Wave Project founder on turning down Gwithian beach center in Cornwall
A charity founder who had his plans for a new base to support Cornwall children turned down described the decision as ‘a kick in the teeth’.
As The Packet reported on Wednesday, the charity was told this week that planning officers had refused planning permission under delegated powers. As a result, the charity has now appealed for an alternative site for its new home.
Mr Taylor claimed the only objections to the request came from the parish council and “second home owners”. He also criticized planning officers for failing to consider school goals in their decision-making.
He said the current plans had been changed in response to concerns raised about the building’s visibility from the seafront and claimed it would be barely visible.
He said: “We were quite surprised they turned it down due to the visual impact on the area.”
There was also disappointment that the application was not put to a planning committee for decision, with Mr Taylor wanting to give elected councilors the chance to see the benefits of the scheme.
He said there had been broad support from teachers and education professionals, including those who worked for Cornwall Council. But the main disappointment is that children in Cornwall will not have access to the new facility.
Mr Taylor said the new base would have helped provide support for up to 600 children across Cornwall who may be at risk of school exclusion. The Beach Schools program offered by The Wave Project has proven to be an effective way to get children back into school and learning.
Mr Taylor said: “I spent four years on this project, so it’s a real kick in the teeth. In the planning officer’s report, there is nothing about what we aim to do and the benefits of the project. All the emphasis seems to be on the site being next to the beach – the nature of what we do means we need to be near a beach.
He added: “The real losers here are the children of Cornwall, this is a facility that would have really benefited them. There is a huge problem with children who have trouble concentrating in class and end up being kicked out of school. There is nothing that schools have in their arsenal at the moment to properly support these children, it is exclusion or nothing.
“Cornwall has a poor record of permanent bans from schools. The latest data shows that there have been 48 in one year, it does not seem like a lot, but it is 48 children who do not have access to education. We know that these children end up becoming young people with serious problems.
“We have been running our Beach Schools program for six years, it was originally funded by Comic Relief and is now paid for by schools who see the benefits of what we are doing. It’s an intervention device, the children come to us one or two days a week for a limited time and it really helps them get back to school.
Mr Taylor said the new center was fully funded and would have cost the council nothing. He said that although they would not appeal the planning decision, they were not giving up.
“We really think this is a solution, that’s the main thing, we really understand the problem. The solution is really clear and there is a lot of evidence to support this work.
“We don’t want to let go. We don’t want to try to push through a planning application against the will of the local population and the parish council. We want to go to a site where people want it.
“We are now appealing to property owners in Cornwall if they have a reasonably beach accessible parcel of land that they would like to partner with us on this project, we would love to hear from them. We don’t need a lot of land, but we want it to happen for the children of Cornwall.
If you can help in any way or would like to discuss support you can contact Joe Taylor via email [email protected]