An exciting proposal for a mixed-use development including a significant out-of-town student accommodation scheme on a brownfield site close to Falmouth University’s Penryn Campus has been unveiled.
In addition, there will be capacity for a new Penryn health centre, modern employment space and, prospectively, innovation hubs to assist the growth of the local knowledge-based economy.
The proposed out-of-town scheme has been designed in response to local residents’ concerns regarding the increased demand for student housing located within the town centres of Falmouth and Penryn.
Earlier this year Cornwall Council voted to increase the number of students enrolled on courses from 5,000 to 7,500 in the face of public opposition. However, in reality the number of students enrolled on courses across the two campuses in 2016/17 is more than 7,000 (Penryn is around 5,400; Wood Lane is around 1,600).
It is anticipated that this growth will continue in the coming years and that student numbers will grow from 6,300 in 2015/16 to 8,100 in 2019, and continue well into the future at a similar rate. It is therefore not beyond the realms of possibility that the total number of students that would need accommodation in 2025 would be well in excess of 10,000.
The purpose-built accommodation for students would form a part of a South Kernick master plan, be within walking distance of the Penryn Campus, and would have rents set below the current average cost for student accommodation locally, aiming to pull students out of existing town centre HMOs.
Project manager Andy Cook from Irregular Cornwall, the company behind the development, is confident the proposed out-of-town development would provide a strong alternative to student housing in Falmouth and as well as creating a significant number of local jobs.
He said: “We’re excited to be creating a local solution to the pressures of student accommodation. The number of students is going to rise – the cap has already been raised by Cornwall Council – so there needs to be a fast and practical solution that deals with local people’s objections to in town development and which protects the beautiful greenfield surroundings.
“We want to move quickly to stem the loss of houses that could be used for local families as well as re-vitalising redundant brownfield land.”
The planning application was submitted to Cornwall Council on 14th June 2017. Whilst the application is being dealt with Irregular Cornwall’s design team are moving forward the design and preparing the site for development.
If approved quickly, work could start in September, with students moving in as early as September 2018.
Phase one of the planning application for the brownfield site would accommodate 264 students. In addition it could provide a new health centre with a GP surgery in the old Home Shed building Homeshed went into administration in late 2016 with the loss of 18 jobs. The previous occupiers of the Homeshed building had also fallen into administration.
To move quickly, the proposal sets out an exciting plan to use shipping containers, engineering and transforming them locally into architecturally designed, vibrant and stylish accommodation.
The university, local and national politicians and planning officials have encouraged re-use and innovation on this redundant part of Kernick.
The student accommodation would be managed by staff, and offer a mix of high quality student rooms for undergraduate, postgraduate and international students, including rooms with disabled access. All rooms would have ensuite facilities and high bandwidth Internet and communication networks. The scheme would benefit from landscaped gardens, a swimming pool, gym facilities, and significant provision for cycle storage.
The future master plan aims to provide sufficient levels of parking to be utilised by the entire scheme.
All the required assessments have been carried out and included in the planning application, including economic, environmental, traffic and noise level assessments.
At the moment, despite being earmarked as an industrial site, there are few employment opportunities, various older and empty units, and 12 jobs across the entire master plan site, with just two current jobs on the application site.
Mr Cook added: “We are sensitive to the local needs of the community and hope people will look at the plans and see the benefits, both in terms of easing the pressure on local housing and providing new local jobs.”
A website has been set up and Irregular are urging local people to have their say.
Notes to editors
• The Irregular proposal will enhance the area and is the first phase of a wider vision that will be a catalyst for the renovation and transition of an under-utilised area of Kernick Industrial Estate to create a vibrant new mixed use area.
• The exponential rise in student numbers has by far exceeded purpose built student accommodation provision levels. In turn this has led to a substantial increase in the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in Falmouth and Penryn over the last 10 years. Too many HMOs has led to the loss of “normal” stock housing to HMOs; upward price pressure on the local housing market; on-street parking issues; some anti-social behaviour; negative impacts on the overall character and appearance of the towns.
• The Local Plan sets out strategies and allocations. On Falmouth and Penryn, it says: “In delivering the housing target for Falmouth and Penryn, priority should be given to the utilisation of brownfield and urban sites;… In delivering the housing growth for the towns, focus should be given to delivering an appropriate mix of housing to address local housing need, and the need for student accommodation.
• The Falmouth and Penryn Employment Evidence Report highlights that: land to the north of Penryn (Treliever) is unsuitable for development because it would harm the landscape and be divorced from the urban area; and, the western part of Kernick Industrial Estate (near Asda) “has good access to the road network….[and employment should be]…part of a mixed use of the land.”
• The landowner of the proposed Treliever strategic allocation has issued a letter of support for the Kernick scheme. The letter also says that their greenfield land will not come forward for development which seriously undermines the emerging policy solution to the identified, now critical, need for Purpose Built Student Accommodation.
• The proposed development is shown in the context of a proposed master plan for this transitional area of Penryn. Currently the site supports only 17 jobs creating negligible positive economic impacts. The proposals would support 160 jobs and around £5.3 Million Gross Value Added to the local economy. The master plan area as proposed would support 679 jobs creating £38.9 Million Gross Value Added (GVA) to the local economy.
For more information contact Marc Astley on 07976 203837 or firstname.lastname@example.org