Eden Project founder's development plans for Cornish farm refused after objections and protest

  • Residents protested against the plans outside New County Hall in Truro

Controversial plans to build a new horticulture centre in a small Cornish town by one of the Eden Project's co-founders have been refused by Cornwall Council.

The new development would have included a cafe and shop alongside 19 holiday homes, a golf reception and 179 new parking spaces as part of a new car park.

The decision was reached at a meeting in New County Hall in Truro today (14 April), following hundreds of objections and a loud musical protest outside the hall.

Loud cheers and applause erupted from public gallery as Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit's development plans for Gillyflower Farm in Lostwithiel were rejected.

The plans would have seen the undeveloped farm become 'Gillyflower Farm Education Centre for Horticulture, Agronomy and Cookery'.

Sir Tim told Cornwall Council's planning committee he is "not motivated by profit" but by his passion for agronomy, horticulture and boosting the local economy.

Opponents claimed Sir Tim's "legacy project" would harm the area.

Some locals from the town, and Lostwithiel Town Council, complained it could "decimate" the farming economy there.

CGI of the planned accommodation units - The Drums - at Gillyflower Farm in Lostwithiel Credit: Cornwall Council

A woman protesting outside New County Hall this morning told ITV News West Country: "As a town a lot of us don't want this very enormous development. It's not going to help our town, it's going to hollow it out.

"That's what Cornwall needs, we need more inward investment into our community not out-of-town developments," she added.

Protesters sang and danced with banners outside the hall where the decision was made.

The meeting to decide the outcome of the plans comes a week after planning officers recommended that councillors should approve the scheme in a report.

It said: "The proposal would result in benefit to the agricultural industry by providing a platform for research and education.

"It would also introduce substantial inward investment for the area which in turn would result in the creation of employment opportunities and associated economic growth."

The planning officers did accept that by introducing buildings on an undeveloped countryside site, the development would damage some of the natural landscape.

However, they said that it would be "slight/moderate" and added: "This proposal will not introduce a feature which is overly jarring or dominant in the landscape."