Opposition grows to huge retail scheme
By Cornish Guardian | Friday, November 02, 2012, 08:00
A DEVELOPMENT that will provide more square feet of retail space than all Bodmin's shops put together has been tabled for the outskirts of St Austell.
The proposals for the out-of-town retail park at Coyte Farm would also offer more retail space than shops in Liskeard, Launceston, Saltash and Bude.
It would include a 68,000sq ft Sainsbury's supermarket with eco-credentials, a 160,000sq ft shopping park with large units for up to ten national retailers, a care home, a 12-acre youth academy extension to St Austell Golf Club, a pub and land for improvements to St Mewan's school and church.
Phase two, due to be submitted in 2013, would bring up to 250 homes, 30 per cent of which would be affordable.
The developers say it will:
Create about 1,600 jobs (600 during construction).
Provide a destination, encouraging other national retailers to set up shop in St Austell.
Act as a buffer between St Austell and other retail centres such as Truro and Plymouth, to which it loses about £100 million of non-food retail expenditure annually, keeping residents in the town and encouraging them to make linked trips with the town centre.
Invest £110 million of private capital in St Austell at a time of economic uncertainty.
However, the proposals have been met with staunch opposition from some town traders.
"The town centre's in a fight for its life. We're calling on the entire community, everyone who values their town centre, to join us in opposing this totally inappropriate development," said Steve Hurst, a member of St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce.
"Cornwall councillors need to understand that the people of St Austell do not want their town centre and the traders within it put out of business."
Following a meeting in September at which the chamber secured support from 80 businesses it has launched a campaign against the Coyte Farm plan, with the backing of White River Place's owner Ellandi, the town's Business Improvement District (BID) Steering Group and town-centre investor Colvase Estate.
It has set up a campaign base in the town centre and will be looking to mobilise backing in the community through petitions and letter-writing campaigns to Cornwall Council's planners.
Simon Hoare from Coyte Farm developer Mercian said: "At a difficult economic time, it's a fantastic vote of confidence in St Austell that both the owners of White River Place and us are seeking to invest in the town's economy, create jobs and help the development of St Austell.
"I want all of us to work together to ensure a vibrant town centre and new retail at Coyte Farm."