Parish Clerk: Mrs Julie Burdon
Tel: 01726 890983
Mob: 07899 718000
Roche Parish Council © All rights reserved Website by DMC IT - Cornwall
Statement of Conformity
Broadly, people in Roche feel that more housing and development is going to happen in and around the village but that the infrastructure and services will not develop to reflect these changes. The school and doctors generally seem to be the services which people think are already coming under strain from the rate at which Roche is growing. There is a feeling from people that these services should dictate the growth of housing in Roche.
Lots of people have displayed anguish over new houses being built in Roche. Some people have flatly rejected the possibility of new homes being built without any solution or compromise being taken. People generally however have been more pragmatic about housing development. People recognise that more housing is needed but they feel that services need to improve either during development or following shortly after.
Some people also suggested that any new housing should include off-street parking. This is presumably a response to the traffic problems which are caused in Roche centre through a lack of parking close to services in the village.
Lots of people feel that Roche has become too residential too quickly and as a result, has alienated people from their neighbours and the rest of the village. This is something which was raised particularly by people who have been residents of Roche for a long time and have therefore experienced Roche as a small village through to what we see today.
According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, average house prices in Roche have fallen by nearly 15% in the past twelve months up to January 2015 whereas average prices in the rest of the UK rose by 10% in the year up to November 2014. Even excluding London from the UK statistics, house prices still rose by 7.1% in the year up to November 2014.
Overwhelmingly and unsurprisingly, people who responded to the survey sited renewable energy such as wind turbines and solar farms to be the greatest threat to the environment in Roche and the surrounding area.
Flooding was another major issue which was raised under environment. Comments ranged from the village being unprepared to cope with surface runoff which is created by urban environments to drains simply not being maintained by the Council.
No other issues were raised in large numbers but people were generally in favour of reducing the amount of vehicles travelling through Roche, even if this meant a new road being built outside the village to divert traffic.
Being situated in Cornwall, Roche is 34% above the national average for green space. However, due to the relative density and size of houses in Roche, domestic garden ownership is 15% below the UK average.
There is a large consensus throughout Roche that the school is at capacity and cannot handle the extra pupils who would want to attend the school from families who have recently moved to Roche. Some people feel that the only way an expansion of the school could happen if it was horizontally but some have suggested that the school has the possibility to grow upwards.
Interestingly, very few people suggested relocation for the school which suggests that people hold the current school and existing site in high regard or simply do not know enough about it.
Maths and English levels in Roche schools is slightly lower than the national average but GCSE results are slightly higher which reaffirms the high standard of education provided in the Clays area.
Based on the comments which people shared on the survey, most of the respondents seem fairly content that Roche’s heritage is already protected and would not be at risk from development or change.
The protection of the Glebe Meadow and Roche Rock were the two heritage items which featured most frequently in people’s responses. The fact rock climbing enthusiast climb Roche Rock is quite a contentious issue for residents due to the long term damage this will cause to a relatively small but also important piece of the village’s heritage.
Jobs and Services
The transition of the Post Office from its own separate shop to being a counter Roche’s convenience store is not something which residents are taking kindly to. Despite the obvious financial savings which will benefit the Post Office and the indifference in location, people seem to be unwelcoming of change in the village. They do not see it as a reaction to the local economy, more as a further degradation of services in the village.
It is worth noting that whilst the current Post Office location has two parking spaces for vehicle, vehicles are rarely seen using them, opting more often for parking on the road directly in front of the Post Office. Due to Roche’s relative compact nature, most customers of the Post Office tend to be on foot. A lack of parking has not contributed to downsizing in the Post Office.
As previously mentioned, Roche is very compact in nature and due to its age, very difficult to expand and develop the centre. However, Victoria provides the perfect location to develop services and shops. People suggested that this should happen and it should also include the development of its existing commercial sector but also housing. If the link between Roche and Victoria were to improve, Victoria would be a very rational alternative to developing Roche.
The general sectors of jobs in which Roche residents are employed in centre strongly around the primary and secondary such as elementary occupations, manufacturing and skilled labour, up to five and seven percent above the national average, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Leisure was a section in the survey which not only prompted the lowest tick-box response rate but also the lowest comment response. However, what comments there were seemed to centre around the fact that existing leisure facilities need to be funded and maintained before Roche even considers getting more. A few people also felt that leisure facilities are a waste of time and money in the village as they are underused and poorly maintained. This could be attributed to a downward spiral of deprivation note just in Roche but the whole of the Clays region.
Survey respondents felt that better public transport links should be introduced but these are clearly unviable options for the operators who have no doubt already looked into expanding services to the more deprived parts of Cornwall. The existing bus and train links to St Austell, Bodmin, Newquay and on to Truro are infrequently used currently either due to cost, impracticality or the rise in private vehicle ownership.
Unsurprisingly in line with Cornwall as a county, annual household incomes are £4,000 below the UK average. This is mainly due to the sectors of employment which are mainly available in the area and the relative depravity of Cornwall as a region, one of the most deprived in the European Union.
Undoubtedly, heavy vehicles passing through Roche centre are the most important issue to residents and an ever increasing hazard to safety. Drivers ignoring the speed limit and the unsuitable width of the village make large articulated vehicles a real danger and create a very hostile environment in Roche, an environment where you would think twice about walking to the shops in the village.
At least a third of people responding to the survey suggested a pedestrian crossing in the village. This would no doubt have a calming effect on traffic travelling through the village and increase safety for residents and drivers alike.
To summarise, there is strong dissatisfaction in Roche with the state of traffic flows, services, housing provision and schools.
Traffic issues were unquestionably the most mentioned problem by the residents of Roche in the survey. Several factors have contributed to people’s strong feelings on traffic in Roche. On one hand there are the physical factors such as the narrow width of the village and the steep hill which only begins to level out in the very centre of the village, ultimately causing traffic to exceed the speed limit whilst in close proximity to other vehicles and pedestrians. And on the other hand, vehicles especially large heavy goods have no option but to travel through Roche to either reach the A30 or St Austell and the quarries in the other direction. As there is no viable alternative route currently, the increasing numbers of vehicles using the village of Roche as a thoroughfare will naturally increase should no alternative route be created.
Resident’s responses concerning homes were extremely pragmatic and well measured. Very few respondents expressed and wish for no new homes to be built in Roche and that the village had become too big as it is. People recognise that Roche needs to develop and grow and that it is an inevitability. However, people generally have concerns over whether services in and around the village can cope as it is and if they would develop and grow with an increase in population. Roche residents would certainly benefit from a statistical analysis of services in Roche in 2015 along with the survey results in order to put development in perspective i.e. pressure on doctors, schools and shops.
Based on opinions in the Roche survey, a solution which bypassed the majority of traffic entering Roche in a compromise for a sustainable number of housing would be an amicable way forward for the Neighbourhood Plan. Should new housing need to be built to partially fund a new road project or improvements to Roche village centre, the residents of Roche would vote for this favourably once the Neighbourhood Plan is finalised.
Cornwall Council have published extensive reports on the county’s statistics over the past few years partially in an effort to predict the needs of its population over the coming years. The county’s population is growing and the highest levels of outward migration are people of working age. These are not new trends but it does however mean that Cornwall’s population is getting older and therefore increasing pressure on health services and other sectors associated with an elderly population.
This does however pose a problem for Roche. Schools are currently oversubscribed in Roche but this does not mean that pupil numbers are set to continue rising, if anything numbers will stay level or even fall due to families living long-term in Roche. This would suggest therefore that the primary school in Roche does not need to expand and a possible inward migration of new residents into the village would not have a dramatic effect on school numbers. Cornwall Council’s projections also support this.
Presuming that elderly population is going to rise in Roche in line with the rest of the county, service provision in the area should logically follow this trend. Currently, people outside of working age outnumber those of working age which means that services in Roche currently have to provide for elderly residents. The doctor’s surgery will come under increased pressure over the next decade onwards as elderly care provision puts increasing usage on healthcare in the Clays region.
Surprisingly, fewer younger people are leaving Cornwall and those who have done in the past are returning to the county. The Clays region is potentially not in line with this trend however and Roche in particular will not benefit from highly skilled and educated people staying in or returning to the county.
As noted previously, traffic is the biggest issue with residents in Roche and a solution to the problem would solve a lot of other issues in the village. Traffic surveys in the area record high volumes of traffic and disproportionately high volumes of heavy goods traffic using Roche village as a shortcut to their final destination due to an absence of an A30 trunk road connection. The statistics also show that volumes of traffic are steadily increasing despite overall growth in the use of public transport elsewhere in the county.
A bypass solution to take the majority of the traffic out of Roche would have several benefits, not just the obvious. Safety would of course be increased for residents and drivers alike. As mentioned previously, the small width of the village creates a claustrophobic pedestrian environment but not enough to slow down the speed of vehicle or to prevent them from driving through Roche all together.
A reduction in vehicles passing through the village would dramatically improve air quality and the health and wellbeing of local residents. Noise pollution and the hostile nature of the village centre would be vastly reduced and even prevented. Statistics would suggest that an introduction of a bypass and heavy vehicles would spark the development of shared spaces and a village environment which would make it hostile for vehicles to pass through.
The introduction of shared space town centres has consistently reduced safety issues and increased the caution and awareness of drivers through the space. The mental and physical wellbeing of residents has also improved as a result of these changes suggesting that the benefits are endless which could extend to a reduced reliance on healthcare and other support services.
Currently, village services and shops do not rely on passing trade, mainly due to the lack of parking and accessibility in the village. If Roche had the ability to lose the high volumes of traffic from its centre and then develop the village from there, the likelihood of shops and services growing is very high which would in turn attract investment into the area.
Should the traffic be taken away from Roche, the pavement between Roche and Victoria could be finished and extended. This would finally join up the two hamlets, the train station and the services in Victoria creating growth in both areas.
The statistics from UK Traffic Data show that traffic at the Trezaise end of Roche and the A30 link end of Roche is far greater than anything passing through Bugle or St Dennis, both cars and heavy goods vehicles. Geographically and financially, a bypass of Roche would be more favourable than one of Bugle and Cornwall Council’s decision to not go ahead with a Bugle bypass would suggest this.
Public support for a bypass is likely to be high. Going on the popularity of the A391 Carluddon road improvement during the public consultation in 2012, over 74% of the public were in support of the scheme.
Cornwall Council are currently looking into the viability of a link road connecting the higher end of Trezaise with Newquay Road and the A30. Should this prove to be a sensible and cost effective option for the council, it will have the potential to divert all through traffic around Roche centre, freeing the village up to development opportunities which can take advantage of a quieter, safer neighbourhood.
There are various finance options for the new stretch of highway, the most viable would probably involve the council building the road out of public highway funds and then accepting financial contributions from developers further down the line.
RNP Steering Group Meetings