Former Council House Sales Could Fund Carn Thomas Demolition

school 02Money from the sale of former council houses in Scilly could be used to demolish the old secondary school building at Carn Thomas.

That was the suggestion put forward at the Community Services Committee meeting last week.

Members were told that an application to the government’s Homes and Communities Agency for funding to build at least twenty, two-bedroomed specialist homes on the site, for elderly and vulnerable adults, had been turned down in January.

Cornwall Rural Housing, the housing association planning to develop the site on behalf of the Council, had made that bid.

Aisling Hick said the scheme was deemed poor value for money because of the cost of construction in Scilly, adding that the decision wasn’t a surprise.

But she says they’d had good conversations with the agency about driving down costs and using other options, such as shared ownership schemes.

That would need changes to the planning rules in Scilly, she said.

Aisling suggested that money from the sale of former council houses could be used to “pump prime” the project, by demolishing the existing buildings.

Previous estimates have put the cost of clearing the site at somewhere between £150,000 and £250,000.

She says it would show Cornwall Rural Housing exactly what’s underneath and give more certainty about how much it will be to build there.

If a funding bid is successful, the Council will sign over the land to the housing association.

But Housing Officer Ian Hamilton says it’s a tricky site, covered by a Duchy of Cornwall covenant that enables them to decide the design of the building.

It also restricts use to educational or social schemes, although it’s understood they would only expect re-imbursement if there was ever a plan to develop the site commercially.

Ian says the housing association are in discussions with the Duchy’s Preston-based architect about what would be an acceptable design to Prince Charles.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough was concerned about this, describing the Duchy as “feudal.”

He says it should be the elected members who have the final say and he wouldn’t tolerate the Duchy dictating the design.

But Ian told him that they couldn’t get away from the covenant. The Duchy can veto the plans submitted by the CRHA, although they don’t have any say in the planning process itself.

Aisling told councillors that there’s definitely a need for more “lifetime” homes on the islands.

She said the current housing stock can’t be adapted for use by people through to the end of their life, because they’re old properties, “that are too cold and the stairs are wonky.”

She said all the research shows that people don’t need additional care, such as home helps, if they live in the right homes.

Around 90% of over 75’s can live independently and that will drive down the social care costs, she says.

Ian says he’s optimistic that the scheme will eventually receive funding.

18 Responses to Former Council House Sales Could Fund Carn Thomas Demolition

  1. Kate Stephens February 14, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    I really enjoy Nobby’s attempts to bring his pathological hatred of Mundesley into any story he can. His pucking of wild figures out of the air are spectacular. He’ll soon be claiming that closing Mundesley and subjecting young children to regular discomfort will clear the national debt.

    • Captain Carrott February 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Kate, I don’t think Nobby’s figures are plucked from the air, I believe it costs in the region of £125k a year for Mundesley. By the way Nobby you are spot on as ever!

      • JARG February 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm

        That would mean he was 25k short in his estimate, not quite ‘spot on’!

        And he has accepted that this money would be lost to the council in the event of Mudersley closing, so not quite ‘spot on’ with the statement that the money could be used for affordable housing either.

  2. Todd Stevens February 14, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Whatever goes there- its silly not to knock it down -its an eyesore!

  3. Nobby Nobbs February 13, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    If the council closed down Mundersley, then the £100k saved each year could be used to demolish the Carn Thomas site and build some much needed affordable housing.
    If the head count in the council was reduced by outsourcing services to the mainland, then even more money could be saved and even more affordable homes could be built.
    Just a thought.

    • JARG February 14, 2014 at 7:16 am

      Go on then, lets see the details of how the council save 100k annually by closing Mundersley, should be interesting. Of course this has to be 100k saved by the council, and can’t include any money from the Education Grant from the government (as that can’t be spent on anything else anyway!).
      I’m guessing you must be thinking of the weekly boat down on Monday and back on Friday! Oh and I suppose it will need to be balanced by any extra costs involved in sending children up and down each day, so good luck with working that out.

      Or was this just another rant not backed up by any facts?

      • Nobby Nobbs February 14, 2014 at 11:38 pm

        Ring fenced money has never stopped the council from shuffling budgets around when it suits them.
        As for the boat, the council pays for boats to each off island everyday anyway, so transporting the children back and forth would not be an additional cost on what we as a tax payers are paying anyway.
        So your point is?

        • JARG February 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

          Nobby Nobbs – “then the £100k saved each year could be used to demolish the Carn Thomas site and build some much needed affordable housing”

          My point was just wondering if your statement that closing Mundersley would allow the council to spend £100k on another project was based on any sort of reality. Obviously not!

          What I understand you to have clarified is that you want Mundersley closed down, this would then “possibly” save some money on boating, but you have not given any figures to back this up.
          The money from the education grant used to run Mundersley would be lost, and you suggest that the Council could still ‘shuffle’ budgets to spend 100k on Carn Thomas.

          So any particular budgets you had in mind to reduce by 100k?

          • Nobby Nobbs February 16, 2014 at 12:26 pm

            As I said before
            1. Just because a budget is ring fence, this has never stopped the council in the past from shuffling budgets around to suit their needs or causes.
            2. Boats; you are already paying for a daily boat service to each off island as the council transport, pupils and teachers to and fro every single day anyway.
            3. There would be no additional cost on top of what the council are ALREADY paying in boat services, because….. see 2
            4. Say Mundersley did close, and say the council did lose the £100k educational grant, would this be such a bad thing?, we as a community really need to start weaning ourselves off grants.
            The “I’m an islander, I’m entitled” attitude needs to stop and a more realistic attitude towards living within our means needs to be adopted.
            5. I’m sure I could reduce the wages budget by £100k

          • JARG February 16, 2014 at 10:49 pm

            Couldn’t reply to the post below so I’ll put it here.

            On the Boats I will have to bow to your obviously superior knowledge of the Councils boating. Very interesting to hear that they transport “pupils and teachers … every day” to “every Island”. Obviously you have thoroughly researched it and the times of the boats will be suitable for the secondary school pupils, so they will be able to catch these boats.
            I imagine you have also done a study on the numbers of school children and the average numbers on the boats so you know they can all fit on one boat. I also have to assume you will stop any extra -curricular activity for the children, as this would require extra boats and negate your cost savings. I hope you will be sending the evidence of all this research to the council so they can benefit from your wisdom!

            It’s an ‘interesting’ opinion you hold that turning down 100k of grant money for no gain is not a bad thing, but you are entitled to your opinions.

            I’m sure you could save 100k (or more) by streamlining the council, but that is a different debate. If that was your point why not just say that initially instead of dragging the “Mundersley Question” back out!! As you have now admitted closing it would not save any money, and would result in a loss of grant money for Education.

          • Nobby Nobbs February 17, 2014 at 7:42 am

            I was simply answering your questions point by point and now you accuse me of going off topic?
            Peoples inability to change and adapt to the times is the main cause of the islands slow but sure decline, which will continue to happen until attitudes become more realistic and we start cutting our cloth according to our means. Mundersley and affordable housing are two such issues that need addressing, regardless of how unpalatable that is, and I was merely suggesting that affordable housing could be funded (in part) by the redistribution of resources, ie closing Mundersley which could be replaced with an alternative solution, ie boating which, we are already paying for, its called maximising the return for the tax payer.

            Doubtless you will disagree with everything I have said and will continue to hold on to the idea that Mundersley is a sacred cow that must not be challenged in any way, however change is inevitable.

          • Fred Colon February 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm

            I’d like to point out that regardless of whether the money comes from Local, National or European funding, it ALL comes from the tax payer and if as Nobby states the council is already paying for daily school boats ( ie: pupils and teachers etc) which will be funded by the tax payer, then why do the council need to also pay for accommodation, again at the tax payers expense. It would appear to me that the council is in effect paying for something twice, both times with tax payers money.

          • JARG February 18, 2014 at 9:33 am

            Looks like the rest of Ankh-Morpok is waking up!

            Mr. Nobbs – I didn’t mean to accuse you of going off topic in your reply to me, I have long admired your way of sticking strictly to the point and never trying to hijack discussions for any of your bêtes noires.

            You have now acknowledged that the money for Mundersley would be lost if it closed and cannot be used elsewhere, when questioned on what other money you would use you said that it could be sourced by “reduce the wages budget by £100k”. Fair enough, I wont ask for your figures on this (though I’m sure you have carefully calculated it, not just plucked a figure out of thin air!).

            Given your statements, I wondered why you didn’t put them in your original post ie. “If the council re-assessed wages, then the £100k saved each year could be used ….. ” If that is accusing you of “going off topic” I apologise profusely.

            I haven’t stated any position on Mundersley (or anything else!), all I asked was for details of how the money for Mundersley could be used to fund Affordable Housing. You have clarified that it cannot.
            I agree that they are important subject that need discussing, that includes using facts not just making unsubstantiated, and sometimes incorrect statements.


            Mr Colon – As you say all the money originates from a tax payer, but the point in question was if the Special education grant money for Mundersley could be used to fund Affordable Housing if Mundersley was closed down. Mr Nobbs has kindly clarified that he does not think this is the case, so his initial suggestion was based on incorrect information.

            You say the council is paying for “daily school boats ( ie: pupils and teachers etc)” Is this a fact, or just a statement of what you believe? If it is a fact then maybe you can confirm that the current boat times are suitable to get the Secondary School pupils to and from St. Marys and there is spare capacity on these boats. If not then there may be a chance that the boating costs would increase.

            Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not to the facts. All this has been discussed to death before anyway.

          • Nobby Nobbs February 19, 2014 at 7:33 am

            Thank you for your apology,
            With regard to a boating timetable, as far as I am aware (with the exception of the daily Bryher-Tresco and St Martin’s-St Mary’s and returns) there is no time table as such, instead the boat is hired on an as and when basis, it just so happens that the boat is hired (@ a £82 return trip) most days to most islands.
            I would suggest that you contact the council and ask them for a detailed account of such activity’s and annual costs, perhaps via a FOI request if they don’t ball, which they didn’t the last time I asked, citing that they didn’t have the figures to hand and it would take longer than the ten hours allowed to collate the information which meant that I would have had to have paid £500 if I wanted them to do the work (mind you that was under the last regime) things might have changed and there may now be a more open policy as far as accounts are concerned?.

            It will be interesting to see how the councils policy with regard to boat trips and the pricing pans out now that the boat company has announced that it is to be taken over by Tresco estates, the owner of which is also a councillor setting up yet another ‘possible’ conflict of interest within our governing body.
            In conclusion I have to agree with Fred Colon who does have a very valid point, I also have to agree with you in that our conversation has go off topic somewhat. perhaps we should just agree now that I’m right as it will save us both so much time.

          • JARG February 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

            Ok so no facts about the boats either, ‘most days to most Islands’. You are saying if there are boats then it might be possible for the Secondary School pupils to get on them, but you don’t know if there are boats!

            But so long as you cannot say that these boats are actually running as you think they might be it is equally possible that the Secondary Pupils will need their own boats for travel.

            So we have now clarified that closing Mundersley will not give the Council 100k to spend as they like, and that there might or might not be some boats to transport pupils.

            I will not be able to agree that you are always right as that would mean accepting that your statements are based on facts. Something that has not been evident yet.

  4. Islander February 13, 2014 at 8:13 am

    WHY demolish a perfectly good building with all the facilities in place? A scheme should be encouraged to give locals in need of housing the incentive to build their own homes on this site.

  5. Mark Prebble February 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Perhaps a more balanced approach to the community’s housing needs might be appropriate for the development of Carn Thomas. A mixed housing development that meets a range of needs rather than a single use development would possibly provide more value to the whole community.

    Will there be a public consultation on this?

  6. Laura Yelland February 12, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Surely selling the older Council properties will open yet another door for more holiday homes, therefore lessening the ability for young locals to be accommodated. I am sure theDuchy architect will not make poorly designed plans. They must be sympathetic to the needs if such a place.