Plan for homes at former Callington solicitors site an ‘overdevelopment’

By Liam Davies   |   Reporter   |
Tuesday 3rd May 2022 6:00 am
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George Place, Callington, the former offices of Blight Broad & Skinnard which have remained empty since the firm closed in November 2019.
George Place, Callington, the former offices of Blight Broad & Skinnard which have remained empty since the firm closed in November 2019. (Tindle )

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Concerns have been expressed by a planning officer about the ‘overdevelopment’ of former offices of a struck-off solicitor and the abandoned patch of land behind them in Callington which could be transformed into up to 28 new homes.

Pre-planning application documents have been submitted for George Place and adjacent land in Callington town centre, yet the initial response of the planning officer reviewing this project is that whilst this acceptable in principle, the plans as they currently stand would represent an ‘overdevelopment’ of the site.

George Place on Haye Road, built circa 1850, is described as ‘once the property of a well-heeled professional’ which was occupied by the Mason family up until the 1940s. After multiple occupancies following World War Two, the building became the offices of Bright, Broad and Skinnard Solicitors. However the firm was closed down in 2019 when Nicholas Skinnard was struck off the Solicitors Regulation Authority register.

Guilfoyle Architecture, agents acting for applicant Mr M Williams, said since then the property had remained vacant and ‘an invasive species of ivy now covers the front of the building and ‘has begun to encroach the interior’.

The application site also contains, according to the agents, a ‘much maligned 20th Century bungalow’, which is partly built of mundic block, and the land attached to it.

Guilfoyle Architecture said: ‘The dwelling is of poor quality and in a poor state of repair and does not positively contribute to Callington’s streetscape or relationship to its neighbours. The bungalow is in the ownership of the applicant and forms a crucial part of this application. It is proposed that it be demolished as part of the overall scheme to enable the land beyond to be liberated, so that the land can serve the town in a more positive manner and improve what is currently a wasteland.’

One very important factor in the project is consideration for the proximity of St Mary’s Church which is at the centre of the design process. The agent suggests that opening up the western access to the churchyard through sympathetic development of the neglected land next to it could provide benefits to the community.

The plans for the site as they stand so far would include: the demolition of the bungalow, the construction of up to 28 homes, the redevelopment and extension of the George Place building to provide 12 flats (part of the 28 homes), removing pebble dash from the walls of George Place and returning the property’s front to a condition closer to its original look.

Cornwall Council planning officer George Shirley has given a mixed response to the pre-planning documents. His advice read: ‘It is clear that a significant amount of work and thought has gone into this submission, however, I do believe the layout presented has failed to properly consider overlooking and impact on neighbouring properties. I am concerned that the proposal represents an overdevelopment of the site.’

He further suggested that the applicant consider building fewer houses to address these concerns.

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