Porthmellon Innovation Centre Passed By Planners

What the new centre will look like

Councillors have praised plans to transform the former Wholesalers building into an Innovation and Enterprise Centre.

The units should assist existing and emerging businesses that wish to expand and develop.

Members approved the application to redevelop the unit, originally built in 1966, into 5,000 sqft of business space.

It has been unused since the Council bought it from liquidators last spring.

The Council’s Economic Development team put forward a strong argument for demand for the facility.

Three years ago they commissioned consultants to survey business needs and this showed around one-third of the 120 businesses surveyed were home based and 35% thought that their current workspace was inadequate for their work.

79% respondents said there were “no suitable premises” for their business or that “a limited choice was available” to suit their business need.

At the recent planning meeting, Councillor Marian Bennett pointed out that people had questioned the demand for the sports hall but demand had exceeded expectation. She felt people would ask, “how did we manage without that facility” when the Innovation was operational.

There has been interest expressed already from a local Cornish pasty maker and part of the development will be tailor-made for the golf buggy rental business that currently operates out of a unit on the lane to Moorwell.

Councillor David Pearson added that he was “very supportive” of this “positive venture” for the islands which would utilize superfast broadband.

David felt the scheme would prove attractive to business, “with all the mod cons of the technological world” and it would be “up to islanders to take advantage of it.”

PWBC Architects of St Ives have produced the plans. They have also worked on the Porthcressa regenaration and St Agnes Island Hall proposals.

The structure will retain the steel frame and will be extensively reclad, with an entrance through a glazed gable.

The building will be partly glazed to allow as much natural light as possible and clad using anthracite panels and vertical red cedar cladding. Doors and windows will be aluminium and timber.

Most of the 10 units will be on the ground floor but there will also be a small first floor gallery.

The architects report viewed by members pointed out that the estate shows “signs of neglect” that their rebuild would address.

They stated it is, “perhaps fortunate that the majority of island visitors won’t venture into the industrial zone.”

Landscaping will be undertaken around the redeveloped site, and the building will be a “lift” to the area, according to Craig Dryden, who claimed the plans were “modern and innovative.”

Marian echoed the Chief Planner’s view adding that the estate was an area, “of which we had felt ashamed.”

The rebranding of the area as the Business Park would also help improve the perception, she felt.

However, Amanda Martin felt it would help to remove the backdrop of the Moorwell Alp refuse site too, while David Pearson felt there could be some tweaking of the architects plans and he suggested they be made to look more ‘Scillonian.’

Members accepted the proposals after a positive and upbeat debate. However plans to include no parking spaces may prove more controversial when the site is open for business.

Chief Planning Officer Craig Dryden repeated his view, expressed during planning meetings outlining the new school that islanders should walk or cycle more.

He accepted that his stance may meet opposition but he feels that he sees too many cars driven around with a sole occupant. He’d like more car sharing and cycle racks will be included as a transport solution for the site.

A detailed plan for handling and disposing of asbestos contained in the building will also need to be agreed before work can start.


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