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Shops plan farmer slams town's claims

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 28, 2012

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THE OWNER of a 98-acre site proposed for a £110 million retail development at St Austell has broken his silence.

Farmer John Richards, 64, has lived on Coyte Farm for most of his life, but said he approached Mercian Developments Ltd as he is thinking about retirement.

Mercian plan to turn the green fields into a top shopping destination with interest from Marks and Spencer and a deal already in place for a Sainsbury's supermarket, along with 160,000sq ft of retail space.

But the plan has been met with criticism from traders who fear it will kill the town centre.

"The opposition [to the scheme] have said St Austell town centre is a vibrant, wonderful place that's improving. But I went into the town on Wednesday, December 19, at about 4.45pm and took some photos and I didn't get 12 people in them," said Mr Richards.

"Vibrancy? Where are the people on the last Wednesday for shopping before Christmas? The shops were absolutely empty. I only spotted two people doing business in the phone shop.

"This is not a vibrant town the way St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce and some town councillors are depicting it – it's a complete fallacy.

"That town should have been thriving – I bet Truro and Plymouth were."

The chamber of commerce and resident-led group Stop Coyte Farm have opposed the development, saying it will destroy trade in the town centre.

"St Austell has been trying for years to get Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer and now they've got them. They have said they won't come to the town centre," said Mr Richards.

He added that Coyte Farm was not desirable as farmland as it is too close to a main road.

Tom French, chairman of St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce, said: "You have got to remember who is making these observations; a man who is going to make a considerable amount of money out of this development.

"I'm afraid at 4.45 on a winter's night, after the school run, mums are worrying about getting their kids home and getting them tea so it's going to be a quiet time in the town."

Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee is due to make a decision over Coyte Farm and other supermarket developments in St Austell on Thursday, January 17.

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  • pilgrimboz  |  April 10 2013, 3:44AM

    why have all the comments been deleted and by who?

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  • forum  |  January 02 2013, 11:21PM

    Ellandi says they want to bring in national and local tenants well they have started off well a 99p store when we already have poundland they also say there are planning applcations for 23500 square foot of space. where to in white river place or are they referring to out of town developments by other investers. I still say coyte farm would be good for st austell , do you really want to travel to Truro or Plymouth for items you would only get in bigger shops.

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  • naturekitchen  |  January 02 2013, 9:37PM

    Mr Richards Came to town 15minutes before closing on a wet day and saw what he wanted to. His letter shows no consideration for his neighbours the local towns the community. Poor old Mr Richards it's very sad that he has got to his age and is so ungrateful about all that is good. People have been putting the town down for too long. If they made as much effort to be positive they would see all the benefits of not living in somewhere that is overdeveloped in the name of unimaginative convenience. If I thought this development was a good idea I would be embarrassed at mr richards display of greed, ungratefulness, selfishness and complete lack of consideration for the community.

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  • Ellandi  |  January 02 2013, 11:03AM

    We recently bought White River Place because we believe St Austell town centre does have a bright future. We could have invested anywhere, but chose St Austell for its potential. Turning around towns is not an overnight job, it is considerably more difficult than building boxes on green fields, but we have made a start in conjunction with the Town Council, Chamber of Commerce, BID, national and local traders. In September we halved the cost of car parking, this had lead to footfall incresing in the town by 15% compared to last year. We have helped introduce a loyalty card and free Wifi will go live next week. We are well funded and experienced town centre investors please see http://tinyurl.com/b36cu4y The next couple of years, in conjunction with other stakeholders is about delivering a vision for the town centre and securing the national retailers that the town deserves. There is 80,000 sq ft that can be made available in WRP and planning applications for 235,000 sqft far nearer to the town centre. These can and should be occupied first as they will complement the existing town not create an unsustainable rival. No one wants St Austell to stand still, we only make money if we make St Austell much more attractive to shoppers and retailers. Coyte Farm is will make the town of St Austell a much poorer place, which will effect tourism, house prices, local business and community cohesion, this is what has happend across the country from Margate to Holyhead. That is why we would urge you to sign up to the petition at http://tinyurl.com/adfjr4b

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  • kernewekonan  |  December 31 2012, 11:00AM

    i know neither mr richards or mr french. What i do know is that this world is all about money. mr richards is doing no different than i would do myself if i was in the same situation as him. mr french has said that mr richards is going to make a lot of money out of this devlopement. What is his vested interest in this? money has got to be the answer. Therefore how i see it is mr french and the chamber of commerce,[ look up the word commerce in the dictionary] are looking after themselves as far as money is concerned and therefore no one else comes into the equation. As pilgrimboz has said dont let a few selfish people ruin it for the rest. my conclusion is the chamber is like a teapot calling the saucepan smutty guts.

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  • chickendavid  |  December 29 2012, 5:59PM

    dream on if you think any supermarket has any interest in you your town employment or youre future.it doesnt let them in and the shops will die so will the pubs and gradually they will replace the people they promise to employ with self service tills,we live in torquay and its killed it here and we are lucky enough to be getting three more supermarkets,cant wait to move

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  • fullscott  |  December 29 2012, 5:27PM

    No, catweazel, I do not believe that the lives of future generations will be enhanced by this site. Quite the opposite. Shopping is not a lifestyle. If that's what people want, they should go live in London or Nottingham. This development will NOT attract industry and investment - Cornwall is too far away from the large population areas for the big companies ... and the only jobs it will create will be in retail. Not that there's anything wrong with retail (although I grew up in a shop and quickly learned that I didn't want to spend my life being treated like dirt by ignorant customers!), but it's not exactly well-paid, is it? I was a teenager here and like most of my generation, and the teenagers today, had to go up country to work and earn my living. Always with the hope that one day I would be able to afford to come "home". To get a job that gives them satisfaction and a decent wage, most young people will need to move away. St Austell has never been a rich area in monetary terms. But for Quality of Life, it can't be beaten. There aren't many places in this country where you can go down the beach at the end of a long summer day. By the way "Marj" (does she know you're using her name?), I am not a "nimby". I'm not in Trewoon. To be quite honest, diverting the traffic down St Mewan Lane would make my life much easier! There are, however, some things that are worth fighting for - and trying to stop the destruction of our beautiful Cornwall is one of them.

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  • mackerel_boy  |  December 29 2012, 2:11PM

    and before anyone writes nimby or starts whinging about lack of job oportunities for the young etc, i worked hard in a local comprehensive school and tailered my career so that I could continue living in the area - hence ive made financial and personal sacrafices. If you want to live in a county full of housing estates, shopping malls, motorways, increased traffic etc etc etc I suggest you move to the South East.

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  • mackerel_boy  |  December 29 2012, 1:12PM

    Hmmm, says a man who stands to make a lot of money! Let's be honest, Mr Richards is not selling up to a developer to benefit the local community, he is doing it to make a bucket load of cash. I am sick of hearing about developers and land owners saying they are building on green field sites for the benefit of others. It's plain and simple, you are doing it for money and greed. I have lived in Cornwall all my life and with the help from our local planners this once beautiful county is getting decimated with horrible housing estates, shopping developments and high density building (is it just me, or does there also seem to be a correlation with new high density building projects and increased flooding - hardly surprising). For once, why don't you land owners and developers be honest - you are in it for yourselves, no one else!

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  • mackerel_boy  |  December 29 2012, 1:09PM

    Hmmm, says a man who stands to make a lot of money! Let's be honest, Mr Richards is not selling up to a developer to benefit the local community, he is doing it to make a bucket load of cash. I am sick of hearing about developers and land owners saying they are building on green field sites for the benefit of others. It's plain and simple, you are doing it for money and greed. I have lived in Cornwall all my life and with the help from our local planners this once beautiful county is getting decimated with horrible housing estates, shopping developments and high density building (is it just me, or does there also seem to be a correlation with new high density building projects and increased flooding - hardly surprising). For once, why don't you land owners and developers be honest - you are in it for yourselves, no one else!

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