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Heart of Penzance is falling apart – claim

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: July 26, 2013

  • Above, some of the empty shops along Causewayhead and empty premises in Market Jew Street, right.

Comments (11)

ACTION is urgently needed to stop the heart of Penzance from crumbling, a councillor has said.

Cornelius Olivier said he was shocked to see buildings falling apart and in desperate need of repair.

He believed it would take too long to wait for landlords to foot the bill and said the works should be paid for through cash earmarked for the town as part of the new Sainsbury's supermarket build.

"I was taken aback when I stopped to look at each building and see what poor shape they are in," said Councillor Olivier, who represents the Penzance central ward.

"It does have an effect – this is all part of the decline."

Along with a member of the authority's planning department, the Labour councillor walked around Market Jew Street, Chapel Street, Causewayhead and Alverton Street.

"We examined every building individually and found a very large number of problems," he said.

Rotting window panes, blocked gutters and greenery sprouting from cracked walls were all spotted on the fact-finding walk.

"Because of the perception of Market Jew Street being in very poor shape I wanted to make a start to improve the appearance of the area and then see what can be done."

The eye-opener also proved vital for buildings in need of immediate action. "There are several where immediate action needs taking as there was a safety issue," he said.

Mr Olivier claimed the state of the buildings was part of a wider issue of a downward spiral of the high street, but he believes a spruce-up would have a positive impact.

"We are in a cycle of decline and the more neglected things look the less people want to use it and businesses don't want to invest in it."

But one hurdle is persuading those who own the buildings to do something about the maintenance.

Mr Olivier believed the answer was to launch an action group, backed by a central pot of cash. He is keen to see the chamber of commerce, Penzance Town Council and Cornwall Council work together to find the money to carry out the maintenance.

"It is the responsibility of owners to maintain their properties but I do not think we can spend a long time deciding whose responsibility it could be," he said.

"We've just got to get it done."

He believes some of the cash could come from the section 106 money – from a planning permission agreement – earmarked for the town from the Sainsbury's development.

Praising talks to rejuvenate the high street, Paul Young, chairman of the Penzance Civic Society, said: "There are a lot of neglected buildings in Penzance. Simple maintenance repays a lot, just like the old saying, 'a stitch in time saves nine'."

Do you know of any Penzance grot spots that could do with a spruce up? E-mail your suggestions to rwhitehouse@c-dm.co.uk

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  • jimjams2011  |  August 19 2013, 5:50PM

    Dear Councillor Cornelius Olivier, How about either A) Reducing Business Rates, or B) Stop wasting so much land on supermarkets. Its not rocket science.

    |   5
  • josdave  |  July 27 2013, 10:57PM

    What many people don't seem to realise on the actions of the supermarkets is not only do they engage in unfair trading practices to remove the competition but the money they make goes out of the area to an offshore account to make sure they pay as little back as possible. All the money made by local traders stays in the county and benefits everybody

    |   7
  • Doitdreckley  |  July 27 2013, 6:37PM

    These days the planners and the councillors have no choice. Big supermarkets will have everything from planners to legal teams of their own and can chuck millions at getting a supermarket through, resources and powers that councils do not have.

    |   5
  • simondo9  |  July 27 2013, 4:01PM

    The last thing Penzance needed was another super market. Sainsbury's continues to grow between Tesco and Morrisons dominating and fast blocking the pretty view of Gulval to arriving visitors and replacing it with yet another homogenised place for them to stop and buy their food and with the profits to be shipped out of Cornwall in fact they don't even need to come into town at all, just head on to the holiday home. Aside from destroying the Heliport facility for the Scillies the doughnut affect has been known for decades. Even to laymen like myself its totally beyond my comprehension what goes through the minds of supposedly educated planners and councillors who are supposed to be acting in the best interest of Penzance when they give the go ahead to these companies.

    |   11
  • Doitdreckley  |  July 26 2013, 3:55PM

    Good to see that 'Truro England' is so patriotic he shops in Exeter! The main problem is changing habits: the internet, lack of time/other leisure pursuits etc. Town centres need to have a different role and its great to see the work box up and running in the old tax office. Again, part of the problem; take out oublic sector jobs (tax office and Penwith Council) and there are less people to spend money locally and less reason for people to come into town. Beverly can't blame this councillor as he is only just elected and it seems to be that Penzance Councillors are keen to DO something. Contrast this with the old guard of the 1980s who regularly featured in the Peninsula Voice (for those that remember that great publication) who screwed up Penzance with the sprawling mess of retail at Long Rock.

    |   1
  • Truro_England  |  July 26 2013, 1:52PM

    Unfortunately you not make people like an 'area' 'town' or 'city' and make people visit and spend money. I was born and live in Truro and have no interest of visiting most places in Cornwall to spend my hard earned cash, when I cloth shop I tend to visit Exeter. Maybe if planners asked what the people wantinstead of what they think, things could be different.

  • elleyc  |  July 26 2013, 1:31PM

    I think we need a bit more imaginative and creative solutions from our councillors than hand-out to landlords. Just as allowing yet another giant retailer to establish itself on the outskirts of Penzance does more to harm the local economy than it brings benefits, sucking funds out of the town and county most crucially during the holiday period. The statement the new building will make will say nothing about the area, yet it has been allowed to dominate the approach to Penzance and the landscape, competing with the Mount and town itself. It is no surprise therefore that the town is decaying. If the section 106 money is used for anything then imagination and creativity needs to be applied to investing in local schemes that are going to redress the unfair competitive element of these superstores.

    |   9
  • emurfitt  |  July 26 2013, 11:35AM

    Yes, take whatever money is available to renovate the town as a matter of urgency. Then do the sensible thing and claim it back from the negligent and greedy landlords who probably did more to put the tenant out of business than anything this hopeless Government has done.

    |   8
  • BradleyJJS  |  July 26 2013, 10:58AM

    I can see your comments are heart felt Beverly, but Penzance is not alone in its decline that is why we had Mary Portas running around like a headless chicken claiming she had all the answers, basically the bitter truth is there is no money, this is the truth they should be saying rather than filling people with False. But it was great to read some heart felt passion about Cornwall for a change, after a recent visit to PZ I was shocked at the decline and as Dave states the catch 22 you find yourself in, but I would take the Supermarket money and support the locals.

    |   4
  • josdave  |  July 26 2013, 8:55AM

    It's a catch 22 really. If the money for the work comes as part of the supermarket deal once the supermarket is up and running most of the local traders will go bust and the buildings will be empty. One thing the country as a whole does not need is one more supermarket.

    |   9