Decision time: Are Carlyon Bay sea defences vital - or an eyesore?
CORNWALL Council chiefs are due to decide if controversial sea defences at a multimillion-pound beach resort scheme should remain for a further three years.
In June Commercial Estates Group (CEG), the company driving the £250 million project at Carlyon Bay, near St Austell, withdrew an application, at the last minute asking for the temporary 80-metre sheet piling to stay until June 30, 2014.
The sea defences, which provide storm protection for the information centre and viewing platform, have been branded an eyesore and illegal by some quarters, an accusation CEG refutes because, it claimed, planning permission was granted in 2011.
The firm's latest application – set to go before the central area planning committee meeting on Monday – requests the sheet piling and rock armour are retained until March 2016.
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Jon Kenny, CEG development director, said the extension will give them time to secure funding for the stalled beach scheme.
Mr Kenny said: "We are requesting an extension to that permission to allow for a more realistic timescale for securing funding and progressing the building programme.
"The recession has impacted heavily on businesses nationwide. Development projects around the country, including other major Cornish projects, have been similarly adversely affected and we are asking for a little flexibility during this difficult period until the economy picks up and development finance becomes more accessible."
CEG has said it hopes to secure funding by mid-2015, which would mean work would start by 2016 – 25 years after planning permission was granted for 500 homes on Crinnis and Shorthorn beaches, and refurbishments of the site.
However, campaign group Carlyon Bay Watch (CBW) is urging the council to reject the application which it said will allow the defences to blight the area for another three years.
CBW has collected more than 700 signatures calling for the defences to be removed and the beach properly cleared up.
A statement from CBW's Peter Price said: "CEG's excuse that the remaining sea defences are needed to protect the information/sales hut is simply not valid because they have permission to remove it to the top car park.
"CEG has been indulged, first by Restormel Borough Council and now by Cornwall Council, for eight years without regard for the rights and interests of those who see Carlyon Bay beach as an important local asset.
"This enormous blight on the shoreline should not be allowed for another three years," the statement added.
CEG said thousands of visitors used the beach this summer, and the firm is making every effort to maintain the site for the public.