Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Being based St Austell way I am only too aware of the plans to build an eco-town in and around the town - except this isn't an eco-town is it? It's a spread out series of developments which appear to just be a licence to print money for wealthy developers.

Don't get me wrong, if this was really a step towards creating a sustainable, environmentally friendly development which would provide homes and jobs for those that need them I would be all for it. But it isn't. There will be some affordable housing, although you can almost guarantee that less than 40% will be affordable and even then it is "affordable" in the sense that anyone on an average salary in Cornwall would never have a hope in hell of buying one.

Again there will be housing which will be environmentally friendly, but will it really be at the forefront of the techniques and technology available? The homes at the top of the range might be but I bet not all of them are.

Then there is the issue of funding - we have already seen that govt funding provided to launch some initial projects has not exactly gone to the areas where these developments will be - in fact most of it has been ploughed into St Austell town centre. Yes, it needs all the help it can get, despite having a shiny new £75m shopping centre, but surely that money would be better spent, or saved, to provide the infrastructure which will be needed to support the new development? A community cafe in the town run by Eden might be great, but who will really benefit from that? Some of the shops in the town maybe, but it will really be just another chance for Eden to do a bit of self-promotion.

We also have to look at the credentials of Orascom, the Egyptian firm which is working on this with Eden, Imerys and Cornwall Council (although it's still unclear how much influence CC will have in all this). Take a look at their website and they specialise in luxury developments mainly in the Middle East. One of the sites for the eco-town is at Nanpean, need I say anymore? From the comments I've seen so far from Orascom it would appear that it is a marina at Par that most interests them...

There have been comments from St Austell members of Cornwall Council who say they haven't been consulted on the initial projects - that looks set to change, but it makes you wonder who decided what the initial projects would be. Was it officers? Was it Orascom? Imerys? Eden? Whoever it was, it doesn't seem the best way of allocating public money.

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