Cabinet decide to invest in renewable energy, housing and a key road project

At yesterday's (02 May 2018) meeting, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet decided to invest in bold initiatives to kick start housing, renewable energy and road infrastructure projects for the economic benefit of residents.

The Cabinet unanimously approved a £1.4m grant to the Eden Project to help fund a new “hot rocks” project near St Austell, which could unlock the potential for more deep geothermal power in Cornwall.

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The project, proposed in Bodelva near St Austell, involves drilling a well to gain access to the hot rocks below with the aim of creating enough heat and electricity to potentially power the Eden Project and surrounding homes. 

Cabinet members agreed to provide the £1.4m grant as match funding, subject to the Eden Project achieving £15.3m from other sources including funding from the European Development Fund.

Cabinet member for planning and economy, Bob Egerton said: “We know that granite in some areas of Cornwall has the highest heat flow in the UK – and the natural geothermal springs are rich in lithium deposits.

“If we can find a way to exploit geothermal power successfully, these hot rocks have the potential to provide Cornwall with a rich source of strategic minerals and renewable energy, as well as significant benefits to the local economy from jobs, research and investment.

“This exploration for geothermal power at the Eden Project is a first step towards testing the technology we need to help us to exploit geothermal power more widely across Cornwall.”

The Cabinet also agreed in principle to the Council taking a significant strategic leadership and delivery role in developments at Threemilestone where planning permissions is already in place for 2,700 dwellings but where no building has started on any of the sites.

The decision paves the way for further proposals to be put forward to the Council to purchase specific parcels of land and to bring forward developments on those sites. The Council will also aim to enter into contractual relationships with other developers who own land there so that the Council can masterplan the whole area.

Cllr Bob Egerton, Cornwall Council cabinet member for planning and economy said: “If the Council does not intervene, it is likely that some of those sites will start to be built by individual developers and we will end up with an uncoordinated series of estates without the appropriate infrastructure, or, instead, duplication of infrastructure, to the detriment of the whole community.

By acting as master planner, the Council can ensure that developments are coordinated for the benefit of all. For example, schools will be brought forward in a timely manner. We would also aim to avoid large scale, out of town retail developments that would impact adversely on Truro city centre. When completed, the development will be the size of a new town. It will be a town with its own local facilities but complementary to Truro itself. It will add to, rather than detract from, Truro.”

The developments led by Cornwall Council will be made up of a mixture of housing types, including a significant proportion of affordable housing, but also housing owned by the Council and rented at market rents.

Members also agreed to support the recommendation to joint fund phases two and three of the Newquay Strategic Route (NSR) with £8.7m from the Council’s Economic Development Fund Capital Reserves.

This will enable the access road for the major growth area to be delivered early by autumn 2020, unlocking development and creating new homes and jobs for residents.

More than £15m of funding has been already identified for phases two and three of the NSR. The additional £8.7m agreed today will help pay for the high infrastructure costs associated with the rail and stream bridges in phase three.

Cornwall Council planning and economy cabinet member Bob Egerton said: “Building the NSR will support the delivery of the Nansledan development in Newquay, creating up to 3,880 homes and 58,000 sqm of employment space to 2030 and beyond. This includes the Chapel Gover site which has planning conditions, restricting the development of 800 new homes, until the access road is delivered.

The route also supports Newquay’s wider transport strategy by providing a more efficient transport network leading to better journey times for drivers and reducing congestion for local people through the villages of Trencreek and Quintrell Downs. The Council’s £8.7m investment would support the direct delivery of the NSR. It is not a grant to Nansledan’s developers or landowners.”

Cabinet also recommended that full Council consider a capital loan of £7.1m to the Duchy of Cornwall to enable the Duchy to deliver phase 2a of the scheme earlier than planned. The Duchy has already funded and built the eastern arm and Rialton Link phases of the NSR contributing over £15m to the wider scheme. The Duchy of Cornwall will pay back to the Council both the Capital and the interest on the loan.

The Cabinet also noted the findings and recommendations of an independent report on CORMAC whose overall findings were generally positive and which showed that core business areas of CORMAC are performing adequately and delivering value for money. They agreed that an action plan be created to implement the recommendations of the report.

Cabinet also supported a recommendation to change the procurement of Public Health Nursing (PHN), which covers health visiting and school nursing services, when the current contract with Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust (CPFT) finishes in March next year.

The PHN service offers universal health promotion, screening, guidance, information and development review for every child and to every mother.

As the commissioning organisation, the Council completed an options appraisal which considered how the PHN service could deliver the best outcomes for children and young people.

Further work will now be undertaken for the PHN service to be integrated into a single organisation with the Council children’s services. There will be no change to current services under the current contract.

The recommended change has been the subject of broad engagement with children and young people, elected Members and strategic partners, including the Children’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the members of the Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee and the members of the Health and Wellbeing Board.

Posted 3 May