Ocean Bowl, Falmouth
We were originally retained in 2016 as lead planning consultants, in collaboration with Tristram Stott Architects, who designed a scheme to build a 247-bed student accommodation block on the former Ocean Bowl site at Pendennis Rise in Falmouth. The large-scale project, adjacent to Falmouth Docks, also comprised a gym, reception area, study rooms, and supporting infrastructure.
The site, which housed a bowling alley for 14 years, had been provisionally earmarked by Cornwall Council for student housing. Our planning team engaged in detailed pre-application discussions with the Local Authority's planning officers, who recommended it for approval.
The application, by Empiric Student Property Plc., went before the County's planning committee in November 2016, but was rejected by councillors - against officers' advice.
In Spring 2017, Cornwall Council amended its policy for student housing, and the Ocean Bowl site was dropped from its emergent strategy.
Undeterred, we developed a pared down proposal for a 190-bed accommodation block on the same site. We worked closely with the project's architect and planning officers to alleviate concerns about the potential impact on the area. Historic England and the county's conservation officer both supported the scheme. Again, though, county planners rejected it.
We appealed against both decisions, subsequently deciding not to pursue the larger scheme. The Planning Inspector found in our favour, acknowledging the dire need for purpose-built student accommodation in the town, as well as the economic benefits which would result from the development. The public benefits of the plan, he said, outweighed any detrimental impact it might have on the surrounding area.