Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Thinking about Launceston's future

Last night the Launceston Community Network Panel discussed the future for the town. It was a discussion inspired by Cornwall Council's review of the Sustainable Development Strategy and the Local Development Framework.

It was a good event which forms a first step on the development process. In the near future we will get feedback and there will then be a first consultation draft of the document for the whole of Cornwall so we will see how Launceston fits in with the rest of Cornwall.

Among the issues raised were:

- Launceston has unrivaled access within Cornwall to the rest of the UK. Sitting on the A30 at the eastern end of the Duchy places Launceston at a great advantage. Yet we have not made proper use of this benefit to date. Whilst the precise nature of any development needs to be considered, there is space within the town for industrial use (particularly along the southern side of the link road) as well as land designated for more homes should these be needed.

- There is no desire to turn Launceston into another identikit market town with the same chain stores and little box houses. Development must be sympathetic to our existing character. That's not saying no to development and each proposal must be considered on its merits. But we have a unique character and should seek to retain it.

- As a community, Launceston has not been benefiting from some of the developments which have taken place already. Developers have been able to build hundreds of houses without contributing community facilities as many feel they should. Whilst there may be little that could be done for past building, we need to make sure that any future developments bring with them proper community buildings, open space and so on and also contribute to other projects that the people of Launceston want to see. This process should be managed as locally as possible and not as part of some huge Truro-centric effort.

- Whilst Launceston has its own benefits, it is also ideally placed for both North and South coasts, for the moors and for Plymouth. as such, it is somewhere that someone who wants the Cornwall lifestyle but cannot afford the prices of Rock or Padstow could look at living. This is an additional benefit for employers looking to locate here. We also have a workforce crying out for more skilled and well paid jobs.

- However, other than by road, our transport links are very poor. This particularly hits young people who tend to have to move away to study.

- With the promised roll out of next generation broadband starting in East Cornwall, Launceston needs to take advantage quickly. Dualling the A30 will be a good thing, but it will bring Bodmin and points west closer to the rest of the UK. Whilst the A30 is not likely to happen for a few years, there is still a pressing need for Launceston to make the most of its advantage whilst it still can.

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