Monday, 9 July 2012

Just some Railings

I’m not a member of the planning committee of Penzance Town Council so would normally leave the members of that committee to make decisions without the dubious benefit of my opinion. So what enticed me to walk the 5 miles into Penzance and back on a wet evening to attend a planning meeting?

Railings, that’s it a set of railings.
The town council received an email informing them that some railings  where to be  replaced in Newlyn (South Ward and my area) and that the plan was to install railings that matched some that had been replaced a little while ago, also that some narrowing of the carriageway was proposed .

Now you would think that this email would have been from Cornwall Council but you would be wrong, it was from the contractor, an international construction management organization, and it was the first we had heard about it. Very kind of the contractor to contact us, but what about Cornwall Council?

Well, you may be thinking its only some railings, what can be important about railings, as with most things its context, this part of Newlyn is a Conservation Area and the railings will run the entire length of the road alongside the harbour, this new set will run for approximately 200m joining up with the previous 200m of replaced railings, so in total nearly a quarter of a mile of railings, overlooking the harbour.

The earlier railings where installed with no consultation what so ever, leading to an outcry in the village, totally ignored by Cornwall Council, so what’s getting people upset.

Let’s start with the design of the railings, I have seen similar railings in Birmingham alongside the inner ring road, now I have no problem with Birmingham (well I do, but that’s another story) but this very urban environment alongside a dual carriageway is where these railing belong, not in Newlyn.

As stated before this part of Newlyn is within a conservation area, the road as it rises up overlooks the harbour affording views not only over Newlyn harbour but across the bay to Penzance and across to St Michael’s Mount, it’s also the main route for people making their way to Mousehole.

The railings already installed by Cornwall Council are very intrusive, right in your face and dominate the view, they are just not in keeping with the local landscape, the wrong materials for a maritime environment, urban in design in fact just wrong.

But perhaps even more importantly, Penzance is home to the world famous collection of Newlyn School paintings (Penlee House), people travel from far and wide to view these paintings and visit the sites where they where painted, and the harbour railings feature in many of these paintings, (Newlyn Fishwives, Old Newlyn Harbour etc). This is an area of great importance, its one of the things that brings visitors to the area, it’s our heritage so don’t go spoiling it, think about it.

So do the current railings need replacement?  Yes they do. Does it require some thought? Yes it does. So come on Cornwall Council, do your duty CONSULT.

The outcome of the meeting was that the planning committee objected to the railings and would write in the strongest terms to Cornwall Council over their failure to consult. 

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