No consultation on demolition plans
A CAMPAIGN to save Bodmin's landmark Foster Hall could already be lost after it emerged this week that the public, including local councillors, may not be consulted on demolition plans.
Cornwall councillor Ann Kerridge said she was staggered such an important building could be bulldozed without people having a say in its future.
Cornwall Council says demolition could be classed as "permitted development".
The owner, Community First Cornwall, and leaseholder the Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust, say it is too costly to maintain and an obstacle to development on the old St Lawrence's Hospital site.
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The Foster Hall Revival Trusts says the 1906 building, designed by renowned Cornish architect Silvanus Trevail, could be restored as a community centre and performance venue with a café bar and shops.
However, at a meeting with Mrs Kerridge members learnt they might not have a chance to put their case.
"I'm staggered procedures for the demolition of Foster Hall may involve no public consultation whatsoever," Mrs Kerridge said. "Cornwall Council planners can take an excessive interest in something minor like a garden fence, an internal wall or PVC windows, yet when an important building designed by an iconic Cornish architect is under threat the white flag seems to go up immediately.
"Saving anything of Foster Hall is going to be very difficult but there should be a lot more thought than now seems likely."
A council spokeswoman said there was a "screening opinion" to demolish Foster Hall, which was not a full planning application.
"It's a formal request to ... find out whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed demolition is required," she said. "The request is not a process which involves consultation with the local community."
For an EIA to be necessary, the council would have to decide demolition could have a significant environmental effect, and full planning would then be required. If it was decided an EIA was not to be necessary, the demolition would be classed as "permitted development" and could be carried out subject to the prior notification procedure being followed.
This might involve simply asking the council whether prior approval was required for the method of demolition and any proposed restoration of the site.
The planning department has 28 days to give a formal response to an application for prior notification. Not being a formal planning application, this would not involve consultation with the local community.