AN ALTERNATIVE to the controversial £110 million Coyte Farm retail development is to be put forward by a newly-formed organisation of business leaders, the Cornish Guardian has learned.
The multimillion-pound proposal on brownfield land close to St Austell town centre – which it is claimed will see the arrival of big name retailers, jobs, affordable homes, improved transport links and put local services in the "heart" of the community – is expected to be submitted to Cornwall Council planners later this week.
Together St Austell, which is spearheading the alternative scheme, said that unlike the Coyte Farm development the scale of their plans will not "suck the life out of existing businesses" in the town centre and further afield.
Opposition to the Coyte Farm plans for a 65-acre development nestled in 98 acres of green land in St Mewan, submitted by Mercian Developments Ltd and Metric Properties, has received fierce opposition from some quarters. But some have welcomed the Coyte Farm proposals, which incorporate a Marks & Spencer, Next, River Island and Sainsbury's. The plans also include a care home and hotel/restaurant.
However, Together St Austell, formed of St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Business Improvement District (BID), Ellandi – owners of White River Place shopping centre – along with CSA Architects, Colvase Estate, Broadley Park Developments and Westcountry Land, say its proposal will be more sustainable for the town.
The organisation confirmed that its proposed development will be a short walk from the town centre, or can be reached by a shuttle bus service, and will attract big name retailers – but has not said where it will be based.
John Kneller, chairman of the Together St Austell group said: "These are exciting plans that will secure St Austell's future.
"These plans are led by a team of local experts who want to see St Austell grow and flourish, rather than a single developer looking to make a quick buck from a massive out-of-town development.
"The Together St Austell plans make good use of brownfield sites and edge-of-town opportunities which can be linked to the town centre in a sustainable way."
The plans will be unveiled to St Austell Town Council where a meeting has been called to allow town chiefs an opportunity to reconsider their opposition to the Coyte Farm proposals.
The meeting – open to the public – will take place on Monday ahead of Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee determining the application on January 16.
David Pooley, town clerk, said: "The town council considered this application and opposed it in December 2012 but since this time the proposals have changed slightly and a number of issues have been clarified. He said it gives the nine new town councillors an opportunity to take a view of the proposal before January 16, and the public another chance to have their say.
Simon Hoare, spokesman for Coyte Farm, welcomed St Austell Town Council's move to allow new councillors to have an opportunity to review the application.
He said over the past 12 months things had "moved on".
He said there was now "clarity" into the proposal's impact on the town centre.