The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall heard about the widespread benefits of the Duchy of Cornwall’s decision to use locally sourced materials on its Tregunnel Hill project during a visit to the site. Their Royal Highnesses visited the development on the edge of Newquay town centre on the final day of their annual tour of Devon and Cornwall, to view the site and meet with residents, developers and those working on the project.
The Prince spent over an hour at Tregunnel Hill, and was able to talk to some of the local craftsmen employed on the project as part of the Duchy of Cornwall’s commitment to use locally sourced materials whenever possible.
Tregunnel Hill is being built by South West-based CG Fry & Son and Morrish Builders, who have worked with the Duchy on its award-winning Poundbury development at Dorchester for over 20 years, and is designed by Adam Architecture. The development includes 174 new homes and workspace for 30 people on the 10-acre site. The first residents moved in at the end of 2013, with building work due to complete next year.
The aim is to set a benchmark for sustainable development in Cornwall, and the site is being built in accordance with the principles established by the Duchy for its Nansledan urban extension now taking shape to the east of the town. These include a commitment to use locally sourced materials wherever possible, minimising carbon emissions, creating socially inclusive places and diversifying and strengthening the local economy.
Tim Gray, Estate Surveyor to the Duchy of Cornwall, said: “This was the Prince of Wales’s first visit to Tregunnel Hill since work began, and we were delighted to welcome him and the Duchess of Cornwall to see the progress on site.
“None of this would have been possible without the inspiration and direction of His Royal Highness, including his desire to spread the benefit of the development through Cornwall with a revival in the use of Cornish materials by skilled craftsmen, building homes and workspace for local people.
“By working with a consortium of housebuilders we can build sustainable long-term relationships with Cornish suppliers, craftsmen and apprentices, creating a virtuous circle that retains value in the economy. Our thanks go to them for their commitment and also to the local planners, officers, elected members and the local community all of whom have been instrumental in realising our ambition.”
Trevillett Slate quarry near Tintagel has provided roofing slate for the Tregunnel Hill project, and is also supplying slate for Nansledan. The company has taken on five members of staff as a result of the contract, boosting its workforce to 21, and expects to create more jobs as work at Nansledan continues.
Mandy Hopkins, managing director of Mill Hill Quarries which owns Trevillett Slate quarry said: “Tregunnel Hill has been a very important contract for us, and we’re so happy to see a local project using local materials and keeping alive a traditional Cornish industry when so many of the old slate quarries in Cornwall have shut down. We have supplied 270 tonnes of finished roofing slate, quarried from Tintagel then split and dressed. This has doubled production for us, creating more security for our staff, and Nansledan will provide work for years ahead.”
De Lank Quarry near Bodmin has quarried and cut granite to supply kerbs, steps, window sills and back edging for the Tregunnel Hill project. The contract has enabled the company to retain 15 staff and created an additional two jobs, with the potential of more jobs when De Lank goes on to work at Nansledan.
Director Adrian Phillips said: “Tregunnel Hill has been good for the county as well as giving work to local people. It’s massively important to see a project of this stature using locally sourced materials rather than choosing cheaper foreign imports, and it’s great to work with people who appreciate the quality of our product and are prepared to invest in it.
“So often, people opt for importing cheaper granite. Ours might cost slightly more initially but that’s because it’s 10 times harder – and the long term benefits are greater, as it will last 10 times as long. It’s great to see the Tregunnel Hill project taking the long term view and investing in quality which will last.”
Pool-based Horizon Roofing has worked at Tregunnel Hill fitting the slate quarried at Trevillett, as well as completing lead works. The company employs 32 people, and Managing Director Spencer Osborn said the contract had saved jobs. “We’ve had up to nine people working at Tregunnel Hill and as a result of the contract, we haven’t had to lay off any staff – which we may well have had to do last year,” he said.
“Working on the project is a fantastic opportunity for us and it’s great that the work has been kept in Cornwall. That’s unusual on a project this size, and it’s been a godsend in a tough time.”
Wadebridge firm R Clemens Stonework carried out Cornish stone hedging at Tregunnel Hill after being sub-contracted by civils contractor WBM Groundworks. Martin Clemens, owner of R Clemens Stonework which employs around 12 people and has specialised in Cornish hedging for 35 years, said the project had secured jobs for at least five staff.
He said: “Tregunnel Hill has kept our people in work, and it’s been in everyone’s best interests for local tradesmen to be employed, not least because we can ensure the work is carried out correctly and won’t create problems in the future.”
WBM Groundworks based in Liskeard has constructed roads and sewers at Tregunnel Hill as well as building foundations. Director Michael Follett said: “This has been a prestigious project for us, and the contract has definitely sustained jobs during a difficult time following the recession, and has created local jobs as well. Tregunnel Hill is a hugely positive project for the area, and it’s very important that local materials and local resources have been used.”
Sales for properties at Tregunnel Hill are already ahead of schedule, with the majority of homes being sold off plan, most to local families and first time buyers assisted by the Government-backed Help to Buy shared equity scheme. Residents began moving in from November 2013 onwards.
One new homeowner at Tregunnel Hill praised the quality of the build. Tony and Alice McKeough from Newquay bought a three-bedroom semi-detached property at the site, and moved into their first home in May.
Tony, a 33-year-old teacher, said: “We’re very happy living here, it’s a fantastic development and a really good quality build. The main attractions for us were the location, which is ideal, and the plot size, which is very generous.
“The standard of the build is also so good throughout. We have Cornish slate on the roof which is a really nice feature, and the fact that so many local materials were used did appeal to us when we chose to buy here. It makes the development look individual, and very different to some of the more generic housing developments you see elsewhere.”
The Duchy of Cornwall is applying the same sustainable development principles at Nansledan, the urban extension to Newquay which has been 20 years in the planning and has been underway since January this year.
Nansledan, which is Cornish for ‘broad valley’, will eventually feature 4,000 new homes as well as a new primary school, high street with local shops, business space, Methodist church, recreation fields and allotments.
Nansledan is being built by consortium of South West building companies including Wainhomes, CG Fry & Son and Morrish Builders.
Working with a consortium for the 40-years plus duration of the build will ensure consistency of quality and help establish longevity with local supply chains, creating opportunities for apprentices, skills development and the employment of local people.