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Discussion in 'Constructions, demolitions and fires' started by Halfhidden, Apr 17, 2016.

By Halfhidden on Apr 17, 2016 at 3:04 PM
  1. Halfhidden

    Halfhidden Untouchable Staff Member Administrator

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    On 12th September 1878 a report of the Improvement Committee on the plan for making a 40 feet wide road from directly opposite the Public Buildings, through Buriton Row and North Parade, down the 2000 feet through the Morrab Fields (thus opening a valuable piece of building ground) and on through to Marine Terrace to the Esplanade.

    Alderman Blackwell, having read the report, and said the Committee did not mean to say, by the expression carry out on the approaches to the new road across the Morrab Fields must be completed within seven years, that they were going to shelve the question. It must take a considerable time to build the houses on the ground about to be opened up, and seven years was the maximum period over which the completion and the improvement was to be earned.

    Councillor Runnalls wished for some explanation about the seven years. Was the whole thing to stand over for seven years, supposing the present plans passed, or would they open the road before those seven years elapsed? Supposing the building site in the centre, the first great thing was to construct the road —not to put up houses first and make the road afterwards because, with a road, prospective builders could see what sort of place the site was, and the value of the land must be enhanced, since it is so desirable for all parties to have easy access to houses. Looking at the -uncertainty of seven years, if the Council could now agree on the precise spot for a road he would rather see one at once constructed.

    Mr. Blackwell said the Committee took that view but felt bound to consider how best to ease off the rates. If they opened the road, immediately, at both ends, not only must they be unassisted rates from the proposed new buildings but lose a large amount of rating from the houses which now pay rates and are requisite for the approaches. If, for the present, such entrance to the land was feasible as would carry building material, without touching the inhabited houses, and in that time a great number of valuable houses were built, they must ease off a 3d. or 4d. rate, which we all considered advisable.

    Alderman James remarked that it was a question which, in his opinion, ought not to be hastily passed over. And it had received the most earnest and the closest attention of the Committee for many hours. In the first place it was conceded by everybody in the Committee that it was most desirable and that there should be a road in direct communication between the Buildings and the Esplanade. And, after the most mature deliberation over the plans proposed during the last seven years for the best road, there was not the slightest doubt in the mind of any one that the road laid down in the plan before them, with slight modifications, is the one they would like to have. Only one other plan came into competition with it—it was that which utilized the present opening in North Parade and connected itself with the thoroughfare now existing between Mrs. Lavin's Mount's Bay House and Marine Terrace. That was the plan which would come near this. But when they went, approximately, into details, the difference in expense between the recommended plan and the other was so trifling as not all to cause them to give up the best of the plans before the Committee. The next question was the one of expense. Though no sum had been named today this road would probably cost a very serious amount, if expended in the ordinary way, and if not laid out with prospect of a very considerable compensation in rates. In general terms it might be stated that calculations gave a compensation way of increased rateable value which would ultimately very nearly amount to a sum equal to the interest of the money to be laid out by this Council for the approaches. If there was not some probability of a considerable approach to that return the Committee would not be warranted in recommending the plan. The approach to the plot was now by three ways—Park Corner, South Parade, and Marine Terrace. The Fields already had these three entrances; and, whilst these approaches might be sufficiently opened up for building purposes and to lead to the road to be laid down in the Fields, for all houses to be built cannot be fully occupied for some years, the Council need not incur the whole expense of the approaches at once. In addition to the expense it was unnecessary to take down inhabited houses any sooner than needed, though the property might be acquired at any convenient time by negotiation or compulsory power. The Council need not run the risk of losing the rents of houses to be taken for road purposes until they are really needed. The probable cost of the road would be somewhere about £6,000; but a connection between Alverton and the Esplanade would be much resorted to and result in a great deal of public comfort and convenience; and, looking to this very considerable sum, it was not until protracted discussion and careful examination that the Improvement Committee decided to recommend the plan to the Council.

    Councillor Victor observed that they might borrow the money at 3 ¼ per cent, and the repayment of principal and interest involved about 7 ½ per cent, per annum. The cost being £6000 if they paused for seven years they would be spared the payment of £2800 until a larger amount of new property was ready to take its share of the burden. That was a very considerable item. The road could not be remunerative at first, if made in its entirety; but the object of the Council was that, as soon the road is made, the buildings should assist the rates.

    Mr Rossitter thought the experience of Alexandra Road ought to warn them against too great expectations of what buildings might be expected that was going to be built on promptly but, after 12 years, they saw only a house or two. Perhaps it might be so in this case. They did not want a road straight down the hill; on the contrary, a more pleasant and quite as thoroughfare could be gently curved; but to put a 3d. rate on the town just at present for any road was a very wrong thing indeed. any persons preferred a zigzag or a winding road. That depended, however, on taste, and led to the inquiry—what sort of houses are to be built and why have a road as 44 feet, a thoroughfare spacious enough for Piccadilly, 44 feet was much too wide.

    A Councillor: —There is to be a footpath on either side.

    The Mayor thought a road could be designed which would approach Mr. Rossiter's views.

    Alderman York said he was not a member of the Improvement Committee, but had taken a great interest this question, and he fancied that the Committee did not contemplate a very serious outlay at present indeed not until new houses were paying rents and rates. Queen Street was a different question altogether to this. The great want was that parts of the town should be opened up whereon nice villas could be erected. Everyone says that such houses are the great want of Penzance. Queen Street and its reconstruction was quite another subject and referred to a different class of houses, and was a different gradient, See. One of the heads the Great Western Railway said very recently "Your great want in Penzance is residences and houses for strangers; we hear from several of our authorities ' People may go to Penzance, but there are no houses to be had there, while at Torquay and other places on the line there are good and varied classes of houses, a very great number of which are available for people to live in.'" The two schemes of Morrab Fields and Queen Street, therefore, should be aimed at entirely different objects; and if they left the heaviest part of the expenditure until seven years, and in the meantime part of the building site is used, the thing became feasible.

    Alderman Boase liked the middle of the plan but did not approve so much of the two ends. Nor could he agree that a narrow road is the cheapest and the best.
    Mr. Boase called a 30-feet road a narrow one, for the Alexandra Road was 50-feet wide, though there was a grand battle to get the thoroughfare that width and to secure two pathways, and he only did not ask for a larger than a 40-feet road in this case simply because he did not think it fair to ask the owner of valuable building ground to give the public more than 40-feet of his land. At the two ends of the proposed road should be preferred to utilize streets already in existence, and to see a road with a sweep or a bend, or two in it rather than a straight one. For instance, he much preferred Regent-street to Oxford-street—the sweep instead of the straight. By taking away the " Swan or the property on the other side a fine north end to the proposed road and a spacious entrance to the North Parade could be provided; and, probably, a row of shops there would almost recoup the Council for their outlay. Then, by a bold sweep of the road, opening up a pretty view, Morrab Fields could be traversed, and the carriage drive and footpath continued down to Brighton-terrace and out in to the Esplanade by Mrs. Lavin’s. Did they pledge themselves today to the one particular road laid down in the plan?

    Alderman James :—It looks very much like it, since the Report said a straight line from the centre of the Public Buildings the Esplanade.
    Alderman Boase :—Then I cannot vote for it and I say so at once and straightforwardly. You bind yourselves to the straight road.
    Alderman James We ask for powers.
    Alderman Boase preferred two plans—an alternative plan for utilizing existing roads. It was a very important matter and, individually, he felt in an awkward fix, because he saw the great desirability of some road but preferred his own plan. They could hardly overrate the advantage this opening up of the land in the very centre of the town, a healthy part of the borough, and so well adapted to building purposes. It was difficult to say what would be the full extent of the good effects on the trade and interests of the town. Yet he wished to be very careful how he rushed into an expenditure of £6,000 to £7,000 —a very heavy amount in itself, but its outlay still more serious when they remembered what Penzance has yet to do. Government calls on the Sanitary authorities to filter the water —and that must be attended to in health resorts, indeed he felt quite sure, from what the Commissioner said when down here that it must be done —an improvement to cost several hundreds, perhaps thousands, pounds; and there was the pressing question of a floating dock. In face of these probable expenditures he felt a reserve about pledging himself to an outlay of £6,000 or £7,000 —indeed the Committee hardly knew what the cost might be. However, they had treated the question in a business-like way. As to a 12-feet road, or footpath, that would be of little service. A good broad road, doubtless, was required by Penzance. Other towns were going ahead in gaining sites and building houses, and Penzance must have sufficient and commodious houses or it could not progress as they would like to see it.
    Alderman Coulson had no partiality for a straight or a crooked road, but wanted a road, somewhere, to open this particular neighbourhood, and the cheapest possible thoroughfare they could get. If they let this opportunity slip it would not occur again. Like the Queen Street plans and these were distinct things, but the gradients of the two were pretty much the same. The opening-up of these fields must result in a different class of houses. If the Queen Street houses came down—say taking down from Mr. Brighton's to Chancery Lane on one side and then the whole the other side of the street—the depth of ground left and the right hand side going down the hill would make the improvement comparatively inexpensive one.

    Alderman Boase alternative scheme would provide a continuous artery from the top of Clarence Street to the Esplanade. Alderman did not consider the Committee bound to have a straight road, if they could gain a cheaper one, and he saw no reason why they should not be altered as to the northern end. The Public Buildings were, of course, a great central object and if approached from the Esplanade directly opposite them that would be great improvement and a convenience; but the road now opening into the centre of North Parade offered itself at less expense and made a line with Clarence Street he had nothing to say against it being there, at the least, made an alternative scheme of.

    Councillor Preston thought that the Report did not bind them to a site directly central to the Public Buildings, but, straight or crooked, it needed to be connect to the seaside with Alverton Street.

    Alderman James, reading that Report again, said it was quite plain that it advocated a road in a straight line from the centre of the Public Buildings.
    Mr. Prestos Then alter it to "in a line " and not have it " in a straight line."

    Councillor Stewart said such ground, let out for building, would soon add £100 a year to their rates.

    The Assistant Town Clerk Mr. F. Trounson introduced the following resolution, which he had hastily drawn: — " That the Report be received and adopted, but that it be an instruction to the Committee to adopt, if possible, such measures that will enable the Council, if it should think proper, to alter the line of approaches so as to utilize the present openings to the proposed new road either end."

    Mr. Boase: —That means that two plans will before the Commissioner and he can say which is the preferable one. Mr. York would second Mr. Boase's proposition.

    The Mayor: —ln this matter I feel, I have expressed to the Committee, in a somewhat—indeed in a very—delicate position, because I have to deal with this subject C. C. Ross and as the mayor of the town. I would very much rather have let this matter go on until the expiration of my year of office but for the fact that if you wished, as I understood you did wish, to gain additional power to deal with the question, that power must be sought for previous to the date of my leaving the chair. I, therefore, felt that I was only acting in your interests—for myself somewhat, perhaps, but I hope with a view very mainly to your interest—by having this subject brought before you before my year of office is over. As far as I am concerned, gentlemen, I wish in every way to meet your views the more so because I feel convinced that the interests you represent here and mine are identical and that we all wish to advance the material well-being of Penzance. Perhaps this scheme may prove advantageous to certain individuals; that is a speculation: but is it one calculated to promote the good of the town. Will it tend to bring down here, as residents, a class of people whom it is very desirable to have amongst us. During the time I have been here I have myself known many who wished to come here and who would have come here—who would have been here now, spending their money, but who could not come in the absence of suitable houses—l have had this pressing want dinned into my ears ever since I have been here—that when the opportunity came I made up my own mind that I would at the least try, whether I won or lost to remedy this great defect. If this scheme does not succeed I shall be the loser, and I think and hope, whether success attends efforts or not, Penzance will be the gainer —the gainer of nice wide roads in the very heart of the town. This chance I feel I should not have done right had I neglected to lay before you these plans. Declined now, it may not present itself again for many years. I only hope, the interests of Penzance, you may see your way clearly to avail yourselves of it.

    The resolution was carried unanimously.

    £7,000 in 1878 is worth £735,000 in 2016's money (source Historical UK inflation rates and calculator)


Discussion in 'Constructions, demolitions and fires' started by Halfhidden, Apr 17, 2016.

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