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Planning applications on the coast

Cornwall Council, acting as the Coast Protection Authority, is a statutory consultee to all planning applications that fall within the coastal vulnerability zone.

You can check whether your property is within the Coastal Vulnerability Zone using our interactive mapping.

View our interactive mapping.

To view this layer, click the following options: 

  • Layers
  • + Environment and Planning
  • Tick the box next to 'Cornwall Coastal Vulnerability Zone'

Policy we use to assess applications

There are three policies which are relevant to planning applications on the coast.

The Shoreline Management Plan (SMP)

The SMP is a wide-ranging policy document now supported by the Climate Emergency Development Planning Document (see below). The SMP guides planning for coastal change. It sets out the recommended approach to managing the shoreline over the next 100 years. This is done by considering location, time and policy. The SMP defines a management intent for each area, over three epochs, from three options:

  • Hold the line: where defences will be actively maintained or improved (when technically and financially viable to do so).
  • Managed realignment: where we will propose projects to realign the section of coastline to a sustainable point or to accommodate coastal processes.
  • No active intervention: where coastal processes will occur naturally without intervention.

Find out more about the SMP

The management intent that covers your property will have an influence on whether we object to the application. For example, in a hold the line area there is a reasonable expectation of continued coastal protection, where it is technically and financially feasible to do so, over the life of the SMP (up to 2105). To be allowed, your proposed development must not conflict with the management intent of the SMP.

To check the management intent relevant to your development, you can use our Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA). Click the link below to open the SFRA. Click on ‘layers’, click the + next to shoreline management and then tick the box next to ‘SMP2 – SMP2 units’. These steps will show the SMP policies in Cornwall. Zoom into your development and click on the relevant line to view the policy. Links are provided to view the full policy and the following acronyms are used: 

Acronym Policy
HTL Hold The Line
MR Managed Realignment
NAI No Active Intervention

Find out more about the SFRA

On the 30 January 2024, the SMP refresh was launched. The detail of some policies has changed. We are working to update Cornwall Council’s interactive mapping to reflect these new sub policies.

Until then, your can view the sub policy for your area on the Environment Agency’s new SMP explorer.

Visit the SMP explorer

The Climate Emergency Development Planning Document

The Climate Emergency DPD provides a planning framework for planning in the context of the climate emergency. There are two policies on coastal change. These are:

  • Policy CC1 - Coastal Vulnerability Zone
  • Policy CC2 - Coastal Change Management Areas

The plan also makes adherence to the Shoreline Management Plan policies a condition of planning approval.

Coastal Change Management Areas (CCMA)

Currently, there are three active Coastal Change Management Areas (CCMA). There is one in Newquay, Looe and Perranuthnoe. These CCMAs are part of the areas' Neighbourhood Development Plans. You can learn more in the Looe Neighbourhood Development Plan and Perranuthnoe Neighbourhood Development Plan.

Newquay CCMA

The policy creates an exclusion zone around the coast of Newquay. Most development will not be supported in the exclusion zone, including residential, redevelopment, enlargement or extensions. All development proposals in the coastal vulnerability zone defined in the Newquay CCMA must have a coastal erosion vulnerability assessment. You can view a map of the Newquay CCMA here.

Please note, it is likely that more Coastal Change Management Areas will be designated in future. We will update this page when that happens.

How we decide what to recommend

All residential developments, unless specified by the applicant, are assumed to have a design life of 100 years, so we will consider the risk posed over the entirety of this lifetime. Where time-limited development is proposed, the applicant must include plans for the return of the site to its previous state (including removal of buildings and utilities).

We take a proportionate approach to deciding whether to support or object to an application. We consider:

  • the SMP management intent
  • whether the proposed development is in the coastal vulnerability zone and how vulnerable it would be
  • whether the proposed development conflicts with the Climate Emergency DPD
  • If stabilisation works are proposed, whether these are appropriate or increase risk. Stabilisation works must be supported by a hold the line policy in the Shoreline Management Plan.
  • For proposals in Newquay, whether the proposal conflicts with the Newquay CCMA

If we object to an application, we will usually provide ways to overcome the objection. We may ask for a coastal vulnerability assessment to demonstrate that the proposed development will not be at risk over it's design life.

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