Coyte Farm: Biggest day in shaping St Austell's future is nearly here
THE FATE of three major planning applications that could reshape the future of St Austell will be decided in the new year.
Thursday, January 17 will be D-Day for planning applications for three supermarkets, all battling for a slice of St Austell.
Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee will debate applications for supermarkets at Coyte Farm in St Mewan, Pentewan Road in St Austell, and Penwinnick Road in St Austell.
The Coyte Farm application outlines a £110 million development including a Sainsbury's as well as a 160,000sq ft shopping park, care home and pub.
Phase two of the application – which has not been submitted – could see up to 250 homes built, 30 per cent of which would be affordable.
Controversially, it would have more retail floor space than all St Austell's town-centre shops combined.
Mercian Developments Ltd, the company behind the scheme, said it would provide more than 1,000 jobs, but campaigners have argued that these would just be displaced from elsewhere.
Last week the Cornish Guardian revealed the results of its poll, asking readers if they supported the multimillion-pound development. More than 72 per cent of almost 1,200 people said 'no'.
Arguments against included that it would "destroy" the town centre, would take away green fields and would increase traffic problems.
"Our task over the coming weeks is saying we haven't gone large merely for the sake of it, it's because occupiers tell us they want to come," said Simon Hoare, from Mercian.
"We are absolutely confident anything smaller and less dramatic would not do the job that needs to be done."
St Austell Town Council is due to form its response to Coyte Farm – either to support or object to it – on Tuesday (December 11).
The town council has already objected to two separate applications – one from developers Terrace Hill and one from Cornwall Council – to demolish the existing council offices on Penwinnick Road to make way for a 21st-century building and a new supermarket.
Cornwall Council said the proposed four-storey office would safeguard the 450 public sector jobs in the town and save about £700,000.
Terrace Hill has applied to build a food store next door, creating about 350 jobs.
"It's the site closest to the town centre therefore, as far as is possible, (it) can genuinely generate linked trips with both the town centre and neighbouring facilities," said Adam Pratt from Terrace Hill.
"Surveys have confirmed there will be no material impact on trade in the town centre.
"Our primary focus is to make sure our own proposals are as comprehensive as they can be and offer as much to the town as possible. We also keep an eye on what competitors are doing."
But Tom French, chairman of St Austell Chamber of Commerce, said: "It's interesting that Sainsbury's is unlikely to want to go to the potential site at 39 Penwinnick Road because it's too small. And furthermore, Morrison's don't like their supermarkets on stilts. So it's probably fair to say no supermarket really wants that site."
The third application is for a Morrison's supermarket on brownfield land at the Pentewan Lab Site, by developers Broadley Park Properties.
"We remain confident that our proposal is fully compliant with all policies and delivers by far the best outcome for St Austell," he said.
"It delivers real reductions to traffic congestion by replacing the double mini-roundabouts with a single roundabout and also delivers further major investment in the town centre at a level way above either of the others, despite ours being the smallest scheme.
"It also delivers new, sustainable long-term jobs that aren't just a displacement of existing ones."
The chamber has said it supports this application.