Proposed Multi-Faith Facility for Truro?

Elliptical Prayer Space

A radical multi-faith facility has been designed by Matt Robinson Architecture. Mr Robinson, a previous winner of a Cornish Buildings Group award, has designed an elliptyical buildings (above) which, if funded, could be built near Penmount Crematorium near Truro.

For more on this project visit

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Should Buildings Like This Be Demolished?

 Cornwall Council Planning Application Reference PA 12/03967

 Pragmatically, we accept that the Brookdale Hotel is a typical building of its era and perhaps of modest architectural quality. However, in this age of sustainability we question whether its demolition will enduce something better in its place? The Brookdale Hotel (above) has a distinct character, is in keeping with its neighbours and sits in context of the area in general. It is not iconic as such, but does have a local distinctiveness and is situated on the edge of a conservation area.

The Council of the Cornish Buildings Group have requested that developers consider reusing, what appears to be, a very serviceable building. Furthermore, if conversion/ conservation is not an option we question how good any replacement buildings will be? We feel that references should be made between the existing architecture and those of any potential new build. We hope that the local character of Tregollls Road will be maintained, and not compromised by an alien structure that boasts little aesthetic or material quality nor compliments the area.

 We feel that buildings of this type should at least have serious consideration given to re-use. 

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Casework Archive 2012

Truro Eastern Development

Secretary of State to decide on Truro Eastern District Development
Truro Eastern District Development
See article in 2011 Newsletter

Penzance Harbour

Plans to demolish all the existing buildings along the harbourside, barring the Docker’s Rest Café.

A new terminal building would be constructed approximately where the Meadery buidling is today. Space is shown for visiting yachtman facilties and a new Harbour Master’s office.
North Pier is substantially widened along its whole length.
The Rank Building on the end of North Pier is demolished and replaced by a new freight building and marine engineering workshop.
A covered walk way would be provided along the length of South Pier. This is seen as desirable but not essential given the difficulty making this structure robust enough to survive winter storms and still be acceptable on a ‘listed’ structure.

A New Home for Cornish Archives

A major milestone in the Council’s aspirations to create a new home for its archives and Cornish studies collections was reached on the 30th November with the submission of an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £9.8 million match-funding. The project will transform the derelict Redruth Brewery site and create a state-of-the-art facility to care for and improve access to these internationally important collections. If successful at the round one assessment in April 2013, there will then be an 18 month period to consult researchers, staff, partners and volunteers on the building design, service provision and a Cornwall-wide activities and events programme.

Bodmin Conservation Area Appraisal

 A chance to recognise Foster Hall as an important building worthy of saving exists through the Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan for Bodmin of which is open to public consultation until 1st February 2013.

The existing Conservation Appraisal for Bodmin was undertaken in 2000. Cornwall Council has been reviewing Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans for several towns and villages over the last 5 years in order to keep the documents up to date with current national legislation and guidance.

The document can be viewed at here

Penzance Local Development Order

Cornwall Council announce consultation regarding a Local Development Order for replacement windows and doors in the designated conservation area of Lescudjack and Battlefields, Penzance.  Formal consultation on the design guide and the LDO are expected to start on 28 June with a public consultation event on 6 July. For more see  the website

 Foster Complex

The Cornish Group formally applied to English Heritage for listed status on Foster Hall.  

Read response from English Heritage

National Planning Policy Framework

The revised NPPF document is available at here

Council gives go ahead for new homes and Eastern Park and Ride for Truro  

for more

Truro Eastern District Centre decision to be made

The Strategic Planning Committee will sit on 8 March to decide on the controversial planning application to demolish two houses and develop Newquay Road and Union Hill. The Cornish Buildings Group are against this development and has had dialogue with Duchy of Cornwall representatives. We feel that developing this area of outstanding natural beauty and designs for the new buildings are wholly inappropriate.

 Truro Stadium plans get go ahead

A new stadium for Cornwall looks more likely since the Secretary of State has given apprival for plans to proceed to the detailed stage. The stadium will most likely be sited at Langarth Farm, Threemilestone, Truro.


 to our Council member Dr Jo Mattingly who has been elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Her election is in recognition of her significant contribution to historic research in the county and her work in museums and with local history organisations.  

 CBG announces its AGM 

 Trelowarren announced as venue for our Annual General Meeting on Saturday 24 March. Sir Ferrrers Vyvyan will lead us on a visit to the eco-buildings on the estate. lunch will be in the Telowarren bistro followed by our Annual General Meeting. Any nominations for Chairman and Council membership should be sent to our secretary (see contact page). 

Looking for the best in Cornish architecture

The Cornish Buildings Group are looking for the best new buildings and restorations of the past year for their annual awards scheme.  

The aim of the group has long been to recognise architects and builders who have shown great innovation and sensitivity in the design of new buildings and conservation or restoration of historic buildings. The annual awards scheme was introduced by the group to help further these aims and, after running for 30 years, can claim some success in improving standards.

Last year’s winner was Kestle Barton, Manaccan, whose restored farm buildings now boast an art gallery and high-quality holiday accommodation. Commendations are also given to worthy projects.

This year’s award scheme is now open for entries and the awards administrator, Joanne Laing is looking forward to receiving requests for entry forms. Although entries usually come from owners and architects, Ms Laing points out that anyone can enter a building with the cooperation of the owner.

Paul Holden, Chairman of the Cornish Buildings Group, said ‘This is a great opportunity to showcase Cornish buildings both old and new. Our aim is to reward buildings that display exceptional standards of excellence. That could be exciting design, good planning practices, sound conservation or, as with last years winner Kestle Barton,  a combination of all three’. 

The closing date is 31 March 2012.

Truro Eastern District Public Meeting

Truro’s Eastern District Centre Public Meeting Last night I attended the public meeting on the planning application for the Eastern District Centre. These plans are for a new park and ride, Waitrose food hall, a Taste of Cornwall food hall and around 100 houses. Before the public meeting the Strategic Planning Committee had a technical meeting outlining these plans. The plans are due to go before this committee on the 15th December. The public meeting was held in the council chambers at County Hall. A quick headcount established at least 200 people in attendance. Out of those 52 people decided to speak on the pro’s and con’s to this application. As with the last public meeting I attended on the stadium the audience this evening was more towards the senior element of society. In fact I would say there was no one from the public who was under 25 (closer to 30 really). Many of the views from those against the planning application were on the harm to the landscape, wrong location, too many supermarkets already in Truro, harm to excisting businesses and highways issues. Out of the people who spoke 33 were against this. The supporters were infavour because of the improving of the traffic congestion; especially for commuters, job creation, better business opportunities which it was claimed would good for Truro’s economy. These points and similar points were made by the 19 people who spoke in support of the application. Interesting in that the RCHT sent an official who was in support of the application. This was backed up with support by SITA. The City Council also made comment, and these comments were not in support of the application. I got the general feeling there were more of the no camp in the chamber than the yes camp. However, is this a correct representation of the general population of the local and wider area? This is always hard to tell as most people seemed not bothered until something comes to their own backyard. I guess that’s planning for you!

Changes to planning requirements for renewable technologies in domestic dwellings

From 1 December 2011, changes to planning legislation mean that some renewable technologies will no longer require planning permission if located on or within domestic dwellings. These include solar PV, stand-alone solar, ground source heat pumps, water source heat pumps, flues to biomass heating systems and air source heat pumps. Some conditions apply, and there may still be instances where planning permission is required. Please note that technologies will still require planning if they are within the curtilage of a listed building, and that listed building consent matters are not affected by these new freedoms.

Concerns raised by English Heritage over cut backs to local authority staffing

IHBC’s website.

Trevarno estate put up for sale

Penzance Harbour scheme management board team chosen

For the latest on PenzanceHarbour follow ‘Friends of’ at also Penzance Seafront Forum to register an interest or support their aims.

Protecting our coast and countryside: How the community can influence planning policy

A public discussion between Cornwall Planners, Politicians and Roseland Community Organisations,

Portscatho Memorial Hall, 7.00pm Tuesday 11 October 2011
The Coalition Government is proposing big changes in planning legislation. One recommendation is that Planning Departments and Planning Officers should in future favour development. At the same time, the Government proposes giving greater powers to local people. Local communities which do not voice their opinions will be presumed to be in favour of development. The intention is to speed up the planning process, build more houses and boost the economy. If these changes go through, what will happen in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, such as the Roseland, where the pressure for more development is intense?

There is an urgent need for a thorough discussion of the Government’s plans. In addition, we need to understand the implications of proposed changes in Cornwall Council’s planning policy and its potential impact on the Roseland. Above all, we need to know the steps our community can take to influence planning policy locally. The Friends of Pendower Beach are hosting a public meeting to discuss all these issues with speakers Matthew Taylor – former MP for Truro and St Austell, now Lord Taylor of Goss Moor;  Phil Mason – Head of Service for Planning & Regeneration, Cornwall Council; David Edmondson – Area Chief Planning Officer, Cornwall Council; June Crosland/Colette Holden – Cornwall AONB Partnership; Michael Calder/Paul Walton – The National Trust; Julian German – our local Cornwall Councillor. Followed by question and answer session

You can download from the Truro Eastern District Centre website a document which, among other things, offers a revealing insight into the thoughts of the developers of the Truro Eastern District Centre.

The numbers of historic environment specialists in local authorities published today shows an accelerating drop at a time when there has been an increase in planning applications for them to manage. Local authorities have a key role in ensuring that the historic environment is protected and valued for the benefit of local people and visitors alike and the loss of expertise will have a direct effect on the places that local communities treasure. The fact that in the past year there has been an overall reduction of 11.9% of historic environment members of staff in England, with a reduction of 13.5% for conservation officers and 8.9% for archaeological officers is therefore of great concern.

Redevelopment of Pendower Beach Hotel, GerransBay.

Visit to see the views of the Friends of Pendower Beach  


Fancy a move to Cornwall? Then two important Cornish houses could be yours. Peregrine Hall near Lostwithiel by George Edmund Street 

and the 15th-century St Benet’s Abbey near Bodmin

Interesting document issued by Cornwall Council ‘The Cornish Building Stone and Slate Guide’ 

Kestle Barton, CBG main award winner 2011, wins Green Apple Award 2011 for The Built Environment and Architectural Heritage.


Carlyon Bay Development


Cornwall councillors have voted unanimously in favour of a major development at Carlyon Bay in St Austell. ‘Restoration work has ‘saved’ buildings

Stoke Climsland and Launceston restorations were recognised at the Cornish Buildings Group Awards in a ceremony at Liskeard’s Stuart House. Pendragon House in Stoke Climsland and LauncestonTown Hall both received special commendations after judges said they displayed the very best in conservation and restoration practice. Paul Holden, chairman of the CBG, said: “The length people go to in restoring old buildings to such high modern standards is heartening and very commendable. “Without a doubt both Pendragon House and LauncestonTown Hall have been saved for future generations to enjoy.” Launceston town clerk Rita Skinner said the council was delighted the judges thought so highly of the work undertaken at the town hall. “We tried hard to conserve the best of the past, while creating a contemporary community venue for Launceston, and the judges, and more importantly the people of Launceston, seem to think we have succeeded,” she continued. She said the work took almost three years from planning to execution, with town councillors involved in every stage. Mrs Skinner said some, such as Brian Hogan, chairman of the properties committee, also had practical building experience, which made their input even more valuable. “The main contractors were Pearce Construction of Barnstaple, and nearly all the sub-contractors were local. This gave local employment and ensured that the money being spent went back into the local economy”.

Simon Crosbie, of architects Le Page, said he was very proud of the job done on Pendragon House on behalf of the whole team and their client. He said: “It was for the refurbishment of the former refectory house which was in a very poor state. The entire external envelope was restored and then the inside was brought back to a family dwelling including a new library.”

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St Columb Rectory


St Columb

It is a shameful situation in that four years after Cornwall Council became aware of the plight of St Columb Rectory still nothing has been done to stem water penetration through a hole in the roof, remove vegetation from the building and secure it against trespass. Despite pressure from the CBG, English Heritage and the Victorian Society, Cornwall Council have failed in their duty of care through a catalogue of delaying tactics. While we await with interest a report on the damage of the past four years worth of neglect (which the CBG have requested a copy under the Freedom of Information Act) it is now clear that Cornwall Council will apply for 80% grant funding from English Heritage. With local council elections potentially delaying the whole process further Cornwall Council will give no pledge that they will even give 20% of the costs.


In March 2013 we have contacted Steve Double, prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay, to pursue the case further into County Hall.

 Letter to Cornwall Council, the Victorian Society,
English Heritage and SAVE.
The Cornish Buildings Group are taking a strong stance on safegaurding the future of this fine rectory because our members and Council feel that this is a important grade 2* listed structure. As a group we are primarily distressed that this moated rectory by William White, a building on the Heritage at Risk register, is at present neither watertight nor secure to trespass. Our secondary concern is for its long-term future.

We are aware and appreciate that CC, EH and VS are taking this situation seriously and are not for one moment suggesting that parties are ‘sitting on your hands’. However, the situation regarding water ingress was first drawn to our attention in October 2010 and, despite much debate, has yet to be resolved. The situation, as we see it, is that we have a group of well meaning people with clipboards all looking at a hole in the roof with no authority to authorise a repair. Meanwhile the house is getting seriously damaged. Furthermore, internet evidence also shows that Urban Explorers are entering the building at will, a situation that curiously has been encouraged by the VS who have tweeted the links. Clearly this heightens the risk of arson of vandalism.  

We hope as the complex issue of custodianship develops that a more radical approach is adopted. Yet, in the short-term we are urging for essential works to be carried out on the building or for a repairs notice or charge to be implemented. It is our opinion that repairs would not be an onerous task indeed, a day on site is probably all it would take to see the building through the winter. Such commitment to this high-profile structure may well convince critics that CC are at least caring for our heritage.

A long term solution, we appreciate, is more of a challenge however we hope that serious consideration can be given towards forcing the sale of the property or that a future solution can be detrmined, perhaps through the Buildings Preservation Trust.

 We would very much appreciate a response to this email, or an acknowledgement that works will promptly ensue, before our next Council meeting on Thursday 6 December where we will discuss the matter further and determine our next course of action. 

 Yours Sincerely

Paul Holden, FSA

Chair, Cornish Buildings Group

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Heritage at Risk Register

We are very interested in creating a heritage at risk register for buildings are in some danger of loss or neglect. Please let us know any other buildings that you think may fit into this category.

Padstow Railway Station: railway heritage


The Cornish Buildings Group have been saddened by reports of the possible demolition of the Padstow railway station.  Although one could never class it as an outstanding building of its period, it does however represent a solid and pleasing example of early 20th Century railway architecture. It has been argued that this particular station is just one of a very large number of similar buildings erected by the London and South Western Railway Company along its line from Waterloo. Originally this was true, but, since the closure of the route, very few survive that have not been radically altered or demolished.

Padstow station has a greater significance, in that it represented the western terminus of the London and South Western Railway, for many years witnessing the daily arrival of the Atlantic Coast Express from Waterloo.  It was this direct route to London that opened up fast access to the Billingsgate fish market, ensuring that Padstow fishermen could guarantee the sale of their catches while still fresh.Quite apart form the fish trade, the line also put Padstow on the map as a tourist destination, leading to the building of the hotel, now known as The Metropole.  In so doing, it altered the perception of the town (for better or worse), which now continues into our present days of mass motor-car ownership.

Many who lived in Padstow before the Beeching cuts, will remember the convenience of the through trains to London, and the delightful feeling of ‘coming home’ as the train covered the last few miles, twisting along the Camel.  Many a school boy or girl must still remember the near anarchy that presided in the local train as it ferried its rombustious cargo to and from Wadebridge School.

Yet nostalgia is probably not an adequate reason for urging the retention of a redundant building, (especially as those who knew it in its former life as a railway station are a declining breed).  One must be positive, for surely a building, which sits at the end of the Camel Trail, and is thus passed by tens of thousands of cyclists and walkers as they approach Padstow, could be put to further profitable use.  In these days of ‘sustainability’, it does not make sense to demolish a perfectly sound and attractive building when so many good uses could be found for it, by anybody with an entrepreneurial spirit.

We have written to the Planning Officer for a comment.


The Forge at Barcelona near Pelynt: a rare building type 



Foster Hall, Bodmin: by Silvanus Trevail 


A chance to recognise Foster Hall as an important building worthy of saving exists through the Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan for Bodmin of which is open to public consultation until 1st February 2013.

The existing Conservation Appraisal for Bodmin was undertaken in 2000. Cornwall Council has been reviewing Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans for several towns and villages over the last 5 years in order to keep the documents up to date with current national legislation and guidance.

The document can be viewed at here


The Isolation Hospital, part of Foster Complex, demolished in 2010


Foster Complex, demolished 2013

Redruth Fire Station, grade 2 listed


Lowere Fore Street, Redruth. In heart of a conservation area

Carharrack Methodist Church, 1815, grade 2* listed 


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The Last Days of the Foster Complex,Bodmin







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Our Fight to Save the Foster Complex, Bodmin

27 July 2013
Should English Heritage have absolute rule in the designation of historic assets?The Foster Complex, near Bodmin, is a complete early 19th century hospital complex, built in the Edwardian Baroque style and the last work of Cornwall’s greatest architect Silvanus Trevail. It is also very close to demolition.

In the House of Lords last week Baroness Northover called the building a ‘unique hospital’. Nicholas Trench, Earl of Clancarty, added that its demolition was pure ‘vandalism’ and went onto describe the ‘chaos’ left by an inadequate planning system where important heritage assets can be lost without planning permission or public consultation.

The Cornish Buildings Group has applied three times to English Heritage to get Foster designated. In support of listing are the Ancient Monuments Society, Cornwall Council, SAVE Britain’s Heritage and local groups such as the Silvanus Trevail and Old Cornwall Societies. Yet, despite such heavyweight support English Heritage refuse to give any statutory protection to the buildings which would save it, or parts of it, from the bulldozers.

Paul Holden, Chairman of the Cornish Buildings Group, said ‘The hospital is a local landmark, a very fine piece of architecture and key to the town’s social identity. It is a great tragedy that in this age of ‘localism’ the voice of local communities is ignored and when ‘sustainability’ is at the forefront of social and economic debate that good quality architecture cannot be reused for residential or commercial purposes.’ Dr James Whetter, Chairman of the Silvanus Trevail Society, added ‘It seems to us that they are an important part of Cornwall’s heritage and should be valued in the way that the Duchy Palace buildings are at Lostwithiel and which have been recently restored by the Princes Regeneration Trust and Cornwall Buildings Preservation Trust’.

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage has written to the Group to commend  their efforts ‘…to secure what is undoubtedly a building of considerable local significance and resonance’ but goes onto say ‘English Heritage are always mindful of the opinions of others, and carefully consider these in formulating our advice’. Despite these words English Heritage has not met or entered into any meaningful dialogue with interested parties, nor have they considered the unique qualities of the architecture in the context of the locality.

 The demolition of the Foster Complex was determined through a screening opinion process, the result of which saw Cornwall Council permit its demolition without any planning permission, environmental impact assessment or public consultation. Although the hospital does not sit in a conservation area it is on a local list which, in hindsight, gives it no protection at all. 

Piloti, in Private Eye magazine, suggested that English Heritage has got it wrong, a sentiment shared by Mathew Saunders of the Ancient Monuments Society who said ‘The refusal to list in this case galls because equally good Trevail buildings have been awarded listing. Even now, we urge that at least the fore building and the Foster Hall be added to the statutory lists. Mr Holden added ‘It is shameful that so many learned and relevant opinions have been ignored, surely a more transparent and engaging designation system should be looked into where localism and unique architectural quality stands for something’.

The owners Community 1st Cornwall have refused offers for local groups to take responsibility for the buildings in the hope that they can play a community use in the future. Once gone there are no plans afoot to develop the site.

Mr Holden concluded ‘This is a great loss to the architectural make-up of Cornwall, a great social loss for Bodmin and the needless obliteration of a rare building type. English Heritage, in this case, has shown an appalling ignorance of provincial architectural style and the concept of localism in general’.

 PRESS RELEASE CORNISH BUILDINGS GROUP 26 July 2013The fight to save the Foster Complex went all the way to the House of Lords this week. Prompted by prominent coverage in Country Life and Private Eye magazines, Nick Trench, the Earl of Clancarty used the Foster Complex as an example of the ‘vandalism’ of needless demolition and the ‘chaos’ left by an inadequate planning system where important heritage assets can be lost without planning permission or public consultation. He concluded that ‘the arts will be the loser in all of this’.

The Cornish Buildings Group, who have led the fight to save the Edwardian hospital near Bodmin, have been unable to get the buildings listed despite support from Cornwall Council, the Ancient Monuments Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage. Paul Holden, Chairman of the group said ‘His Lordship has raised this as a national disgrace and one English Heritage should be ashamed of. It does seem crazy that in this age of sustainability that buildings of this quality cannot be reused for residential or commercial purposes’.

Efforts to save elements of the Foster site are still ongoing by the Cornish Buildings Group and Foster Hall Revival Trust’. A booklet on the architectural and social history of Foster can be found on the Revival Trust’s website.

‘Mr Holden added ‘Although it is late in the day we are still hoping for a satisfactory solution, a situation not helped by Community 1st Cornwall who have twice refused requests to retain elements of the structure for future community use’.

Read the debate in the House of Lords here

Letter from Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, to the Cornish Buildings Group reference the listing the the Foster Complex.

Dear Mr Holden

Re: Foster Complex, Bodmin

Thank you for your recent emails posing questions about the listing process, and highlighting the Cornish Buildings Group’s campaign to save the Foster Complex.  The efforts of the Group to secure what is undoubtedly a building of considerable local significance and resonance is to be commended.  It might, however, be helpful to respond to the points raised in your email of 13 July 2013 about the role of local groups in determining buildings for listing. English Heritage act as statutory advisers to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and undertakes the administration of the listing process.  In making our assessment we are bound by the criteria for listing which are enshrined in the Planning (ListedBuildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.  In making a decision, the Secretary of State is only allowed to take into account a building’s special architectural or historic interest.  English Heritage are always mindful of the opinions of others, and carefully consider these in formulating our advice.  It is the case though that our advice must necessarily be impartial and must be considered in the wider national context.  The National Planning Policy Framework sets a clear agenda for local authorities who are enjoined to consider the significance of all historic assets before taking decisions which affect their future.  It is in this context that the considerable local significance which attaches to the Foster Complex should be considered, and Local Lists have a part to play too in celebrating this local value.  In this instance, having looked at the case for the listing of the Foster Complex twice, it has been our conclusion that the building did not meet the criteria for listing.I appreciate that this will be disappointing to the Group, but wish you well in your efforts to secure a local solution for the building.

Yours sincerely
Simon Thurley

Last Hope for Iconic Bodmin Landmark

 The Cornish Buildings Group has asked the owners of the Foster Complex near Bodmin to consider saving elements of the building from demolition for future community use. Paul Holden, Chairman of the Cornish Buildings Group said ‘We have tried our very best to save the whole complex as we feel it is an important part of Bodmin’s social and architectural history. However, we how have to accept that the building is being stripped out and its future hangs in the balance. We very much hope that the owners, Community First Cornwall, will consider retaining the front block and the Foster Hall which, we feel, will add historic quality to any future development on that site’.

The potential demolition of this landmark building on the hospital site near Bodmin has been controversial from the start. The Cornish Buildings Group have tried unsuccessfully to get the site listed by English Heritage on three separate occasions, attempted to get the conservation area taken up to the site during the recent appraisal and challenged Cornwall Council’s ‘screening opinion’ process which determined that the Foster Complex could be demolished without any planning permission, environmental impact assessment or public consultation’.

 A spokesman from the Ancient Monuments Society said ‘This is all so sad – as a really interesting building by one of the county’s great architectural sons, and one surrounded by local goodwill faces needless oblivion’ a sentiment shared by SAVE Britain’s Heritage.  Mr Holden added ‘Despite our active campaigning with support of the Foster Hall Revival Trust and several independent parties, we have not at present been able to reverse the decision to demolish. It was a great shame that public consultation was not part of the legal process, who knows public pressure may gone some way in saving the buildings. The Cornish Buildings Group feel that our best chance now is to speak with the developers direct in the hope that goodwill will prevail. Failing that we are asking that a full building record be carried so that future historians will understand the building and have a photographic record’.

The Foster Complex belongs to Community First Cornwall but is leased by Cornwall NHS Trust. The site has become increasingly derelict over the last decade through neglect, and it consequently has become a cash drain on the National Health Service. Community First Cornwall and Foster Hall Revival Trust have tried to find a future use for the buildings but to date no-one has come forward with any plausible business case. Despite this there is a strong feeling amongst statutory consultees, Cornwall Council and local groups that these buildings could, once again, return to a community use, indeed, works carried out at Duchy Palace in Lostwithiel by the Princes Regeneration Trust and Cornwall Building Preservation Trust prove that it can work.

Mr Holden summed up the situation ‘It seems quite ridiculous that buildings of this quality can be demolished with no future plans to develop the site. What happened to sustainable buildings? The need for low-cost housing ─ surely re-using historic assets is environmentally friendly and cost-effective? I wonder if all solutions have been explored such as speaking to developers, engaging fully with Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service and statutory consultees, local building Trusts and interest groups? It is so sad that such iconic buildings will be lost and that the site will remain empty and undeveloped for many years to come. We feel this complex is of huge regional significance. It is architecturally important and is the last work of one of the county’s most famous sons, Silvanus Trevail. It ties together the hospital site linking other listed buildings in the locality such as the radial block and Governor’s House. All in all it is a building well worth saving even if it is only part of the overall scheme. We are asking Community First Cornwall to live up to their company title, to put Bodmin communities first and retain two elements of a structure that has defined the town for over a century’.

The Cornish Buildings Group would very much like to hear your memories of the Foster Complex or see any photographs that you may have in order to create an oral and pictorial record of the site and its history. Please make contact at or visit our website

 Support for our campaign to save Foster

Can we urge Community First Cornwall to keep the frontage block at St Lawrence’s. 
Whatever the decision of EH on its listability, its quality in terms of craftsmanship and design is clear. It is the considered work of the county’s great architectural son, Silvanus Trevail and is clearly a building that means a great deal to many local people.
The front building and the hall behind are also eminently re-useable. It is sheer waste to destroy them. Provided any proposal were underpinned by a clear-headed Business Plan, retention and conversion could well be attractive to funders, including those administering the proceeds of the National Lottery – Big and HLF.
Even now, we urge that these buildings be retained in community use and be not destroyed.
Can I also express our appreciation of your willingness to listen to the arguments against demolition and to give them careful consideration ; that is handsome of you.
Matthew Saunders MBE
Ancient Monuments Society

We are concerned about the future of the Foster Complex at Bodmin, an iconic group of buildings that are under threat. It seems to us that they are an important part of Cornwall’s heritage and should be valued in the way that the DuchyPalace buildings are at Lostwithiel and which are currently being restored. Obviously a use has to be found for them now that they are redundant as far as the Health Authorities are concerned. Having regard to their attractive and central situation, the lay out of the buildings, with space in front and between them, perhaps an educational or academic role could be found for them. We are thinking in particular of the buildings using red brick and terra cotta in the front area. These materials were made at Henry Dennis’s Ruabon works in north Wales. A partner for the complex is Laninval house on the road west of Bodmin which use the same materials and was designed by Silvanus Trevail as a retirement home for Dennis who originated from Bodmin. It is a care home now and perhaps that is perhaps another possible use for the complex. We believe something that is of benefit and long term value for the people of Cornwall should be made of these historic buildings which should at all costs be preserved. If we can be of any help with any plans, please let us know.

Yours sincerely, 

Dr. James Whetter (Chairman, Silvanus Trevail Society)

Has Foster Hall had its Day?

In the wake of the screening opinion notification for the demolition of the undesignated Foster Hall, near Bodmin, the Cornish Buildings Group are making every effort save the heritage asset. 

 Our letter to Cornwall Council in full.

Dear Mr Wigley 

Ref. Foster Complex, St Lawrence’s Hospital, Bodmin, Cornwall. Screening Opinion PA13/02287 

On behalf of the Council and members of the Cornish Buildings Group and with full support from the Foster Hall Revival Trust I am writing to formally request that a full Environmental Impact Assessment be completed prior to any consideration towards demolition of the Foster Complex, St Lawrence’s Hospital, Bodmin, Cornwall.

In 2004 Cornwall Council tried to get this building listed (ref. G/46/BOD, dated 22 March 2004) but was rejected based on the assumption that the Cornish architect Silvanus Trevail could not have been fully responsible for the whole design based on the fact that he died in 1903, a year before the construction of the hospital. I also understand that a further application supported by, amongst others, the Ancient Monuments Society, Cornwall Heritage Trust and the Cornwall Association of Local Historians was rejected later the same year. The CBG re-applied for listing status in 2011 but again it was rejected based on the fact that the criteria for listing had not changed significantly. We will make further representations to English Heritage, the Victorian Society and SAVE to push a future listing.

In addition, we recently fed back into the Bodmin Conservation Area Assessment Consultation that the conservation area could be extended to Foster Hall in order to give it some statutory protection. I trust that through this consultation that Foster Hall will find/ or has found a place on Cornwall Council’s Local List. 

To support our request for listing we drew on two significant factors that have come into play over the last few years. First, was the recent publication of Ronald Perry and Hazel Harradence, book Silvanus Trevail: Cornish Architect and Entrepreneur, (Francis Boutle, 2008). This book, for the first time, created a full catalogue of Trevail’s work. This work has confirmed beyond doubt that the buildings were built as per Trevail’s plans now held at the Cornwall Record Office in Truro (140 sheets AD396/172, AD396/284). Furthermore as £22,000 had been spent on the buildings before Trevail’s death it is clear that work was progressing well and that Trevail was in charge, as shown in the Cornish Guardian 22 July 1897 which records his resignation from the County Council to focus on his role as hospital architect. 

Second, a couple of years ago part of this complex, the Bodmin Hospital Isolation ward, was demolished without prior warning. Without an Environmental Impact Assessment we are concerned that the remaining parts of the Foster Block, rest around the buildings not being listed or the area will be lost in a similar way. The CBG believe that the Foster Complex remains a good example of Trevail’s work and one that, at this present time, appears to be at risk from demolition. Trevail, a President of the Society of Architects, remains Cornwall’s most prolific and significant architect of the period with some 28 buildings already being listed apart from church restorations. It is of great concern to the CBG Council that several buildings by this much admired Cornishman have been demolished in recent years. We feel that the Foster Complex has buildings of both architectural merit and great social interest. Indeed, Foster Hall defines the old hospital site which also envelopes other listed buildings by George Wightwick, a pupil of John Foulston who was the architect of the radial asylum block that was severely damaged by fire in 2005 and has since been demolished. 

We hope that Trevail’s buildings can be spared from demolition in order to safeguard the integrity of the whole site. It is difficult to determine how this ‘screening opinion’ process actually works so we feel that it would be a tragic loss if we did not mount a challenge to Cornwall Council to pursue this matter further and create full dialogue prior to any commencement of works. We also hope that despite the building’s non-designation status that it will find an element of protection through the National Planning Policy Framework where buildings as this are defined as ‘heritage assets’. 

The CBG followed the Court of Appeal case regarding Mitchells Brewery with some interest and hopefully, in the case of Foster Hall, has set some precedent in preventing its immediate demolition.

Based on the above the Cornish Buildings Group respectfully request that you will keep us in the loop regarding further developments in the case of Foster Hall. 

Yours sincerely 

Paul Holden, FSA 

Chairman Cornish Buildings Group

The Silvanus Trevail Society have commented

‘Silvanus Trevail is one of Cornwall’s greatest architechtural sons. He was a titanic figure in the political and architectural affairs of the county and the Silvanus Trevail Society would say that this major commission which survives largely unaltered should enjoy the benefit of protection. We feel strongly that the Foster is an evocative part of the complex of buildings on this site. Why should the buildings of 1818, 1838 and 1845 deserve protection whereas those of 1903 do not. 1903 is now considered three generations away – and more than 100 years. Why should an iconic building of this age be treated more harshly that its late Georgian/early Victorian predecessors?

Comparing the Foster complex with the Headland Hotel, Newquay which is listed, it is hard to see why the former is denied protection. Both share the use of Plymouth limestone for the shell and rich red terracotta for the dressings. The Asylum as a whole featured as a large part of the lives of all those within Cornwall for over 100 years, not only as a place of incarceration, but of refuge, recovery and work. Many people today have fond memories of working in such a magnificent building and consider it to be an important landmark in Mid-Cornwall.

Maybe time should be taken by those ‘in control’ to stand back and look at the building, just to see and take in the heritage they are so hell-bent on destroying’.

Dear Mr Holden,
Bodmin Hospital, Boundary Road, Bodmin, Bodmin
Thank you for your application of 11 May 2012 to add the above building to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
The Foster Complex at St Lawrence Hospital, Bodmin, Cornwall was assessed for designation in 2004 and the decision was made that it did not meet the criteria for listing. I have attached a copy of the advice report which was written for this assessment for your records. As the building has already been assessed for listing we would not be able to re-assess it unless substantial new information was provided about its architectural or historic interest. The information you have supplied in this application does not constitute substantial new information and so at this time we are unable to validate your application.
    You mention in your application that the influence of Silvanus Trevail was not properly assigned in the original assessment. However, the advice report supplied demonstrates that his authorship of the complex was clearly acknowledged in the original assessment.
     If you have any questions, or have substantial new information to supply please contact my colleague, Ms Rachel Williams, on 0117 975 0675 or at , quoting our reference 473340. Further information can also be found on our website at
     If we do not hear from you within 28 days, we will close the case. We look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely
Heather Gordon
Assistant Designation Adviser- West
 English Heritage
Designation Team West
29 Queen Square

May 2012

Concerns raised over demolition of Bodmin Isolation Hospital, St Lawrence’s Hospital, Bodmin. Letter passed to English Heritage to ask for consideration to spot list the Foster Complex.

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