Holiday village revamp near Plymouth sparks eviction fears
RESIDENTS of a holiday village are fighting eviction by a developer who plans to build a £50million resort, writes Keith Rossiter.
About 25 families who rent chalets at Millendreath, near Looe in South East Cornwall, have been asked to leave by the end of January next year.
They have been living illegally as permanent residents in the holiday homes.
Espalier Developments, which owns the site, has started work on a £50million leisure complex. The company has planning permission to build 150 luxury holiday homes.
Espalier's managing director Rick Gibbs said the chalets were run-down and neglected. He said many of the leaseholders had chosen to let out their chalets cheaply to permanent residents, because the village had become so run-down.
"We've got to transform it and bring it back to a resort community because the planning consent is for a holiday village, not as a permanent place to live."
"The Looe economy as a whole is going to be a winner. We think we are going to bring an additional £5million to £6million a year to Looe.
"We have tried to be sensitive to the situation and we have discussed it with the council. We have given the tenants lots of notice – eight months rather than the one month required.
He said he had been supported by people in the area.
"The community at large has looked at this rundown valley and said the solution is a modern resort village."
Mr Gibbs said Espalier had started some demolition and work on resurfacing and improving a sewage treatment plant.
The site has 176 chalets with 25 lived in by tenants, 25 lived in by owner-occupiers and the rest used as holiday lets.
Paul Owen, one of the tenants, said Looe Town Council was backing their plea to Cornwall Council to vary the planning conditions.
"The council pays some people here housing benefit, which they are not allowed to do for a holiday home, so they have unofficially recognised us."
He said there were already 25,000 people on Cornwall's housing waiting list and it was wrong to add more.
Sheryll Murray, the MP for South East Cornwall, said: "There are tenants who may very well be displaced but they have been given eight months' notice.
"I am talking to Cornwall Council to see what we can do to resolve the housing problem.
"I can understand the tenants' plight and I don't want to see anyone homeless, but the chalets have been let in contravention of the terms of their lease.
"The very generous eight months notice gives us time to find a solution."
A Cornwall Council spokeswoman said: "The landlord has occupancy restrictions in the lease agreement with tenants which restricts permanent residential occupancy.
"This is an issue between the landlord and the tenants.
"There is also a planning condition in place which restricts the occupancy of the accommodation.
"The council is aware that a number of the units are occupied in breach of this condition, but this is not a planning enforcement matter being pursued by the council."