Hayle Townscape

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Public Realm - Streetscape

Background The Present Phase A Guide for the Future
The beautiful setting of the complex estuary of the River Hayle has inevitably been a major influence in the long, linear form of the modern town. The estuary developed around the confluences of the Hayle and Penpol Rivers and Angarrack Creek. Modern Hayle has emerged from Copperhouse and Foundry, independent settlements that grew up around the two separate industrial centres at Ventonleague and Carnsew which met at Penpol.

The impact of the two major companies - Harvey's and Copperhouse - on the port of Hayle can be seen in the extensive systems of quays, sluicing pools and other harbour works, most of which are now statutorily listed structures.

Unlike the Cornish Copper Company (Harvey's bitter commercial rival at the Copperhouse end of the town) Harvey's workforce for many years could buy their food and household goods only from the company's emporium in Foundry Square.

This constraint placed its mark on the settlement that grew up around the Foundry, as Harvey's workers could not attract the range of commercial shops that thrived in Copperhouse.

The shops in Chapel Terrace and Penpol Terrace came later, as the Harveys' grip on the local economy eased, and this is why they came to be built in the front gardens of the houses.

Copperhouse, on the other hand, boasts an easily recognisable, traditional shopping centre with a good number of original shopfronts still surviving, despite some disrepair and alteration.

The Cornish Copper Company and Copperhouse Foundry had an equally distinctive impact on the character of Copperhouse. Part of this difference comes from the close knit terraces of workers' cottages. Smelter slag, prudently recycled into large but regular building blocks, was used extensively in the construction of the revetments and quay walls in Copperhouse Pool giving them a unique appearance. This distinctive material can be seen in many buildings and garden walls in the town.

The rivalry between the two companies , which led to bitter disputes - even the odd pitched battle between their workers - over access to the quays, was reflected in the relative segregation of the two communities. Only in the late 19th century, with the construction of the Police Station, St Elwyn's Church, the Passmore Edwards Institute and the Drill Hall on what may be seen as neutral ground between the two settlements, was there a real effort to create a new community focus and town centre for Hayle as a whole.

The objective was to provide better physical and social linkages between the two settlements. This central area of the modern town - Hayle proper - represents an important piece of Cornish social engineering and the beginning of the long, and probably continuing, process of reconciliation.
Over the last few years, the Hayle Area Forum worked with local people, businesses, Town and District Councils and the Highway Authority to develop proposals for the enhancement of this complex linear town.

This work, which focused on how to enhance the street scene along the main thoroughfare was undertaken by the Forum's Streetscape Group. One of the key goals in this process has been to strengthen the collective culture and identity of the town without sacrificing the character and qualities that make each part of the settlement distinctive.

As the work of the Streetscape Group came closer to fruition, and funding for the initiative began to take shape, Penwith District Council decided to re-examine the conservation area . The original boundary was tightly drawn defining a small conservation area around Foundry.

In the light of the important findings of the Hayle Historical Assessment, a study undertaken by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit, the outcome of the review was the very significant enlargement of the conservation area .

Hayle Conservation Area now incorporates much of the harbour and pools complex, both of the old town centres, both foundry sites ,and the important late 19th century development along Hayle Terrace - the ambitious civic focus designed as the neutral zone to link the rival old town centres.

The Streetscape Group's long and short term proposals were put on display for public consultation in John Harvey House for a week in December 2004 and a further brief exhibition was held in January 2005 in the central Passmore Edwards Institute.

These proposals include enhancements to:
  • Foundry Square and environs
  • Penpol Creek Waterside
  • War Memorial, Hayle Terrace
  • Market Square, Copperhouse
  • Copperhouse Pool Waterside
  • Lethlean Lane Junction
  • Street furniture & Public Art
The public's responses to the Streetscape Group's ideas have been analysed and the streetscape proposals modified in the light the observations made. Choices must be made about priorities to attach to various possible schemes and how to fund them. As detailed proposals for individual sites are prepared further consultation will take place on them.

County Council proposals to realign the carriageway around the junction of Foundry Hill and Carnsew Road in Foundry Square (for highway safety reasons) were the subject of two public consultations over the last few months, and the concurrent works of enhancement comprising granite footways (funded by Hayle Townscape), new street lighting and new bus shelter, were carried out early in the summer of 2007.
The long term objective for Hayle's Streetscape Guide is publicise its proposals, guidelines and constraints and use them as a platform for further bids for resources.

It may be possible to adapt them to provide a measure of formal planning guidance that would allow Penwith District Council, as planning authority, to take them into account when considering applications for development that would affect them.

At present the Streetscape proposals have no planning status: but they can be downloaded in their present form through the link at the bottom of this page.
Harbour Proposals (ING Website) Home Download Streetscape Proposals