department, which was considering enforcement action.
She told the West Briton: "Parts of College Street fall within the conservation area and there is a requirement for any firm to apply for planning permission before undertaking work. There is an investigation under way and enforcement is being considered."
She said that while sympathising with calls to protect the town's mining heritage, home owners also faced rising fuel costs and wanted to make the most of local subsidies and grants to insulate their homes.
She added: "I want to be sure that planning regulations have been adhered to. These homes are difficult to insulate because they are small and granite blocks. People want to minimise their fuel bills."
The ultimate sanction imposed by the authority could mean the firm being forced to remove the cladding within the conservation area.
"There are 3,000 enforcement complaints with just 300 under investigation. There is a balance to be struck between aesthetics and the needs of local people. But we need to nip this in the bud and ensure the work is being done sympathetically," she added.
Trelawney Alliance chairman, Jean Charman, who has campaigned to protect the cottages' unique exteriors, welcomed the inquiry.
She said many miners' cottages in Camborne dated back to 1820, and were an important part of the county's history and heritage.
She added: "They can be insulated more sensitively but this is not an option for many householders, probably because of costs. We need to stop this destruction of our heritage. It's starting to happen all over Camborne, not just College Street.
"Sensitively insulate yes, but why take the cheapest option and clad over granite and decorative stonework? We need to save our industrial heritage."
In a previous statement to the West Briton, the Mark Group said College Street was a mix of modern and traditional frontages that did not need planning permission for the work.
It said that all the homeowners benefiting from the work were happy with the installations carried out free of charge.
Having been told of the council's investigations, the firm's marketing director, Jonathon Younger, said: "We would be willing to help Cornwall Council with its continuing investigations and achieve clarity on this matter."