I’m pleased to review the most important events of last year and take a look at the year ahead.
Last year we had two key priorities:
• progressing the Neighbourhood Plan; and
• improving the Vestry Rooms.
In terms of the Neighbourhood Plan, I don’t need to say much because you will have seen Mick’s report elsewhere in the agenda but I would like to add my thanks to all of those involved with the production of the Draft Neighbourhood Plan Policy Document which is almost ready.
This document represents a huge amount of work undertaken by relatively few Councillors and community representatives – all volunteers of course – and I would like to thank all of them, especially Mrs Claire Casey, for their time and commitment which has got us to this point.
I look forward to the forthcoming consultation events and working with the Neighbourhood Plan Team again when we go through all of the feedback and subsequently produce the next version of the document.
As far as the Vestry Rooms are concerned, the Building Survey Report confirmed the scale of the work needed to bring this building back to life.
We are currently working our way through the legal process to establish: full ownership details; access rights; and whether there are any use restrictions.
When that work has been concluded, we will seek planning advice about potential uses, bearing in mind that it is a Listed Building, situated in a Conservation Area.
We must also refer to our Neighbourhood Plan Policy Document because the Objective 4 Group, which is reviewing the importance of all community buildings, has reflected the views of the community which have been made at previous engagement events.
That Group proposes that the Neighbourhood Plan will: “Support plans for the Parish Vestry/Memorial Rooms that preserve its historic heritage, whilst updating the building for use by the Parish Council, social groups and business enterprise”.
The renovation of this building remains a key priority but we will need grant funding to enable this to happen.
So, to support our grant funding applications with evidence, we will consult the community again, asking what they would like to see the building used for and this will also inform the Council’s decision-making.
As far as other important community buildings are concerned, the Parish Council now owns the freehold of the public conveniences in Tredrea Lane.
In order to bring this facility into the 21st century, we will be considering plans to repair and modernise the building, making it accessible for everyone and fit for purpose.
We have been promised a grant from Cornwall Council towards the cost of these works and there may be other sources of grant funding we can also attract.
The Council will also be considering options to reduce the running costs and whatever is decided, our aim is to complete the modernisation during this financial year.
Planning featured prominently again in the work of the Council last year and we are still involved with the development at Wellfield Close and Meadowsweet Close by having regular meetings with the builder, 3MS and regular contact with Devon and Cornwall Housing.
Following the recent launch event, I can report that:
• the total number of bids was 396
• 195 were for the four 1 bed flats
• 114 were for the seven 2 bed houses and
• 87 were for the five 3 bed houses
The houses were more than 24 times oversubscribed!
I am pleased to announce that all nominations from Cornwall Homechoice to DCH are from those with a primary connection – i.e. those who met the local connection criteria to St Erth Parish.
Of the 16 properties available, five were transfers from the housing association to downsize – one to a 1 bedroom flat and four to a 2 bedroom house – and it is anticipated that the first property will be occupied in early July.
As far as other developments are concerned, we continue to talk to St Aubyn Estates about their proposals to build housing elsewhere in the parish and I have invited them to meet the Council in July to outline the plans in more detail.
Through sheer persistence, we are now invited to participate in the discussions about the St Erth Multi-Modal Transport Hub and again, I have invited representatives of Cornwall Council to update the Council on the latest position.
In the meantime, Mick Hanley, Lionel Pascoe and I, along with representatives from Ludgvan Parish Council, have been invited to a further meeting on 19 May at 10am in Threemilestone.
As soon as I receive the agenda, I will send it to Councillors and if there are any questions you would like me to raise on your behalf or if any of you are able to attend the meeting, please let me know.
Last year, the ’20 is Plenty’ campaign, which was launched to make the parish a safer place, achieved two notable successes: firstly, the introduction of No Waiting Restrictions from the A30 junction with Station Approach, through to Treloweth Bends (which should be undertaken and completed before the May Bank Holiday in 3 weeks’ time); and secondly, agreement with Cornwall Council to reintroduce a £450,000 highway improvement scheme, along Treloweth Lane, to provide more pavements, lighting and safe crossing points.
It is also fair to say that the Parish Council not only learns from its successes but also from initiatives which don’t go as intended – and the proposal for No Waiting Restrictions in Fore Street is a good example.
We have learned that just because we believe we know what people want, this isn’t always the case and therefore, we need to involve the community more closely in matters which could have a significant impact on them.
To that end, we will be appointing a Working Group which will not only review the existing traffic problems in the parish but will offer opportunities for residents and others to engage in the process to help us come up with potential solutions.
Looking to the year ahead, our overall aim, as always, is to improve the quality of life for our community and to achieve that, we will focus our efforts on:
• completing the Neighbourhood Plan;
• increasing our conversation with the community so we understand what really matters most to them; and
• providing services and facilities which are efficient, effective and affordable.
That is the end of my report – thank you”.