Cornish coffee roasters ruining sea air, claim locals

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The outer harbour of Porthleven fishing village in Cornwall. - Getty Contributor/GETTY IMAGES
The outer harbour of Porthleven fishing village in Cornwall. - Getty Contributor/GETTY IMAGES

The Cornish area of natural beauty which encompasses Lizard Point inspired the author Daphne Du Maurier for more than 50 years.

But the whitewashed cottages and temperamental seafront written about in classics Rebecca and The House on the Strand have found themselves part of a new drama.

Residents of the village of Tolponds in Porthleven are demanding that the council wakes up and smells the coffee amid an escalating dispute with one of London’s trendiest roasteries.

They claim that the aroma generated by an Origin Coffee manufacturing site is so strong that locals can no longer open their windows to enjoy the scent of sea air.

Origin Coffee set up shop in Tolponds in April and has become one of the UK’s leading speciality roasters, after the brand was originally established in Cornwall itself in 2004. It has since expanded to encompass a flagship hipster cafe in Shoreditch.

But the Tolponds Residents Group has claimed that Origin’s facility, which employs 50 people, does not have the required planning permission for the activities currently taking place.

While Origin Coffee is currently operating under a Class B1 use of the building at Treysa Place on Tolponds Road, neighbours allege the roasting of coffee beans is not permitted by this licence and would instead need a B2 (industrial) licence.

"The odour, industrial emissions and noise coming from the after-burners and multiple flues within their roastery are in the direct line of several family homes, some less than 30 metres away,” the group said in a statement.

“Local residents affected by the industrial activity are unable to open their windows, sit outside or enjoy their right to quiet enjoyment during factory production hours.”

“The general consensus does seem to be that there are no issues”

In a strongly-worded statement of its own, Origin Coffee Roasters described itself as “disappointed” to note the discontentment of what it says is “a small number of local residents” about its newest development.

"In response to some claims made, we would like to confirm that we are confident that we are operating on a site upon which planning consent exists for the relevant classes of use,” the chain said.

“As a business we have invested a very significant amount of money and time in our roasting processes and a key part of this is to ensure that there is no detrimental impact upon our neighbours, particularly in terms of smell and emissions.

"We will work with Environmental Health wherever necessary to ensure all valid concerns are mitigated – although the general consensus does seem to be that there are no issues.”

Tolponds Residents Group said that it is awaiting a response from Cornwall Planning Enforcement, and stressed that it is not asking to remove Origin Coffee from Porthleven altogether.

During a public consultation into the proposals in October 2015, the Porthleven Harbour and Dock Company admitted there were “concerns” from a handful of residents around the smell of roasting coffee despite majority support for a new commercial development.

At the time, Origin Coffee said it would welcome any residents who were worried about the aroma to visit its then-Cornish base which was located four miles away in a business park in Helston.

Cornwall Council was contacted for comment.

Lizard Point and Porthleven are part of the same section of Cornwall's Area of Outstanding National Beauty, which also takes in the Helford estuary.

Daphne du Maurier chose Helford as the spot for her honeymoon in 1932 and the "strange enchantments" of the area are described in the introduction to her novel Frenchman's Creek.

Despite having been born in London, du Maurier lived in Cornwall for more than half a century and it is the location for the majority of her published work.

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