Supermarket plan fails to impress
CORNWALL Council has been branded "judge, jury and executioner" during a special meeting of town council chiefs to discuss proposals for a supermarket and council offices.
On Tuesday St Austell Town Council shunned the two separate applications, which propose the demolition of the existing Cornwall Council offices for a new 21st-century building and a new supermarket in Penwinnick Road.
Cornwall Council's application is for a four-storey office building to safeguard the 450 jobs in the town and the potential to offer community space.
The new premises would house staff who are already based at the current office as well as staff from Penwinnick House and the rented Sedgemoor building, which is shared with the Primary Care Trust.
Cornwall Council says the new building will save around £700,000.
Developers Terrace Hill Group has applied to build a food store next door to Cornwall Council's vision.
The proposals have been hailed as a lifeline to securing jobs in the town for the future and balancing the books as Cornwall Council faces tough financial choices.
Peter Marsh, head of property services at Cornwall Council, said: "The drivers are financial, the drivers are the environment, the drivers are our staff."
Adding if these proposals were approved it would be "cost-neutral" for the council. And as a frenzy of supermarkets clamber for planning consent in the town he called this site – a stone's throw from Pondhu Primary School – the "best site".
He said it would generate 350 jobs and employment during the construction stage.
But over the two hours councillors grilled both Cornwall Council and the development company over the plans.
Although the proposals include £100,000 Section 106 money to improve the surrounding infrastructure, town chiefs remained unconvinced.
Businessman Steve Hurst said it was "Cinderella syndrome" to demolish a building and shoehorn them into something smaller.
"We are very concerned that some of the jobs will go to Bodmin."
While Wendy Earl, for Poltair, said the A390 was already "overwhelmed" by traffic and the "green gateway and the area of "special character" should be protected.
"I think it is immoral Cornwall Council should be judge, jury and executioner; owning the land and making the decision on the validity of the application.
While Cornwall councillor Steve Double, who represents Poltair ward, said: "There's a lot I don't like. I'd rather not see a supermarket."
But he highlighted the need for the investment to ensure St Austell jobs secured for the future.
"The only way that this will work is with a supermarket," he added.
Cornwall councillor Jenny Stewart for Gover ward also supported the applications.
She said: "I want to see jobs in St Austell more than anything else and I know Cornwall Council has to save money … and this is a way we can save money."