Plans to build over 300 new homes in Penzance, which have long courted controversy, are now at the heart of road safety concerns. Hundreds of locals have signed petitions worried that use of a public road by the developers will lead to “havoc and stress” for residents.

The proposal by Devonshire Homes to build 320 homes with associated roads, car parking, cycleways and pavements, on land at Trannack Farm off the A30, near Heamoor, comes before a Cornwall Council planning committee on Monday, February 5. Thirty per cent of the homes, 96 properties, are classed as affordable.

The development is recommended for approval but has been brought to committee by local member Cllr Andrew George who supports Penzance Town Council’s opposition of the proposals.

The main vehicular access has been previously approved despite strong opposition. It is proposed that an emergency access to Polmennor Road would serve 29 dwellings for a temporary period which, according to planning officer Peter Bainbridge, while conflicting with council policy is “not considered significant”. The road would also be used by construction traffic.

Trennack Development 2
(Artist's impression of one of the streets which would be created as part of the 320-home development planned at Trannack Farm, Heamoor, near Penzance)

However, the town council, two parish councils and hundreds of locals believe it would be significant.

Penzance Town Council has objected on numerous grounds, including the “lack of safe access” via Polmennor Road, overcrowding of the site and the “overbearing nature” of the development.

Madron Parish Council also has misgivings regarding Polmennor. “Our biggest area of concern is that the main access for a number of the proposed houses is shown to be made from Polmennor Road. Although this was passed off as a ‘secondary access’ at the consultation and in this application, for a number of dwellings this is in fact the only vehicular access. We also feel that between the consultation and this application, effort seems to have been made by the applicants to downplay the presence of the Polmennor Road access.”

St Erth Parish Council also has concerns that the proposed access will result in a “huge increase in traffic congestion which will have a wider impact than just the Penzance area”.

Around 700 people have signed paper and online petitions begging for “Polmennor Road to be kept rural”.

Roy Blewett, who started the petition with other residents, said: “Polmennor Road is a country lane that links the villages of Heamoor and Gulval, near Penzance. It’s a narrow, winding rural road, much used by horse riders, joggers and cyclists, and by students walking to and from school.

“Out-of-county developers Devonshire Homes want to use this lane to bring construction traffic onto their proposed housing development site at Trannack Farm. That means low loaders and articulated HGVs, ready mix concrete trucks, mobile cranes, skip lorries and 32-ton tipper trucks. They also want to use it for access to around 30 of the 320 new houses on the site.

“This country lane would be spoilt forever and the extra traffic would cause havoc and stress to the residents of Heamoor and Gulval – many of the narrow village streets have no footways and they are busy with pedestrians, especially at school run time.

“There’s no need to do this. What’s more, it’s against Cornwall Council policy, which says that the Trannack site should have ’emergency access only’ onto Polmennor Road. So we are calling on Cornwall Council to enforce their their own policy and keep Polmennor Road rural.”

Stephen Reynolds, who is Mayor of Penzance but spoke to us in a purely personal capacity, is also against the plans.

He said: “Cornwall Council’s own policy for the site is that this lane should be used for emergency access only. This policy was supported by a government inspector, who said the road network is too constrained to allow development traffic to use this route.

“But if the plan goes ahead, construction traffic would access the site through the ‘Ponsandane Narrows’ on the B3311 in Gulval village, which has a single lane and a very narrow footway. There’s huge scope for conflict with quarry lorries from Castle-an-Dinas, agricultural vehicles and buses, not to mention pedestrians and cyclists.

“The developers also want to use Polmennor Road for access to 29 residential properties. They claim the access will only be ‘temporary’ until the main access off the A30 is built, but there’s widespread scepticism in the community as to what ‘temporary’ means and whether this would ever be enforceable.”

Mr Reynolds added: “The report presented to planning committee members completely fails to reflect the strength and seriousness of local objections to the Devonshire Homes proposal. It lists just a handful of wholly unrepresentative and irrelevant objections but fails to mention the many well-founded and documented objections from residents and community groups.”

Karen Clowes, who lives near the road, has written to the council’s west sub-area planning committee members stating: “The thought of even more traffic along an already dangerous piece of road is extremely worrisome.   

“Already I hear people shouting and swearing at each other because two vehicles are trying to pass each other – and mounting the narrow pavement as well, so pedestrians also can’t get past – on an almost daily basis.  Vehicles already get stuck and I have witnessed many vehicle scrapes and near misses, the thought of even more traffic, especially heavy construction traffic, on such an unsuitable road fills me with dread.”

However, not everyone is against the plans. Adjoining division member Cllr Tim Dwelly is urging the planning committee to approve next week.

He said: “The site was chosen by members as an allocated housing site many years ago, in full knowledge that there are limited site opportunities in the Penzance area. Yet the town has the highest housing need in Cornwall. This site proposes almost 100 affordable homes. It is beyond the pale that we should see these homes not delivered during the worst housing emergency in Penzance’s living memory.”