A charitable organisation with more than 400 members, which aims to preserve an unspoiled Cornish beach and its wildlife, claims new plans for an “aparthotel” go against planning policy and could ruin a National Landscape (formerly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or AONB).

PBHH Ltd, owner of the former Pendower Beach House Hotel - affectionately known as the ‘pink hotel’ - has submitted plans to regenerate the disused and largely derelict site overlooking the beach near Veryan on the Roseland Peninsula.

The regeneration encompasses 23 two- and three-bed family self-catering holiday-let suites, a public café and restaurant with 40 internal and up to 40 external covers, a shop for use by self-catering visitors and beachgoers, and on-site accommodation for staff.

Scaled back from plans submitted in 2020, which received over 500 public objections, the new plans are 25 per cent smaller in size with the applicant claiming the economic, social and environmental benefits satisfy the exceptional circumstances test for major development in a National Landscape.

However, the Friends of Pendower Beach organisation disagrees. Group member Simon Fielder said: “What’s being proposed is two-and-a-half times bigger than what’s already there.

“It’s a major development which goes against all planning policy, including the Cornwall Local Plan and the Roseland Neighbourhood Plan, which specifies there shouldn’t be any major development in an AONB unless there’s a strong public need.”

Fellow member Helen Hastings said the development would have “major consequences” on an adjacent site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and the heritage coast.

She added that nearby Melinsey valley is one of the few examples of a temperate rainforest in the country, as noted by Sir David Attenborough. Members are worried about the effect the development would have on such land.

“The strength of feeling in the area is huge – you just have to walk up and down the beach and speak to people,” said Helen. “So many say ‘you cannot do that here’.”

Simon added: “We’re not saying that there shouldn’t be development there, just not overdevelopment.” They also expressed concerns about access down the narrow Rocky Lane leading to the beach and the proposed aparthotel.

“An AONB has the same status as a National Park,” Helen added. “Any major development is not permitted unless there is an overwhelming public need and it can be shown that any development would both conserve and enhance the AONB.

“It is highly unlikely that AONB restrictions on a major development would ever allow a change of use. The beach hotel might get a bit bigger, but it would need to remain a hotel.

“In a new planning application filed a few weeks ago, the developer simply redefines 20 self-contained apartments as an aparthotel. Aparthotels are classified as hotels, but only if they have a single owner.

“In the details of the new plan, the developer has revealed that the apartments will be sold to multiple owners on long leases, presumably off plan as an investment opportunity.

“Short-term sublets will be handled on behalf of the long-term lessees by a management company – an entirely different type of enterprise, namely a holiday letting scheme.

“One has to ask if it’s reasonable to allow a planning applicant to define a major development as something it is not.”

A spokesperson for PBHH Ltd said the aparthotel option was assessed as “of an appropriate scale to its location” and would provide “a well-balanced mix of economic, social and environmental benefits on the existing, previously developed brownfield Pendower Beach Hotel site”.

The spokesperson explained that private investors would purchase apartments tied by a rental agreement to the hotel management company.

“This will help to fund the sensitive regeneration of the former Pendower Beach House Hotel, paying special attention to the ecology of the site, bringing about a biodiversity net gain score of 17 per cent, and the future-proofing of Rocky Lane against coastal erosion for future generations to come.”

The hotel apartments will be for holiday accommodation only and cannot be occupied as a person’s sole or main place of residence. The management company would be responsible for marketing and renting out the apartments year-round.

“Earning an administrative fee for each booking, as well as charges for changeovers, housekeeping, and communal area maintenance, high levels of occupancy will be in its interest,” added the spokesperson.

The application, which the site owners say will create employment for 12 to 15 staff, currently has 29 comments against and 12 in favour on Cornwall Council’s planning portal.

Dr James Sciberras is a supporter of the scheme. “This development offers an opportunity to transform a derelict site into a valuable community asset, bringing economic benefits and enhancing local biodiversity,” he said.

“By adhering to high ecological standards and promoting biodiversity net gain, the project sets a precedent for sustainable development within Cornwall’s AONB.”

For more details or to add a comment, see PA24/00042 on the council’s online planning register.