Mixed project at mine rejected on supply and prematurity grounds

The secretary of state has accepted an inspector's recommendation to refuse permission for the mixed-use redevelopment of a tin mine in Cornwall after finding that it could undermine supply of the mineral and prejudice emerging plans for the area.

The scheme comprised 413 dwellings including live-work units, 4,200m2 of offices, a visitor and heritage centre, a residential care home and 815m2 of retail space on 13ha of land. The appellants argued that the scheme would deliver benefits such as much-needed affordable housing, a purpose-built mining heritage centre and urban regeneration. The continuity of supply could be secured by moving mining activities to a different site, they maintained.

The inspector considered whether the environmental statement submitted with the application was adequate. He decided that the mining relocation was an indirect effect of the proposals and saw no need to assess the potential impacts of this activity on another site. However, he held that the methods used to predict visitor numbers at the heritage centre were crude, underdeveloped and inadequate. He also voiced concern over the appellants' ability to draft a condition to link outline permission to details of the scheme.

The inspector agreed that safeguarding access to minerals was an important objective. However, he was uncertain whether the unilateral undertaking drawn up by the appellants would ensure that tin mining took place on an alternative site because they were unable to answer questions relating to the timetable for relocation and whether it could be achieved. A suggested condition to link the schemes could not be defined in sufficiently precise terms to ensure that development plan objectives were met, he opined.

In terms of the claimed regeneration benefits, the inspector found no indication that early implementation of the scheme could be achieved. Indeed, the absence of more detailed proposals for the heritage centre meant that he could not be sure that its full tourism and regeneration potential would be realised. The benefits identified by the appellants were not of overriding importance, he concluded. Because approval of the scheme could prejudice longer-term plans for the area, he recommended that permission should be denied.

DCS Number 100-050-453

Inspector Simon Gibbs; Inquiry.

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