Penzance Harbour Development - a balanced view.

A balanced view - I think it might be handy for members to take a look at the Penzance Chamber of Commerce site as they FULLY SUPPORT THE HARBOUR DEVELOPMENT and provide more facts about the plan and its history. There is a lot of incorrect information being spread around about the project so yes please do attend the presentation at Vospers this week but with an open mind and take into account all aspects. I know we don't like change, but sometimes things need to be done and can't just be left "as they always have been". If this doesn't go ahead, then Penzance will be far worse off and the link to the Isles of Scilly could be lost forever (and possibly go to Falmouth!?) - what will that do for this town. The Isles of Scilly support the plan and in reality how much practical impact will this have? The Battery Rocks and War Memorial as we know them will not be affected and the bit of beach that will be lost is minimal, and as far as I am aware, is not used that much in any case. Please do look at all aspects of the proposal and say to yourself, what will happen if this doesn't go ahead? If you end up supporting the project, still make your views known as with all these sorts of things, it's the voices against which tend to be heard the most.


I'm not aware of anyone arguing that things must be left "as they always have been" (after all, there was no harbour at all originally!), simply that this proposed development is both unnecessary and inappropriate. The design that I've seen is woeful, the materials proposed out of keeping with the area, and the implied threat of moving the Scillonian service to Falmouth doesn't add up, coming as it does at a time when there is talk of moving the helicopter service to Land's End to save on fuel costs; so, it makes sense to increase the length of the sea journey, does it? I'd also be interested to learn how much of the considerable work involved would go to local firms, given that this proposal is apparently all in the best interests of Penzance.


Major Contributor
On your point concerning local workforce, I note that we have a vast input so far from local people and local firms ...
Trewin Design Partnership of Holsworthy
Halcrow Group Ltd of Swindon
Birse Coastal part of Balfour Beatty
Whilst writing, I have seen reference to the part Halcrow are taking in matters which have been described as questionable by some opponents of the scheme and its participants. I make no observations or claims in that regard, but I feel that that association should be better expressed by the proponents of the scheme, to give it full perspective.
This is the way of all flesh in the world, get a project under way and give it to outside contractors and specialists ... we are an intelligent bunch in Cornwall .. we built half the world's technology and industry. We also have a willing and directed work force. Let us see that work placed in Cornwall.
By the way, I seem to remember the Scillonian berthing at Newlyn for reasons of a dispute withe Penzance's harbour dues? All this talk about flexibility.

The beach is in constant use by wildlife and I see many seabirds sheltering and feeding there. I see many people on that beach, and on the rocks.
Perhaps to some a 'small section of beach' means little, but the side effect is that a view from the Parade Ground will be lost completely, and any view from Battery Rocks will be totally destroyed. The Pier will end up looking just like any Europort, completely characterless and hidden by a massive ugly depot. A great portion of a seawall will lose its history and detail. Th etown has rid itself in the past of hideous buildings and squalor of the 'Batten's Wharf' area soon to be replaced by another hideous monster with the squalor genearted by incresased traffic, despite any attempts to ameliorate this, traffic is traffic.


Major Contributor
Well, I have had the required look at the presentation; all neatly set out on posters, with minimalistic statements - one in particular completely wrong. The
graphics are very good and the lighting and texturing computer modelling very impressive, and all neatly selected so as to produce pictures that show a minimum impact on the visual environment. But ... no models; it appears that a whole building has been designed and no model; I made models for the
smallest of schemes to the largest. Mind you I am not surprised, as that would show the building in its worst light. It is one of the most preposterous assembly
of non-vernacular and the very worst of designs that I have seen. The entrance canopy looks as if the sea has already got hold of it. I sometimes wonder just
what planet some architects hail from, as they have such a distorted perspective and no creativity whatsoever, and they certainly no regard for this area. Of
course it is all fairness rules and regulations, with cut price fees to get the contract by above board tendering; never mind the ability to design and create, as
long as the fee structure fits. As far as the ship is concerned, fine we need one, in one form or another, as far as berthing is concerned, fine, it has to be done,
even as far as attempting to ameliorate (the new speak word) overtopping, to some extent, yes. If it makes sense ... to me it does not. The wave tube cycle
needs breaking out in the Bay with a breakwater. In that way it would assist our depleting foreshore and at-risk Promenade. When the Promenade was first built in 1843/4 it was possible to jump onto the beach ... try it now and get someone to call for the ambulance. The more prevention is applied to the Promenade and Harbour walls, the more the foreshore is being scoured and shifted. The Rock Armour appears to me to be the proverbial sledge hammer to crack the walnut. It may well work in certain conditions, but I really cannot see it will stop very much in the way of water, just in the fashion in which it will do it. It is all very well working on computer models and test tanks, but in the end, we live in the real world, and Nature makes up her own Rules, when she wants. All I know is that the Greek Islands totally and utterly rely on sea transport; their harbours are simple and effective, their ships are efficient and when finished are swapped in for another re-cycle from Germany or Japan, they have cats that bomb around and pull in anywhere and car ferries that simply go astern and divest themselves of the vehicles. Positively no fuss and no effect on the visual and living environment. Admittedly they do not have massive tides to accommodate, but they have the most destructive of storms. You live by the sea, and you should expect some normalities, like waves, salt, spray, seabirds and the accompanying projectiles after they have stolen the pasty, complaints about noisy motors and lights in the night follow others. This is Penzance, we live by the sea, get over it. At times, the wind is in the 'wrong direction' and the tide is massive and enlarged by atmospherics, or even ocean surge. She will win whatever. King Knut knew his limitations, despite all the flannel his subjects were waving. Sound man. I have to say that the requirements for the provision of funding are onerous and even geared to place an even greater pressure to the scheme making it altogether bureaucratically top-heavy, and the money on the ground is thereby reduced. The result of that will be a building that will not provide adequate life expectancy, in my view, in my experience. The view from the Parade Ground will be severely reduced. It will also be marred by the intrusion of the most unsightly of all possible combinations of roof and columns. It has to be said that Penzance has been through a much more tumultuous time from 1840 to 1890, particularly 1880. The changes made were much more dramatic than any of these changes now proposed. Neither were there as many investigations or surveys completed. Basically, they looked at it and got on with it and we have a great and historical town because of it. So let everyone ensure that in a hundred or so years, the town can look back and say, good job we thought about it and actually got it right, instead of building that monstrosity that was planned.

By the way, there are assurances that No RO-RO facility, Traffic being transported remains as is, no growth in population or occupancy has been a part of the proposals, so that, for me is a major statement.

Bilge Rat

Route Partnership – the threat to the Isles of Scilly Link – a balanced view.

Hyders were appointed at a cost of hundreds of thousands to examine 14 options for the development of Penzance Harbour. There were more options but lack of consultation failed to bring these to light. In the evaluation 3 options were selected. None of them feature in the RP plan – in fact the one they have selected is a version of an option that came in the bottom 4 and certainly is not the least environmentally harmful solution as suggested in the Route Partnership leaflet.

Hyders also recommended a faster vessel with a more comfortable ride for the route to attract passengers. The boat proposed is neither. It is larger than the present vessel and cannot access the dry dock or wet dock so the job of routine maintenance will go elsewhere putting local skilled labour out of work. The extension to Lighthouse Pier we are now told will not provide a secure bad weather berth for the new boat and it will have to use the Albert Pier summer and winter denying opportunities for development there and impeding existing charter vessels.

At the exhibition the representative from the IoS said that the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company was an independent operator. The suggestion being that the RP vessel bought with tax and ratepayers money and subsidised by them for its lifetime will be in direct competition with the existing service that has operated since 1919. This threat to the link will no doubt result in serious skilled job losses when the IoSSSCO fails. Or indeed the unsustainable RP vessel – then there would be no link!

The sensible option for them would be to sell the Scillonian III and carry on as a freight conveyor. As a company wholly owned by Scillonians who would the islanders prefer to deal with, an unknown operator charging say 50% higher freight rates, or the local boys who have run the service for decades for a lesser rate?

The Steamship Company stated at Decembers Regeneration meeting that the Scillonian is fully certified till 2014.

One of the options overlooked by the RP was that of an out of town freight yard where cargo could be containerised and brought to the quay in 5 or 6 trips thereby easing traffic congestion in the town and eradicating the need for vehicles to queue as they do now and would and would continue to on a dangerous bend in the RP proposal. An existing building, say the Trinity House, could be utilized for passenger registration (the PDC business plan has it penciled in for an alternative use).

This would alleviate the need to destroy the assets of listed structures and buildings around Tin Mans Haul.

I know of wealthy incomers given permission by PDC planners to decapitate a 150 year old beech tree to gain a view of the Mount from their window – now, in the Route Partnership proposal, an iconic view is to be denied to locals and visitors by an industrial site in the historic heart of Penzance.

The proposed site has rows of refrigerated stores that will hum away day and night. It has a passenger reception area with a cafeteria that will take trade away from other businesses in the area. The sea defence, portrayed in the photo montage in the wrong position, will not prevent waves damaging the structures behind it. I have seen waves coming over the top of the Yacht Inn behind St Anthonys Garden. What’s more, the passenger reception building with trendy vast overhanging roof will give absolutely no protection in wet and windy weather (probably designed by the same person who designed the trendy shelters in the bus station.)

The development will damage the listed structure of the South Pier and concrete over the 14th and 16th century origins of it. The proposal will also deny public access to much of South Pier.

The resource of Battery Rocks recognized by Natural England for its educational value will be scoured out permanently by wave reflection, and the assets of the listed Jubilee Pool and the promenade that has £2.6 million earmarked for its enhancement will be destroyed by the intrusion of industrial style architecture.

It is also insensitive to build adjacent to Pen Sans, the Holy Headland after which Penzance was named, and disrespectful to the memory of those who gave their lives in war and are honoured by the War Memorial.

This proposal creates no additional space for employment opportunities.

The 31% of passengers spending at least 5 days in West Penwith quoted by Nicola Yeates suggests that they choose to holiday here to enjoy the landscape, coastal views, heritage and history. The very things the Route Partnership plan proposes to degrade. They travel to Scilly on a day trip and hoteliers need not fear for their livelihoods.

Port security is an issue that has been raised but this does not apply as the Scilly link is not classed as offshore.

Tim Wood stated on Radio Cornwall that the 1990 Harbour Revision Order gave outline planning permission for the plan. I have been told that this is incorrect.

This proposal is economically and environmentally costly and should be opposed on these grounds and a new study of alternative options that will bring economic benefits to all of West Cornwall be undertaken.

The comment form supplied at the exhibition was designed to confuse and manipulate answers in favour of the Route Partnership proposal.

In the brief time I was at the exhibition two people refused to fill in the form for this reason. It begs the question how many didn’t comment?

Also the lack of apparent disabled access prevented my partner from attending and I thought it discriminatory that the great and the good (?) were invited to a private view on Friday, presumably to isolate them from objectors.


Major Contributor
What a wonderful statement ... I applaud you ....
As far as I can see in this 'equal and competitive world' the IoSSCo will eventually cease to exist, in the light of less locally minded and undercutting tenders, with their hidden facts (in my experience), which I see as a reason for the ill-considered and insensitive proposals. I did not fill out the form, because of the intended misinterpretation of my views to suit their intentions.


I have to agree that this is a breath of fresh air reading your post. Logical yes, good reasoning and above all informative.
Thank you for participating.


Staff member
Just had a thought.....The IOSSC threaten that they will have to move to Falmouth if plans don't go ahead.....wouldn't this be costly for them as they would have to retrain the crew for the NEW ROUTE but more importantly traveling from Falmouth to Isles of Scilly by BOAT would NO longer be a DAY TRIP and people would prefer to drive down to PZ and fly by plane.??
How long do you think it would take to travel to Isles of Scilly from Falmouth by boat??? (considering it takes a day from Penzance)


Major Contributor
For a long time I have been sitting on the fence having considered at the outset that people were being critical of a great opportunity for improvements to the Scillies service, and resistant to change for change's sake, and were all of the saffron-and-brown rice brigade. Irresponsibly, I failed to attend any of the meetings.

However, having latterly given the proposals due consideration, my wife and I visited the presentation of the proposals this week, and saw the plans and facts for ourselves. Our over-riding impression was that the architectural design of the storage depot and accompanying changes to the pier were by no means as innocuous as we might have imagined. They were downright ugly from every angle and totally out of keeping with the oldest quarter of Penzance. Furthermore, in no way would the sea defences succeed in repelling a fiercesome storm.

Bilge Rat's account of the facts says it all. I spoke to a very pleasant and reasoned gentleman during my visit and wonder if it may be him since I suggested that he might contribute to the Picture Penzance Forum and he seemed interested to hear that there had been comments made there on the proposals. Thanks to whosoever clarified the snags inherent in the proposals with such powerful arguments. It would be interesting to hear the counter arguments from the proposers and see if they hold water without sinking!

I am now, to my surprise, totally against the proposals since it is absolutely clear that there are better and equally practicable options which will benefit Penzance, the Scillies and future prosperity and security within the area.

Bilge Rat

Visitors to the exhibition of the Route Partnerships proposal were invited to take part in an exit poll after veiwing the exhibition.
Those who didn't wish to take part for whatever reason were marked as in favour so there could be no accusation of bias.
The poll showed a daily consistant opposition to the RP plan of 85-86.5%.
Many people are still unaware that the Scillonian IV is not to replace, at the expense ratepayers, the existing vessels on the route, but to be in competition with them.


Major Contributor
That is a point on which I am unaware, so, what is to happen with the IOSSCo? So why is the point of moving to Falmouth being made (rather self -defeating as the day trip aspect would be gone), I certainly would not support any company that is not Scillonian based.

Bilge Rat

The Scillonian IV to be purchased by the ratepayers of Cornwall will be a separate ferry link - both its build and service provider are out to tender at the moment.
The tender for construction went out last year to 5 or 6 European companies.
Only one bothered and came in with a build price way over the Route Partnerships budget. They knew this at the September exhibition but did not let on.
The specification has somehow been altered to bring it into line with the budget but unfortunately Sterling has crashed against the Euro and the price gone up by say 30%.
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company who have run the link for 90 years stated at last Decembers Regeneration meeting that that the steamer is fully certified till at least 2014 and the Gry similar.
The steamer does a 5 hour day and a 6 day week for 6 months in the summer.
Thats like 10% of her working life!
Something else is going on here - any guesses?


Major Contributor
I see ... that is beginning to fit, I thought I was the only one with suspicions.

Incidentally Scillonian (II) was sold off at 21 years (1977) and she went on until 2004, having served on the Channel, Bristol Channel, Orkney/Shetlands, Greek Islands, Liberia and Guinea, Ghana, and Mediterranean, ending up in Bulgaria, and the ONLY reason she sank was due to negligence after a quay dues and pay dispute.


When is the final consultation?
One things for sure...... there's a lot of chatter about this... I intend to link this thread to the newsletter next week.

Bilge Rat

I would say that if the exhibition could count as a consultation - I understand formal complaints are going in - then thats it!
The Route Partnership team were in London first thing Monday morning in discussions at the Department for Transport about the proposal.
Could this be interpreted as getting in quick before the fertilize hits the wind mill?

Bilge Rat

On my visit to the exhibition I was surprised (?) that Mr Wood didn't believe the questionaire was confusing - I was only at the exhibition for a few minutes and four people refused to fill it in, not because it was confusing but because the central question was blatantly loaded. In my opinion that question totally invalidated any support the Route Partnership might claim for their proposal.
I was pleased to see that after a reported nine year development of the proposal that Nicola Yeates has at last admitted in the Cornishman article that the proposed Scillonian IV will be going head to head in competition with the existing service provider the IoSSSCo. who have delivered a profit making link for the past 90 years!
The Cornishman must be congratulated for disproving the myth the RP has been promoting that the Department for Transport funding is in any way tied to this proposal or that there is time limit attached that is about to run out.
The Route Partnership has misled the public and I believe there are far better options for the benefit of west Cornwall for future generations that should evaluated and implemented.


I wanted to bring this thread back to the front as Bilge Rat has mentioned some important events and time scales that we should be aware of. I have placed a permanent banner on the front page of Picture Penzance to help raise the profile of this proposed development.

Bilge Rat

A letter to Ken Laverys Head of Corporate affairs for the West One Delivery Area Cornwall Council

Tom Flanagan

I heard with interest your interview on Radio Cornwall with regard to the Route Partnership proposal for the historic heart of Penzance seafront.
Towards the end of your piece you said that when the decision was made everyone would understand. This reminded me of the statement made by the Route Partnership after their final exhibition in September 2008 in which they described the 85% who objected as confused.

As it was, it was they who were confused as their plan was rejected again by 85% in the January final exhibition!

I noted the following in an interview with you I found on the internet….

The last of Tom's key priorities is to work more closely with local communities to provide them with the services they want. "My aim is to work in partnership with Town and Parish Councils to find out what they see as priorities for their local areas and then look together to see how this can be achieved" he said.

"In some cases this will involve the services being provided by the new Council, but in others it could mean the individual Town or Parish Council taking responsibility for delivering an individual service at the local level. This is a very exciting time for local communities, as well as for the new Council, and we need to work together to ensure that we create the Cornwall we all want to live and work in"

We do not want what the RP have in mind for Penzance nor does the Town Council.


Major Contributor
All sounds rather familiar?
'I am sure when the Fuhrer sets in operation his plans, the fatherland and the people will understand'
... do we have a choice against this commercial concern? I found nothing in the exhibit which I found confusing, nor did I find the question confusing - it was a loaded question without any form of democratic choice.
I have my own feelings on this insane ill-considered bulldozer project which are unprintable.


A quick snippet of an email sent to me by fellow member bilge rat says the following:
"The Route Partnership have this morning announced that they are withdrawing their planning application for Penzance Harbour.

Council portfolio holders for the Economy and Transport both lost their seats in the recent election and all those elected to represent Penzance at Duchy Hall opposed the plan.

Leader of the council David Whalley has also left with his question in 2008 still unanswered...

On the subject of the new vessel, in a weekly briefing to Members, the Leader of Cornwall County Council, David Whalley, made the following comment (3 March 2008):

[Executive Committee Agenda Item 17: Isles of Scilly Link]

I have previously explained the position in relation to the proposed IoS link. Since last writing we have still been attempting to resolve the issue. As an Executive our position is one where we support the proposal for a new IoS ferry. We are generally in support of the reasons why CCC had been asked to be the lead on this project. Our concerns remain over the finances. In particular to (sic) notion that CCC should be the only organization with financial risk. The Council has currently spent nearly 1/2£ million in preparing this project. We are now being asked to put a further £1.2 million at risk. In the likely event of the project being successful, there will be no cost to CCC, but this remains a risky bid. There is a further issue around the ownership of the new vessel. This will be bought by CCC and leased to the operator. In the event of the link not proving financially viable the operator could walk away and leave the council with a ferry! There are risks, therefore over and above those within the initial procurement of the vessel.

The whole project needs re-examining with a plan acceptable to the people of Penzance and Cornwall"
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