THE PEOPLE of St Austell have spoken – nearly three quarters of those who voted in the Cornish Guardian's poll do not want a major out-of-town retail development built at Coyte Farm.
Almost 1,200 people voted through our postal and online poll, with 72.5 per cent against it.
The news comes as developer Mercian Developments Ltd announced it would give £60,000 per year to St Austell's Business Improvement District (BID) if its scheme goes ahead.
But St Austell BID chairman Chris Witt, one of the campaigners against Coyte Farm, declared: "St Austell is not for sale."
"The amount of money involved is irrelevant and we would reject it out of hand. We don't want their money, we want them stopped," he said. "They are going to suck millions out of St Austell town centre. It would destroy it."
The BID would use money from a 1 per cent levy on business rates in a set area for projects to improve the town.
Businesses in the town are due to vote on the BID in February.
Mercian said it would provide the money as part of the application's Section 106 agreement – to offset the impact of its development on infrastructure.
Simon Hoare, from Mercian, said: "The poll certainly doesn't mirror our consultation responses and is 1,184 people from a town the size of St Austell with its surrounding villages as well, a representative sample?
"Planning applications are not determined by weights of numbers. A bad point made by a majority of people doesn't make it a good point. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce chairman Tom French said in response to the poll results: "It's very good of the Cornish Guardian to do an independent referendum or survey on how people feel and it's very interesting that they have come up with 75 per cent in favour of stopping Coyte Farm.
"We would expect the traders to be against it but it's reassuring to know the public are also behind us."
A planning application for the £110 million proposed development was submitted last month.
It outlines ambitions for a Sainsbury's superstore, 160,000sq ft shopping park, care home, pub and up to 250 homes – 30 per cent of them affordable.
Controversially, it would have more retail floor space than all St Austell's town- centre shops combined.
Mercian said the development would provide more than 1,000 jobs but Mr Hoare maintained that Coyte Farm would not be a threat to the town centre.
"The units proposed at Coyte Farm would be too large for traditional town centre retailers to come into. We are going for the larger retailers who can't find any space in the town centre."
St Austell Town Council are due to form a response to the application at a meeting on Tuesday, December 11, and said they would take the results of this newspaper's poll into account.
St Austell Town Council clerk David Pooley said: "The town council notes the results of the Cornish Guardian poll with interest.
"Members of the public will also have an opportunity to make their view known at its meeting on December 11."
A fourth supermarket and development concept is due to be revealed this week as an alternative to Coyte Farm. See next week's edition for the full story.