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Penwith District Council - Final Report


With the closure of Penwith District Council at the end of March and the end of my term as your district councillor, now seems a good time to give a report on major happenings in Hayle: past and future.  Although my almost 3½ years as a district councillor are up, I continue to represent the South Ward as a town councillor and I will be glad to assist with any council issues you may have. 


Cornwall Council took over the duties of the district councils from April 1st and elections to the new council will take place on June 4th.  There will be 123 councillors on Cornwall Council versus 89 on the old County Council.  There will be two wards for Hayle: North and South.  They will be larger than the former wards and will incorporate what used to be Hayle East.  Angarrack and the area South of the A30 will join the South Ward.  St. Erth will combine with Gwinear/Gwithian to form a new ward. 



  • Penwith remains stuck as one of the poorest communities in Britain.  Our average wage is around 80% of the national average and we have one of the highest percentages of self-employed workers – often an indication of under-employment. Our children have to leave the area to find work and we continue to lose major employers like J&F Pool and Rowe the Printers.
  • The key to improving this situation is to create as many quality jobs as possible. My view is that we must focus on preserving what makes Hayle and Penwith so enjoyable to live in, take advantage of funding sources such as Convergence and keep moving ahead with regeneration. 
  • The Wave Hub project will create jobs.  I sit on the Wave Hub Partnership Board and I have taken every opportunity of pressing for more of those jobs to be in Hayle.  The Renewables Business Park element of the harbour development is a response by the Regional Development Agency to the pressure to ensure that as much benefit as possible occurs locally. 
  • Also, when negotiating to find a solution to the old Hawkins Motors site on Hayle Terrace, I was concerned to find a solution acceptable to both Hawkins Motors and the people of Hayle as Hawkins has provided quality employment in Hayle for many years and continues to invest in the town. 
  • I will continue to press for live/work units and for the creation of business and commercial space so that we can retain quality jobs here.


A total of £4.2 million was spent by the Hayle Townscape Heritage Initiative to fund regeneration projects in the town. Highly visible projects include:

  • the streetscape improvements in Foundry Square and at Copperhouse,
  • the marvellous restoration of St. George’s Hall (once a cinema),
  • the major project at Foundry Barn (now fully occupied and providing numerous job opportunities), and
  • the complete restoration of the Old Brewery Office, now housing the town archive
St. George’s Hall following restoration

Less visible, but no less important, are the grants given to historic buildings to improve their shop fronts, roofs or structure.    Examples include:

  • the Passmore Edwards Institute which benefited from a grant that enabled the badly-needed restoration of the 108 year-old slate roof and gutters – securing the building for another hundred years. 
  • Bigglestone’s store which also got a new slate roof.

For the future, there are some exciting projects that I strongly support.  Loggans Mill is the largest listed building in Cornwall and, restored, would make an eye-catching entrance to Hayle.  The land adjacent to the mill has been purchased by Montgomery Property Group and they have drawn up plans to build a science park and hotel adjacent to the mill and to restore the mill for commercial use.  About 800 high-quality jobs would be created and I have been actively supporting this project.  There are other projects in the works for Marsh Lane and Copperhouse but they have not yet been made public.



Some of the major problems of recent years include:

  • the threat to St. Michael’s Hospital,
  • the issue of the old Hawkins Motor Site,
  • Marks & Spencer and
  • the effects of the Regional Spatial Strategy.

Following the extremely well-supported march in August 2006 (I was the march coordinator) there was a major change in strategy (and management!) by the RCHT and things started to improve for both St. Michael’s and the West Cornwall Hospitals. The appointment of John Watkinson as Chief Executive of the RCHT heralded a new era. Unfortunately, Mr. Watkinson was suspended in October 2008 and has yet to be reinstated. I have written supporting Mr. Watkinson’s work in West Cornwall.
After talks stalled between PDC and Hawkins Motors over the old site on Hayle Terrace, I proposed that Hayle Town Council try to broker an agreement and, when this was approved, became part of the team. Ultimately this led to a compromise agreement where 6 houses would be built and a portion of the site would be given to the town as permanent open space. The original requirement that a minimum of 26 affordable houses be built on the site was opposed by town’s people in a parish poll and also did not comply with PDC’s own planning policies. The compromise agreement has been endorsed by the Hayle Residents Association (that organised the Parish Poll) and by the Hayle and District Chamber of Commerce.

The Passmore Edwards Institute received a £36,000 grant
to renovate the 108-year old slate roof and gutters.

Development at the West Cornwall Retail Park was stalled for a number of reasons: traffic, parking and county and regional planning policies.  As both a town and district councillor I pressed hard for the County Council to compromise and the Government Office South West did not exercise its powers to prevent planning being passed by PDC.  The county was right about one thing, however, there are not enough parking places!


One document that will affect Hayle and Cornwall drastically over the next two decades is the Regional Spatial Strategy.  It limits the growth that Hayle can have in jobs and business while at the same time imposing unrealistically high targets for new homes.  Hayle alone is expected to build between 3,250 and 3,900 new dwellings over the next twenty years – effectively doubling our size.  Without a huge increase in jobs we will become a dormitory town.  I made strong representations about the RSS to PDC resulting in great efforts being made to modify it.  Although modest improvements were made they were not, in my view, sufficient.  More work must be done on this.


With the harbour development and pressure to continue development at Marsh Lane (both Asda and Sainsbury have expressed interest – look for a Sainsbury exhibition at the Passmore Edwards Institute soon) we also need to protect what is precious to us.  Local Plan policy TV2 protects both Phillack and Angarrack from encroachment and, although we allowed a relaxation of TV2 behind Clifton Terrace as part of the price for the harbour development, we need to ensure that these villages retain their natural character and are not absorbed into one large urban area.



Regeneration of Hayle Harbour is long overdue and we anxiously awaited the ING plans.  When analysed in detail, though, there was an over-emphasis on houses (with fewer than the required number of affordable dwellings), loss of precious, protected greenfield sites, major problems with traffic and no immediate repairs to the worst damaged parts of South Quay.  With 1,039 dwellings planned, the number of jobs to be created would barely supply those needed for the new occupants.

I have worked hard with PDC officers to try to address as many of the issues as is practical with the hope of achieving a development that the people of Hayle will welcome and that is still viable for ING.  At the planning meeting that finally approved the Outline Planning Application, the Head of Sustainable Development, Matt Barton, praised the role of Hayle Ward councillors in improving the plans through a series of meetings with the applicant and officers. 

We have certainly gained some important concessions, including early repair of the South Quay breach, and I will continue to press for resolution to some of the other problems – chief among these being traffic issues.



The whole issue of fire service for Hayle is a sorry tale.  The County Council has earmarked a sum of money for a fire station but cutbacks and poor management of the Fire Service led to a threatened reduction in cover at Camborne – let alone improved service in Hayle.  We summoned the County Council portfolio holder, Kenneth Yeo, and the Chief Fire Officer, Matt Littmoden, to a town council meeting and they received a very tough grilling.  Mr. Littmoden has since resigned and the threatened cuts in the 24-hour cover at Camborne have been revoked – at least for the moment.  A practically useless Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) was produced but I have asked for the detailed risk analysis that determines how quickly incidents can be responded to in our area.  At present, ING has declined to provide a location for a fire station in the harbour area. I continue to press for a solution to this potentially life-threatening issue.

The Fire Brigade visits Hayle


I have worked with the officers at Penwith to implement the government’s strategy on play space for children.  At present, the whole area to the north of Water Lane is completely devoid of safe, open areas for children to play and a number of options have been attempted – so far without success.  If nothing else, we must ensure that planning permission is never given to estates without appropriate open areas being available.  Some success was achieved by putting a youth shelter in Ellis Park.  Although there were fears of noise and vandalism, police report that the project was a success in reducing incidents in the area.  This will lead to the installation of play equipment for younger children.

Almost three years ago I submitted an application to register the land between Hayle Terrace and the railway station as a village green – thus protecting it from development and making it available forever to the people of Hayle.  There have been a number of technical issues but the application is still active.  Also, as a part of the harbour development, ING has proposed that the land will be a footpath to the station.  Either way, it should remain open to the public.

The Youth Shelter installed at Ellis Park



I am now deputy mayor of Hayle and also chairman of the town council’s Development Committee, which focuses on long term plans and policies.  I sit on the Hayle Harbour Advisory Committee, which represents the users of the harbour and estuary,  and I am chairman of the Hayle Area Plan Partnership Heritage, Culture and Environment delivery group which focuses on regeneration and environmental projects in the area, and I am a trustee and director of Harvey’s Foundry Trust, which is now focussed on Phase III of the Foundry regeneration.  I also support the very successful Hayle in Bloom (we are in the national competition this year), and I produce the portfolio given to the judges and designed and manage the www.hayleinbloom.org.uk web site.  I have also enjoyed being a governor of the marvellous Penpol School – which I am assisting with their parking and planning issues - as well as a supporter of the outstanding Hayle Children’s Centre at Bodriggy. 

As treasurer of the Passmore Edwards Institute I wrote the grant application and 10-year plan that resulted in a £36,000 grant enabling the 110 year-old roof to be renovated and insulated and I have been successful in half a dozen other applications resulting in grants of £12,000 to enable renovation of the old billiard room and creation of the fully-restored Denis Hollow room.  Through these and other activities I have tried to contribute to the well-being of Hayle and its residents and intend to continue to do so.



I have tried very hard during the last four years to both communicate to my constituents and to be easy to reach.  I am the only councillor in Penwith to provide a regularly updated web site specifically for constituents, I send out email news alerts to those who have signed up and I put information on major items in this site.  There is even a Twitter feed that you can sign up to if you want to hear important news first.  You can also get hold of me easily by phone and mobile.



I have pressed the Highways Agency for a junction on the A30 at Tolroy – vital to reducing the heavy vehicle traffic passing through the town.  And I am looking at the possibility of setting up a community cinema in Hayle (if you like the idea or would like to help, please contact me).  I also support roofing the town swimming pool and heating the water and I am behind plans to build a sports and community hall in the town.


Please contact me at any time - I look forward to hearing from you.



Please contact me if you need any advice or help with council services. 

John Bennett, 01736-753184


Email me with your thoughts, suggestions, comments or questions


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