Portakabins On Porthcressa Receive Approval

The Schiller Shelter at Porthcressa will be redeveloped

Controversial plans to place Portakabins on Porthcressa Bank throughout the summer have been approved.

Chief Planning Officer Craig Dryden told Tuesday’s planning meeting that six units were the lowest number needed to meet health and safety regulations during the Porthcressa regeneration project.

The 44-week scheme will rebuild the Schiller shelter, remodel the Bulb Store as a library and create 3 workshops on the current library site.

Craig said the islands were unusual in not having ‘permitted development rights’, the right for developers to install temporary structures such as Portkabins for the duration of works.

Such structures receive automatic approval on the mainland and there were very few local councils that have removed these rights in the way that we have in Scilly.

He said that the placing of the units would have minimal effect on the landscape or surrounding properties

Craig said the overall project will ‘”improve amenities and the general view” in the area as “some buildings are in need of a bit of tender loving care and are looking a bit run down.”

Councillors Fred Ticehurst and Christine Savill wanted a planning condition stipulating the total removal of the temporary buildings from the islands at the end of the build.

Craig said this could be written in and he reminded members that the structures would have to leave the beach side at the end of the works to allow for landscaping.

Some letters of objection were discussed even though they had missed the deadline for representations. Craig said he thought that was best so the Council weren’t taken to the ombudsman for maladministration and by airing those views “we are on safer grounds.”

Some second-home owners, including the owners of 8B Buzza Street, have complained that business could be affected but Craig told the meeting that the application had been made public with signs posted and letters had been sent to nearby properties.

The Council doesn’t write to second-homeowners at their mainland address.

Councillor Marian Bennett added that visitors to Scilly realise this a working community and they like to see these works in progress. She said, “Visitors don’t see us a tourist resort but a real working place.”

She warned that some second homeowners should ”remember the essence of our visitor business is different from the entirely commercial aspects of a resort.”

Council Chairman, Mike Hicks felt that, “local properties would get the benefit of what is achieved” and Kier were employing local trades so it was a “win-win situation.”

Marian added that communication was important now and this view was shared by other councillors.

Christine Savill said that school build contractor Kier Western, who will be undertaking this work, had an excellent reputation on the islands but their PR could have been better at the end of the school scheme. Chris added that she felt Kier “would go about this work sensitively.”

Amanda Martin suggested a sign board should be erected to explain the work.

Councillor David Pearson said that he had experience of the contractor with the school build and they had a ‘listening ear.’

There have been calls for replacement toilet facilities while the works are underway and Councillor Fred Ticehurst was worried some visitors might be “caught short.”

Former Planning Chairman Gordon Bilsborough’s letter of concern over the loss of the loos was discussed in the session and Councillor Dudley Mumford was unhappy at Craig Dryden’s ‘woolly’ answer when he was asked whether a temporary toilet would be offered.

He compared his noncommittal reply to that of a Government minister.

When pressed again by Dudley and Amanda, Craig said that he didn’t know whether there would be a loo but it was a priority.

Both Marian Bennett and Mike Hicks made reference to previous schemes, which have been disruptive over the season, although the sea defence work at Porthcressa and the off-island quays are now both recognised as worth the inconvenience.

Amanda added that any complaints could be answered by the project team, Diana Mompoloki and Sean Parsons.

She said the Council would continue to talk with Kier over a strategy to minimise disruption and was aware of the concerns, but hopes the project will be “for the greater good.”


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