G7 summit was excuse to fell Carbis Bay hotel trees

Claims that a Cornish hotel needs to clear coastline to build conference rooms for the G7 Summit have been dismissed by the government.

When push comes to shove will Cornwall Council simply roll over? – Owl

Will Humphries, Southwest Correspondent www.thetimes.co.uk

Carbis Bay Hotel has felled mature trees, cleared scrubland and poured concrete foundations without planning permission on the basis that development is needed for the summit in June.

The Cabinet Office has made it clear to The Times, however, that the hotel estate met all its requirements at a visit last year. Extra meeting rooms were not needed for the summit.

The council rejected the hotel’s plans three years ago for holiday lodges and a spa on the same strip of land because the development would harm the “beautiful backdrop to the beach”. The National Trust, which owns adjoining land, objected to the 2018 proposals on the “undeveloped coast” and has objected strongly again to the latest plans.

The resort, which will host the world leaders, has ignored calls from Cornwall council to halt its development until it decides on its retrospective planning application. It is not illegal to request approval after works have been completed but all work must be removed if the application fails.

The hotel submitted its plans in March after complaints. Local elections mean that councillors cannot meet to consider the work until after the summit of world leaders is held.

The hotel claims in its application: “Additional space is needed to provide smaller meeting room spaces for bilateral talks.” It said that the meeting rooms were needed to “enable the hotel to meet the accommodation requirements of the G7 Summit”.

A government spokeswoman said, however, that they had not asked the hotel to carry out any work for the G7. “The venues selected for the summit at Carbis Bay Estate and Tregenna Castle Resort provide the facilities required to host this significant international event,” she said.

Rupert Manley, a retired doctor, from St Ives, said that the planning system needed reform to make it illegal to develop an area without planning permission. “It sends a disastrous signal to developers that this is the way to do it,” he said. “This loophole needs to be tightened.”

Elise Langley, of St Ives, said the hotel was “obliterating the coastal woodland with no planning permission”.

Linda Taylor, local councillor and Conservative group leader on Cornwall council, said she “cannot imagine for one moment the G7 would occupy property that has not got full planning permission”.

“The last thing the Cabinet Office wants to be engaged in is a planning dispute,” she said.

“I absolutely support the G7 coming to Carbis Bay and I have every confidence the hotel will be an absolutely fabulous venue but we do have a planning process.”

Taylor said that following concerns raised by locals she requested the planning decision be made by a committee of councillors.

The hotel’s planning application for the meeting rooms appears to have been rushed, with it relying on an out-of-date ecological survey which Cornwall Wildlife Trust said could only be relied upon until January 2015.

The design and access document carries one error-strewn section which reads: “Thsi (sic) investment combined with the hotels reputation and unrivalled location have atracted (sic) internationsl (sic) renown to an extent that the Hotel has been sucessful (sic) in hosting the upcoming G7 Conference.”

Carbis Bay Hotel did not comment.