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There’s been a bit of an atmosphere of ‘don’t mention the harbour’ ever since the potent and divisive controversy surrounding the proposed Option A development for Penzance Harbour.
The Council’s plan, known as Option A, was to seriously compromise an area of historic beauty and build a coach park in one of the most scenic parts of town – which they tried to push through at all costs without adequately consulting members of the local community. Thanks in part to protest but in reality mainly due to the recession, this pricey project was overturned.
The aim now, though, isn’t to rake up old bitterness (though if you want to read my feelings about it at the time, you can here) but rather to celebrate a promising new forum for development along the seafront, planning close consultation with local people. It goes by the name of the Penzance Seafront Forum, and it is organising its first public meeting for next Thursday, 17th November at 7.30pm in St John’s Hall. Spread the word.
If you can’t attend, but have thoughts to air, you are encouraged to email email@example.com. http://penzanceseafront.com
Last week I was airing my concerns over Cornwall Council’s plans for Penzance harbour on pasties & cream. Well, on Friday I went to the public meeting in St John’s Hall called by the Friends of Penzance Harbour. My attendance of said meeting in a dusty town hall bang in the middle of Friday night is testament to my love of PZ’s waterfront!!
Turns out I was not alone – it was packed. It got quite heated in there – well, you know, as heated as things ever get in this mellow corner of the country, ie clapping, a few ‘hear, hears’ and a spot of hissing. There was an overwhelming sense of frustration and anger in the crowd about how the episode has been handled – one speaker even questioned whether the lack of public consultation flouted the Aarhus convention (the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters)… to much vigorous nodding.
I took a few short vids.
Here is one deceptively gently spoken speaker:
And the lone representative of Option A speaking:
As a relatively new blogger, and not a political blogger at that, I have been tentative about wading into the shark-infested waters surrounding the proposed redevelopment of Penzance harbour on pasties & cream.
*braces self* As any Penwith resident will know, the so-called Option A, plans to redevelop large parts of the historic harbour wall and build a ferry terminal on Battery Rocks beach, has been the subject of very heated and embittered debate in Penzance over the past two years, creating the mother of all bad vibes.
At one point, shops were displaying their for or against poster in the window and in one drinking establishment, I even heard about an informal ‘don’t mention the harbour’ policy!
As you may have read, last week the Council waved through these controversial plans – despite the fact the only Penzance councillor on the committee voted against, despite the fact that English Heritage have upped the listed status of the harbour wall, despite the fact there are cheaper, less harmful alternatives on the table – and I feel I can contain my thoughts no longer.
In my humble opinion, there seem to be an array of Bloody Good Points to be made against Option A – all of which are expressed eloquently and reasonably on the Friends of Penzance Harbour website. But my instinctive objection is much simpler and less political.
For me, the aesthetic and historical value of Battery Rocks and the old harbour wall is priceless – and once it has disappeared under concrete and a noisy coach park, it will be lost forever.
Thinking about how best to go about this, my thorniest blog post yet, I decided that since so many words have already been written (even the national press and radio have got involved at various points), and since it is an exquisite blue-skied autumn day, I’d take my camera down to the area in question and photograph what is at stake. Here are the results:
I don’t know about you but I find the idea of losing these things really sad. I swim there in summer. I walk there most days. It’s got the best view in town of St Michael’s Mount.
If you also have an opinion about this either way (or even if you’re on the fence – there’s an ‘I don’t know’ option!), please vote in the online poll being run by the Cornishman this week – you don’t need to register and it takes a millisecond to click your vote.
And if you happen to feel the same way as me about it, you can also sign up for the Friends of Penzance Harbour email updates on ways to help – usually in the form of easy-to-send emails.