It’s been a three year process to get to this stage. It involved a number of initial consultations, many discussions at Council meetings with stakeholders and the community, the commissioning of various assessments, and lots of research and analysis.
In January 2020, we launched a draft of the neighbourhood plan at Penryn Library for public consultation. Policies in the plan included protections for College Valley as a local green space to prevent future planning applications which would adversely affect the valley being supported, and a proposal to restrict houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) to 10% of dwellings to be achieved through a future Article 4 restriction implemented by Cornwall Council.
On the day, over 130 people dropped in to discuss the plan with Councillors and members of the steering group, view summaries of the policies, read the plan in full and provide us with feedback in person. The consultation was open for six weeks and ended on 2 March 2020. Our aim was to secure feedback from a representative mix of people. To achieve that, we also made the neighbourhood plan available online alongside an interactive map and digital version of the feedback form. The forms were designed to gauge support for each policy as well as providing space for comments.
We were very encouraged to see that on the whole, there was strong support for the policies in the draft plan. There were comments made in response to a number of the policies and about the plan overall. These were all carefully considered. In some cases, changes were been made to the draft neighbourhood plan to help address people’s concerns.
Many comments made reference to climate change. Clarifications and policies within the remit of neighbourhood planning were made including resilience of new developments against rising sea levels, good design should promote inclusion of community growing and allotments, a broader range of named technologies in support of providing renewable energy, and the inclusion of car charging points in new developments.
On employment, clarifications were made about safeguarded sites on Kernick Industrial Estate. And although it was already considered as an area providing important employment in the plan, Commercial Road was not explicitly recognised as an employment site. It is now defined as one and includes Islington Wharf and Jubilee Wharf.
Then on community infrastructure, the focus of green infrastructure was previously on protecting existing areas. This has been adjusted to state that we support new areas of green infrastructure in the same way. Public houses (Pubs) have also been explicitly recognised as community infrastructure.
In some cases, the comments fell outside what a neighbourhood plan is able to do. So whilst we recognised comments raised about car parks and on-street parking (outside of new development), business rates and bus services, the Penryn Neighbourhood Plan is not the place to resolve them. Climate change was a common theme in the feedback as well.
Following approval by Penryn Town Council, the plan was submitted to Cornwall Council for further assessment and consultation. Cornwall Council publicised and made the plan available for further comment for 12 weeks from 18 June to 10 September 2020. An assessment of the plan was also completed by an independent examiner to check for consistency with national and local policy.
Subject to some minor changes, they recommended the plan was ready to take forward to referendum.