Shop plan: 'Bodmin is not Bath'
PLANS to radically overhaul Bodmin's town centre to reflect its historical past have been condemned as "laughable" and unaffordable by town councillors.
A local trader said the proposals would signal the death knell for local traders.
Cornwall Council planners want traders to get rid of their modern shopfronts and reinstate them with historic frontages that conform to Fore Street's conservation area status.
A 100-page Conservation Management Plan also takes exception to uPVC windows, satellite dishes and contemporary shop signs, and would like them all removed.
The planners also want to put pavements back into Honey Street and replace its hanging baskets with trees.
The town council has told the report's authors that producing the document was a waste of public money, its recommendations were insensitive to modern commerce and Bodmin was not Bath.
Bodmin town councillor Phil Kerridge said planners were doing their best to strangle the town.
"I am amazed that while Cornwall Council continues to make huge cuts, it can afford to indulge its staff in the luxury of producing 100-page ego trips like this," he said.
"I am also amazed a council that signed up to localism wants to steamroller not only local views but years of work to get economic growth in the future.
"We all want to save the best of our buildings, but Bodmin can't afford to give even more powers to a small group of planners apparently insensitive to anything but their own obsessions.
"I am very worried because these people have a track record even with their current power. They don't even like the blocked new railings for Shire Hall – intended to help people get up the steps – just because they wouldn't look right."
Cornwall Council says windows and doors in sensitive locations within the conservation area should be of traditional materials and design, and satellite dishes should not be placed on the front of buildings.
The local authority says many of the shop signs in Fore Street are of poor quality, with businesses going for the cheapest, largest and brightest options.
Some modern shopfronts have been described as being "of poor design which is alien to the street scene".
The report says a scheme should be implemented to encourage the repair or reinstatement of historic shopfronts.
Laura Galvin, who runs the Sports Shop on Mount Folly, and is chairman of the Honey Street Traders' Association, gave the recommendations short shrift.
"These proposals are just ridiculous and it is certainly not appropriate to ask independent traders to spend that sort of money on their shopfronts.
"It will be the death knell for small businesses in the town," she said.
Bodmin Chamber of Commerce chairman Chris Wilkes said there had been many changes in the town centre during the past 100 years, and far more discussion was needed before any of the proposals contained in the report were implemented.
"I would strongly urge that a reasoned and sensible around-the-table debate takes place before anything actually happens with this management plan so we can discuss what is achievable," said Mr Wilkes.
No one from Cornwall Council was available for comment as the Cornish Guardian went to press.