Cornwall planning: Trelissick car park decision as people think there would be road rage

An artist's impression showing the redesigned main car park at Trelissick and the new car park for 225 more cars
An artist's impression showing the redesigned main car park at Trelissick and the new car park for 225 more cars -Credit:National Trust / Cornwall Council

One of the most contentious planning applications to ever be submitted in mid-Cornwall was discussed at Cornwall Council today. Concerns were raised that it could have a major impact on the operation of one of the Duchy's best loved businesses.

In the most objected to local application ever, the National Trust applied to increase parking at its Trelissick estate at Feock, near Truro, to meet growing visitor demand and stop queuing cars, which at peak periods during the summer are known to back up on to the B3289. The road leads to the King Harry Ferry crossing over the River Fal to the Roseland peninsula.

The Trust wants to increase parking by 104 spaces overall to 524, by altering the current car park to include 299 spaces and create an additional 225-space car park on woodland and orchard space on Dicky Lane on the opposite side of the road. The work would also include a pedestrian crossing leading from the new car park to the house, gardens and riverside parkland.

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It was the crossing which particularly vexed a meeting of the council's central sub-area planning committee today (Tuesday, May 7). Many councillors were concerned it would lead to tailbacks and delays, passengers and emergency vehicles missing ferry crossings, and even road rage from angry drivers desperate to get to the ferry on time.

Garrick Royle, managing director of the King Harry Ferry Co, said traffic flow monitoring undertaken by the trust was unrealistic and didn't take into account the number of vehicles leaving the ferry to drive past Trelissick.

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An aerial view showing the areas where Trelissick's proposed car parks and pedestrian crossing would be
An aerial view showing the areas where Trelissick's proposed car parks and pedestrian crossing would be -Credit:Cornwall Council / Google Earth

He said: "Our principle concern is the road narrowing with an uncontrolled pedestrian crossing which will cause massive delays and disruption to traffic accessing the Roseland peninsula. We also believe the crossing will be dangerous for pedestrians. Why should everyone passing the Trelissick site be inconvenienced by a dangerous crossing that the National Trust have pushed on with, despite massive public opposition?"

He asked for a bridge option to be considered or relocation of additional parking so that a crossing wasn't required. A number of councillors and those speaking in opposition, including Feock parish councillor Rick Bowers, suggested the plan for more parking didn't adhere to the National Trust's own green credentials. They argued that drivers should be encouraged to use park and ride facilities in Truro, with the trust organising shuttle transport. A park and float system using the ferry was also suggested by Cllr Steve Arthur.

A planning agent for the trust stressed that the plans were submitted after working with council officers, with the local authority's highways wing Cormac concluding the scheme was feasible and safe. The proposal was supported by Historic England and a Cornwall Council highways officer. Ten other options had been investigated but were ruled out due to loss of valuable land.

He said benefits included improved public safety and traffic management, a biodiversity net gain of 34 per cent, the planting of over 200 new trees and woodland, enhancement of the historic setting of Trelissick, allowed for further restoration and delivered benefits to the regional economy including the creation of seven new jobs.

Cllr Julian German, who represents the Roseland peninsula, told the committee: "Many Roseland residents are concerned about this application and I share their concerns. The fact that the King Harry Ferry is a lifeline service was evidenced through the pandemic when the council provided financial support so that emergency services continued to access the Roseland from that side.

"The narrowing of the road would cause traffic queuing. My concern is that would cause much more of a challenge than modelled. We all know that road rage is increasing and I worry what will happen in that regard. I also worry what will happen in that regard with the increased pedestrian / vehicle conflict that this will create."

He said the heritage assets of Trelissick create a "tranquil and unique place which relates wonderfully to its natural setting, yet what we're proposing here is the introduction of a resin mound table, rumble strips, kerbs and bollards, narrowing of the carriageway and increased vehicle signage, so the crossing introduces harm to the setting".

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Cllr Michael Bunney, who represents St Mewan and Grampound, went against the planning officer's recommendation to approve and suggested refusal, stating: "I love the National Trust, I love Trelissick as well and I completely appreciate the issue and problem in terms of trying to manage transport, but I think this is the wrong solution. The national landscape / area of outstanding natural beauty should weigh very heavily on us. I think this is a suburbanised element in a very unique landscape. This will cause problems in terms of queuing traffic. I don't see that more parking is planning in the right direction when it comes to climate change."

The majority of councillors agreed with him, although Cllr John Fitter added: "The National Trust is doing this because it's a necessity - they need to make the visitor experience a quality experience and this will improve it. We shouldn't demonise people in the chase for the climate emergency and say they should all have pedal bikes, come by boat or by shared transport. It is not our job to say to our visitors that when you come to Cornwall by car that once you get here you're not allowed to use it."

After a two-hour debate, chairman Cllr Alan Jewell asked for the vote on what he said has been the most talked-about application since he became the planning committee chairman. The application was resoundingly refused with nine councillors voting to refuse, while Cllr Fitter voted against refusal and there was one abstention.