County Hall “land grab” for Truro New Town project set for public inquiry

Posted By on 6th November 2022

By Graham Smith

Cornwall Council is going ahead with compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to acquire the land it needs for its Truro New Town project at Langarth.

The council’s strategic director for economic development, Phil Mason, has exercised powers delegated to him by the ruling Conservative cabinet in June.

Mr Mason’s decision, on Thursday, means it is likely there will now have to be a public inquiry to determine if the council can buy the land - and at what price.

The council’s position is that it has tried to acquire the land by negotiation, but is now concerned that delays could threaten the project – particularly a £47 million contribution from Homes England used to finance the Truro northern relief road, required for access.

At any inquiry, the council will have to prove that its Truro New Town project is overwhelmingly in the public interest – outweighing the conventional property rights of individuals.

But 65% of the 3,800 homes which the council wants to build will be for sale on the open market, with 35% for sale or rent and described as “affordable” but offering only a 20% discount.  None of the Truro New Town project is intended for social housing.

The claimed “public benefit” of covering more than 100 acres of prime agricultural land in concrete therefore remains controversial.

This means the council is acting exactly the same as any other profit-driven property developer – but using CPOs which are not available to private companies.  The council is also the local planning authority, and has already granted itself outline permission for the development.

A schedule of all of the land which the council wants to buy is described in a heavily redacted document which runs to 171 pages.

While the issuing of the CPOs is not a surprise, the political background has seen a reversal of traditional positions adopted by Tory and Labour councillors.

Many Conservatives at County Hall are unhappy that their “local state” is grabbing land from private individuals.  In June, Labour argued against the use of CPOs.

This article has 2 comments

  1. So the shenanegans continue, all to cover up Phil Masons mistakes, incidently he stilll has a job supporting the CEO s questionable decisions. Where is the voice of the people we elect to speak in our behalf for common sense and democracy.

  2. Let’s hope that public enquiry is very thorough! Cornwall NEEDS social housing and NOT the type proposed by Cornwall Council! They are trying to make a profit in a business they know nothing about and when they make the considerable losses predicted they will simply load the cost on the tax payers!

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