PEOPLE power has won out in what has been described as a ‘David and Goliath’ battle between residents of St Ives and hotel giant Whitbread.

The company’s plans to build a 90-room Premier Inn hotel overlooking the town have been refused by a Cornwall Council planning committee.

The proposals have been hugely controversial since they were first announced with protests being held and St Ives Town Council strongly opposing the scheme which would have seen the demolition of Cornwall’s Care Home, the town’s last remaining care home, and its residents moved to other homes in Cornwall.

The meeting at County Hall / Lys Kernow on Monday, April 29 saw another protest by worried residents.

Despite the opposition, the council’s planning department recommended approval stating that previous planning permission for the site on Trewidden Road for an aparthotel gave “significant weight to the current proposal.”

The plan for the five-storey Premier Inn was deemed satisfactory in size and boundary screening.

Local member Cllr Andrew Mitchell was passionate in his opposition: “Anybody looking at this building, particularly from the harbour, would say these eight following words: ‘How did that get planning?’

“This is a story of David and Goliath; a story where the officer has been hoodwinked by the applicant at the expense of listening to the voice of reason from the people who actually care.

“It’s simply not appropriate for such a compact site – it’s the architectural equivalent of putting a pint into a half-pint pot.

“If approved, this scheme will become a bad neighbour and create a horrible urban, five-storey oppressive streetscape in an area characterised by generous and lush gardens where buildings are set back sensitively.

“We do not want a skyline filled with 90 windows and a restaurant glowing into the night.”

Whitbread’s Louise Woodruff told the meeting: “Our research shows there is a clear unmet demand for affordable, good quality, year-round visitor accommodation within St Ives.”

She said it would create 30 permanent jobs and help investment in the local economy.

Chris Dadds, a town planner supporting the Premier Inn plan, was asked if he felt the height and mass of the building was in keeping with the surrounding area. “Yes,” came his succinct reply.

Following discussion by councillors, where concerns were raised about its scale and negative effect on other accommodation businesses in the town, the planning committee refused on the grounds that it would have an adverse impact on the skyline and any economic benefits would not be outweighed by the hotel’s visual harm.

Ten councillors voted to refuse with one abstention and no votes in favour.

Chair of St Ives Town Council planning committee, councillor Ken Messenger said: “Cornwall Councillors have listened to our local community’s voices.”