Falmouth Rugby Club’s plans for Menehay Fields have gone to appeal

The developers behind plans for 226 homes on land at Menehay, which would secure the future of Falmouth Rugby Club, have appealed against Cornwall Councils refusal of the scheme.

An inspector from the government’s Planning Inspectorate will now determine the future of the proposals and will hold a public hearing at some time in the new year. In the meantime, interested parties have until December 21 to lodge their comments with the inspectorate.

The plans put forward by Westcountry Land & Homes in collaboration with the rugby club, Westco and Galliford Try, include 79 affordable homes, and were refused by the council’s strategic planning committee at the end of March on the recommendation of planning officer, Peter Bainbridge. The refusal was based on the fact the site was not in the council’s Site Allocations Development Plan Document (SADPD), which lists sites approved for development, and the potential effects on the landscape were such that deviating from the plan could not be justified. Councillors also found that the development would damage landscape character and visual amenity and would “erode the separation between Budock Water and Falmouth,” and the application lacked evidence of contributions towards necessary open space and educational infrastructure.

The site, off Bickland Water Road, had originally been bought by the rugby club for around £200,000 and in 2007 permission was granted to develop a new rugby ground on the site, including a clubhouse, two rugby pitches, a training pitch, the installation of floodlights and the formation of a parking area.

Permission was granted in the knowledge that the rugby club’s existing site at the Recreation Ground would be redeveloped. However, this move did not happen and the planning permission expired in January 2012. The proposed development would enable the rugby club to repay its loan, upgrade its current home and provide more facilities for local schoolchildren.

A 50 page appeal statement prepared by Laurence Associates on behalf of the developers, ends with: “Having independently assessed the merits of the appeal application and taking the holistic case on behalf of the appellant, I consider that the benefits of the proposals to be substantial and compelling. I therefore conclude that the benefits of the proposals significantly and demonstrably outweigh any potential harm.”