Potential windfall for Falmouth club after proposed development but residents fear further projects

A proposed development which could score a windfall for Falmouth Rugby Club has sparked fears of a huge house-building programme. Westcountry Land & Homes has announced a project to build 235 homes on the Menehay Farm site off Bickland Water Road on the outskirts of Falmouth. The project could earn millions of pounds for the rugby club, which owns the site.

But Councillor John Bastin, of Budock Parish Council and Cornwall Council member for Constantine, Mawnan and Budock, is concerned the plan could trigger a domino effect of housing developments. He said Westcountry Land & Homes and Business Location Services, which own more land in the area as well as other sites nearby, hopes to build even more homes, which he did not believe were needed. 

Councillor Bastin said of the rugby club’s Menehay Farmland: “A pre-application has gone in (to Cornwall Council) and a big sign has gone up but that is as close to reality as it’s got so far. With the evolving Falmouth local plan, there is no need to develop this area. It was taken off the list as an approved development area earlier this year. 

“That 235 houses is a lot. It will be a lot more than that. They own the fields on either side of the site too. Potentially, if you are looking at the playing field site and the other sites, we would be looking at 500 houses.” Business Location Services’ senior management includes Russell Dodge, the father of Justin Dodge, of Westcountry Land & Homes.

Mr Bastin feared the incentive to help the rugby club could make the housing issue more difficult to argue against, adding: “The issue of the rugby club muddies the water. It means it isn’t clear if you’re voting against the houses or voting against the club.” The land was bought by the club for £210,000 with a plan to relocate its ground there several years ago. Despite local objections, planning permission was granted, but the move never happened. Westcountry Land & Homes’ website proposes that up to 235 homes could be built on the 7.5-hectares (18.6-acre) Menehay Farmland.

The developer said money raised from the project would go towards improving and adding facilities to Falmouth Rugby Club at the Recreation Ground off Dracaena Avenue, for all ages, from its first team to junior squads. In a statement, Westcountry Land & Homes said: “In partnership with Falmouth Rugby Club, we hope to not only provide high quality, affordable homes for people who need them, but also new, improved sports facilities for local players and families. Falmouth Rugby Club owns the land and if planning permission is granted for the proposed development, this will generate significant funds for the club and safeguard its future at the Recreation Ground.”

“The ethos of Westcountry Land & Homes is to create affordable housing in areas where there is the greatest need,” said John Schuttkacker, Director, Westcountry Land & Homes. “As a locally-based company, we are committed to bringing forward affordable homes in this area of Cornwall where there is huge demand from young families and professionals. I am thrilled to be involved with this project, working so closely with Falmouth Rugby Club as it will not only provide housing, and much needed affordable housing but will also safeguard the future of Falmouth Rugby Club. Sport is a vital part of community life and has been a big part of my life. Securing the future of the Rugby Club and improving its facilities for Falmouth is close to my heart.”

In a statement, Nevile Curnow, club chairman, said: “After years of speculation over Falmouth RFC’s future at the town’s recreation ground, the club is delighted to announce that it has reached an agreement for the disposal of the land at Menehay. The sale and any development of this land will allow Falmouth RFC to remain in the heart of the town and also secure the future of local rugby for a minimum of two generations. The club is delighted to be able to cement itself at the rec, which has been its home since 1904 and it’s third home since its conception in 1873.”