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230105 | Bid to build tourist chalet on dunes in Cornwall leads to petition signed by thousands

Bid to build tourist chalet on dunes in Cornwall leads to petition signed by thousands

Plans to build a two-bedroom tourist chalet on the dunes - which is said to be a wildlife haven - have been lodged

Over 3,000 sign a petition against development on Gwithian Towans dunes in Cornwall
The image of Gwithian Towans showing where the holiday chalet would be built as featured on a new petition against the planning application (Image:

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition to "stop the permanent loss and destruction of dunes" in Cornwall after a planning application was lodged to build a holiday chalet on the seaside land which objectors argue is a haven for wildlife. Moss Rock Ltd has applied for permission to build a two-bedroom tourist chalet on the dunes at Gwithian Towans, near Hayle.

Davina Samann said on behalf of the company: "In 2021 our family bought Gwithian Towans. Having heartfelt multigenerational connections to this place, we took the opportunity to buy it as a way to preserve and protect an area we love deeply.

"The proposed chalet will help support the rural tourist economy in this part of Cornwall both through construction and during occupation, producing much-needed tourist accommodation in an area where it is required. The development is entirely in accordance with the aims and objectives ... of the Cornwall Local Plan, providing a well-balanced mix of economic, social and environmental benefits.

"It is also supported by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), that seeks to ensure a prosperous rural economy through the support of tourism-related rural development, whilst also balancing its long history as a leisure and tourist destination."

She added: "The benefits are significant and cross the three elements of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental). The environmental impacts are minimal and well mitigated with 100% of the net profit of the sale of this chalet being reinvested into the area to manage visitor, infrastructure and environmental management gaps in existing funding."

However, many local residents aren't happy. Of 76 comments made on Cornwall Council's planning portal concerning the application, 69 are against while seven are in favour.

Emily Brown is just one objector, who wrote: "Not only is this beautiful, natural land that should be clearly obvious to all with the amount of wildlife and beautiful landscape... but this is intended for a holiday home which will no doubt be left empty throughout many months, whilst many local residents are relying on food banks daily and simply cannot afford to buy homes here anymore."

Dr Colin French, author of A Flora of Cornwall, submitted an ecological report to Cornwall Council, stating that an appraisal by the applicant of the effects of building the holiday chalet on the area's flora and fauna - which includes bats, badgers, hedgehogs and nesting birds - was inadequate and "such a development would lead to the loss of further sand dune habitat".

The online petition, labelled 'Stop the permanent loss and destruction of dunes at Gwithian - 5th Jan deadline' had been signed by 3,115 people as CornwallLive published.

View of Godrevy Islandand lighthouse and the beach and sand dunes of Gwithian Towans
Godrevy Island and Gwithian Towans

Sally Foster, who set up the petition, said: "Many of you commented and objected to the Wave Project proposal on the basis of unsuitable development within and adjacent to a sensitive habitat environment that we love, support and do our upmost to protect. This development proposal is no different but will do immensely more permanent harm and loss to the dunes and habitat.

"Clearly this application is in breach of many local and national planning and environmental laws and directives. It does not comply with policies within the National Planning Police Framework (NPPF), Cornwall Local Plan (CLP), or Gwinear-Gwithian Parish Neighbourhood Plan (GGPP). The land being proposed for development is also a habitat of principal importance, protected by the Natural Environment & Rural Communities (NERC) Act of Parliament 2006.

"The Gwithian area provides an important area of biodiversity which is free from insecticides, herbicides and fertilisers and plays an important part in protecting our biodiversity. It is essential that none of this area is developed. This is the reason why we wish site of special scientific interest (SSSI) status for the area."

She added: "There have been numerous surveys carried out on the area of land that Moss Rock Ltd own including the Cornwall Environmental Consultant’s report for the proposal to build 8 chalets. This proposal has not been withdrawn and can it be anticipated that planning applications for these chalets will follow if this present application is successful?"

The petition features a photograph, pictured above, with a green arrow highlighting the approximate position of the chalet with a red line roughly indicating the area which in their summer presentation to residents, Moss Rock Ltd proposed to build eight chalets.

One of those who has written to Cornwall Council in favour is Julian Whitehead, who said: "Gwithian Towans is the most special of places and it needs the protection and care that ultimately can only be provided by a responsible and benevolent landlord.

On the assumption that the environmental assessments are professionally undertaken, that the results are satisfactory and that the national and local policy frameworks are adhered to with respect to this planning application, we support this localised development.

"Our support is given on the basis of the generous commitments made by Moss Rock in various forums that, in exchange for modest development on this site only, they will invest financially and engage with the local community in upholding environmental standards and in preventing inappropriate developments elsewhere across the Towans, in the long term."

Those who wish to let their feelings be known about the Gwithian application only have one more day to comment as consultation ends tomorrow (Thursday, January 5).


PA22/10476 | Construction of a single storey timber frame holiday home. | 112A Gwithian Towans Gwithian Hayle Cornwall TR27 5BU
Construction of a single storey timber frame holiday home.

112A Gwithian Towans Gwithian Hayle Cornwall TR27 5BU

Ref. No: PA22/10476 | Validated: Fri 09 Dec 2022 | Status: Decided

  • Total Consulted: 3
  • Comments Received: 145
  • Objections: 134
  • Supporting: 9
Reference PA22/10476
Alternative Reference PP-11650748
Application Validated Fri 09 Dec 2022
Address 112A Gwithian Towans Gwithian Hayle Cornwall TR27 5BU
Proposal Construction of a single storey timber frame holiday home.
Status Decided
Decision Refused
Decision Issued Date Wed 01 Mar 2023
Appeal Status Unknown

CPRE Cornwall Objection

Dear Diane,

PA22/10476 | Construction of a single storey timber frame holiday home. | 112A Gwithian Towans Gwithian Hayle Cornwall TR27 5BU
CPRE Cornwall objects to this application.

The proposal falls outside the development boundary agreed in the Gwinear-Gwithian Neighbourhood Plan and is development in the open countryside. It is a habitat of principal importance, protected by the Natural Environment & Rural Communities (NERC) Act of Parliament 2006. It is located adjacent to the Gwithian to Mexico Towans SSSI, Local Nature Reserve and Heritage Coast which along with the Hayle Dune System makes this area one of the most important wildlife sites in Cornwall.

We believe that the ecological surveys referenced are inadequate and fail to accurately represent the flora and fauna found in this area. Other '3rd party' surveys undertaken state that development in this area, adjacent to the St Gothian's LNR, would result in a permanent loss of sand dune habitat of principle importance. It is difficult to see how any amount of mitigation could adequately compensate for the loss of habitat in the proposed development site.
The proposal would not sustain local distinctiveness and character nor protect and enhance Cornwall's natural environment and assets according to their international, national and local significance.
The proposal would not deliver any realistic social, economic or environmental benefits and in an area saturated with holiday homes and campsites has failed to establish any genuine need for this single holiday home.
We believe that this proposal is contrary to policies 3, 5, 7 and 23 of the Cornwall Local Plan (CLP), and policies 8, 10 and 13 of the Gwinear-Gwithian Parish Neighbourhood Plan (GGPP)

For at least these reasons we respectfully urge you to refuse this application.

Yours sincerely,

CPRE Cornwall

William Corbett

Comment submitted date: Mon 30 Jan 2023

I write as a member of CPRE Cornwall.

I note from the objection lodged by Dr Colin French that one of the two studies commissioned by the applicant company from CEC Consultants in 2022 (referred to as 'Wyatt') was to support an application for 10 holiday chalets either to the west of Plot 112 A or possibly including that Plot. I note also that the applicant, Moss Rock Ltd, is a 'development company' from Bournemouth. This rather suggests that the land was purchased by Moss Rock primarily as a development opportunity.

If the present application is approved it will, as it seems to me, establish the principle that the site and the land immediately to the west is capable of development within the constraints of the Development Plan. Therefore one is potentially looking at a development of 10 chalets on the wider site rather than one chalet on Plot 112 A. This would result in the further erosion of the dunes at this point by Class C 3 development and this would seem to me to be fundamentally contrary to policies such as CLP Policies 2, 12 and 23 (both in landscape and biodiversity terms).

Therefore I believe the present application should be refused.


Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Comment submitted date: Fri 27 Jan 2023

As we have separately communicated to the Council Ecologist, Cornwall Wildlife Trust objects to this proposal. We are concerned about this planning application due to encroachment into sand dune habitat, a Habitat of Principal Importance for the Environment listed under S41 of the NERC Act (2006). We also have concerns about the potential longer-term implications in terms of the integrity of the Hayle Dune System County Wildlife Site (CWS) which falls immediately adjacent.

Cumulative impacts on Habitats of Principle Importance and County Wildlife Sites as a result of small -scale development is a particular concern of the Trust as this can lead to significant habitat loss over time through both direct impacts such as habitat loss and indirect impacts such as recreational pressure and introduction of non-native species. We do not wish a precedent to be set in terms of development at this location which will result in loss of an irreplaceable habitat, and which falls within the Cornwall Nature Recovery Network.

Relevant planning policy:

National Planning Policy Framework Paragraph 180 (c) states the following:
c) development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists;

National Planning Policy Framework. Annex 2. Glossary includes the following definition for Irreplaceable habitat:
Irreplaceable habitat: Habitats which would be technically very difficult (or take a very significant time) to restore, recreate or replace once destroyed, taking into account their age, uniqueness, species diversity or rarity. They include ancient woodland, ancient and veteran trees, blanket bog, limestone pavement, sand dunes, salt marsh and lowland fen.

Paragraph 179 of the National Planning and Policy Framework requires Local Planning Authorities to safeguard locally designated sites.

In addition, Policy 23 (3c) of the Cornwall Local Plan clearly seeks to avoid harm to County Wildlife Sites and priority habitats as follows:
Development likely to adversely affect locally designated sites, their features or their function as part of the ecological network, including County Wildlife Sites, Local Geological Sites and sites supporting Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and species, will only be permitted where the need and benefits of the development clearly outweigh the loss and the coherence of the local ecological network is maintained.

Draft Cornwall Climate Emergency Planning Document. Policy G4 states the following: Policy G4 - Local Nature Recovery Network:
Where development is sited within or adjacent to an adopted Local Nature Recovery Network it should demonstrate how the proposal will maintain and enhance the integrity and connectivity of the network and support the principles of the Local Nature Recovery Strategy.

The future integrity of the dunes system and the adjacent County Wildlife Site could be compromised if applications like this are allowed to proceed. We feel this development goes against Local Plan Policy and the emerging draft Cornwall Climate Emergency Development Planning Document. In addition, it goes against the principles of the emerging Cornwall draft Local Nature Recovery Strategy, one of the purposes of which is to help direct development away from higher value land.

For these reasons we do not wish to see this development proceed.





Over 3,000 sign a petition against development on Gwithian Towans dunes in Cornwall
View of Godrevy Islandand lighthouse and the beach and sand dunes of Gwithian Towans