The tiny pods being set up to house homeless people in Cornwall
Cornwall Council has approved its own plans to install pods for homeless people in a Newquay car park.
The council is set to place 18 modular units in the Tregunnel Hill car park in the town, despite concerns about the loss of parking spaces in the tourist hotspot.
It is one of several schemes the council is doing around Cornwall in a bid to reduce its spending on temporary accommodation for homeless people. The council is currently spending as much as £40,000 a day using B&Bs and budget hotels as emergency accommodation.
These new single-bedroom units will act as “move-on” accommodation for people who have low or no need for additional support.
The units can stay in place for 10 years and were recommended for approval by Cornwall Council's central sub-area planning committee.
However, the plans attracted objections from residents and Newquay Town Council.
Matthew Hudson said he was representing residents of Tregunnel Hill, which is a Duchy of Cornwall development next to the car park. He said residents were concerned about the use of the car park for the units.
He said that the estate was designed specifically not to have on-street parking and there were concerns that if the size of the car park is reduced people would park on the roads instead.
Mr Hudson also highlighted that Cornwall councillor Olly Monk had previously objected to plans to build a care home on the car park but was now supporting the new plans.
Joanna Kenny from Newquay Town Council said the plans go against the local neighbourhood development plan which sought to protect car parks in the town as they are important for the economy. She criticised surveys of how much the car park is used being carried out outside of the school holidays.
Councillors were told that the council was looking to mitigate the loss of car parking spaces by redesigning the car park so it could make better use of the space and they said a planned park and ride service would operate next summer.
Cllr Monk, who is also a cabinet member for housing, said there is a desperate need for more temporary accommodation with 100 people in Newquay in emergency accommodation.
Replying to questions about whether any alternative sites in the town had been considered, Cllr Monk said that if there were other suitable sites then they would be used in addition to the Tregunnel Hill car park and not instead of it.
Cllr Monk said: “What is more important, 95 car parking spaces for four weeks a year or local people 365 days a year? Local people who are currently crammed into an HMO (house of multiple occupants) or a Premier Inn.”
Committee member John Fitter said that all councillors had compassion for those who require accommodation but he was concerned about whether the Tregunnel Hill site was the best one for the units.
"No one in this room is objecting to looking after people, I don’t feel any of the objectors are lacking in compassion," he said. "What we are saying, what I am saying, is has this application received the scrutiny that it deserves? Are there no other locations in Newquay that would provide an alternative solution?
"I haven’t received the answer to that. I believe there are other locations in Newquay and there are too many unanswered questions.”
He added: “I worry about the direction of travel that this application has gone, it is based on the one fundamental reason that people need homes. Of course they need homes but I do worry that that is the defining factor without the material consideration of other locations.”
Cllr Fitter said: “We are solving one problem and creating another. We will create a problem by using Tregunnel Hill. I don’t believe it is a suitable site.”
Councillors proposed that the application be approved as recommended by officers. When put to the vote nine were in favour and two were against.
Credit: Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporting Service