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Virginia Woolf scholar Nell Toemen was visiting St. Ives this week and sent Blogging Woolf the accompanying photo of Talland House, where local residents Chris and Angela Roberts are sprucing up the garden.

For more on visiting St. Ives, see In Her Steps.

Talland House, St. Ives, Cornwall

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Despite opposition from Woolfians worldwide, the destruction of Virginia Woolf’s view of Godrevy Lighthouse from Godrevy LighthouseTalland House is set to move forward, according to a Nov. 7, 2015, story in The Independent.

The proposed multi-story development of six flats and a car park will be built, thanks to a decision by Cornwall County Council that the development can move forward once Porthminster Beach View Ltd. pays £136,000 for not having to provide any “affordable housing.”

The move comes after Woolf scholars and common readers from around the globe raised an outcry last summer, using email, social media and the Web. Their efforts generated media coverage that included the BBC and resulted in the Cornwall Council Planning Committee postponing its decision on the project.

The construction project was further stalled in early August when the English High Court threw out 2014 legislation that said developments of 10 or less could avoid paying an affordable-housing levy or offering any such housing in their development.  The August ruling meant that the developer of the St. Ives project must rethink the economic viability of the project and resubmit it — or pay £136,000.

With the Cornwall County Council decision that the development can take place once the fee is paid, it is unlikely the project can be stopped, despite an outcry from Woolf readers and scholars, as well as her family members.

This appears to be the case despite an email from English Heritage saying legislation includes a provision to “avoid harm to the setting of a listed building if it contributes to the significance of the building.” Talland House is considered Grade II, which means it is “nationally important and of special interest.  The St. Ives resident cited National Planning Framework Section 12 paras. 128,9,132 and noted that he would add this information to the planning comments page for the project, PA15/04337.

Woolf and her family summered at Talland House for the first 12 years of her life. The lighthouse she could see from her summer home plays an integral role in her famous novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

This is a short-sighted move by St Ives and Cornwall’s planners, who seem unaware of the legions of Woolf’s admirers who make the pilgrimage to the town lured by the special, untouched atmosphere captured in my great-aunt’s visionary novel To the Lighthouse – the view of which should remain unobscured for generations to come. – Virginia Nicholson, Woolf’s great-niece

Links to more about the view

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Encouraging news has arrived from the UK. The proposed development that threatened to destroy Virginia Woolf’s view Godrevy Lighthouseof Godrevy Lighthouse from Talland House, has stalled.

The move comes after Woolf scholars and common readers from around the globe raised an outcry using email, social media and the Web. Their efforts generated media coverage that included the BBC and resulted in the Cornwall Council Planning Committee postponing its decision on the project.

Now a helpful source from Cornwall Council emailed this news to Woolf scholar Maggie Humm:  “The application has been affected by the affordable housing changes…at this stage the application is not likely to go to the planning committee.”

Here’s what this means. In November 2014, the Conservative (Tory) Party ruled that developments of 10 or less could avoid paying an affordable-housing levy or offering any such housing in their development.  Humm said this provision offered licence for any developer.

In early August, the High Court threw out this legislation, so the developer of the St. Ives project, which included a six-story block of six flats and a car park to be constructed in front of Talland House, must rethink the economic viability of the project and resubmit it.

In addition, a local resident forwarded Blogging Woolf an email from English Heritage saying legislation includes a provision to “avoid harm to the setting of a listed building if it contributes to the significance of the building.” Talland House is considered Grade II, which means it is “nationally important and of special interest.  The St. Ives resident cited National Planning Framework Section 12 paras. 128,9,132 and noted that he would add this information to the planning comments page for the project, PA15/04337.

Woolf and her family summered at Talland House for the first 12 years of her life. The lighthouse she could see from her summer home plays an integral role in her famous novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

Plus here is more good news that indicates the St. Ives Town Council may be taking the preservation of local history more seriously: The Council recently voted down a different application to build on an ancient site.

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Woolfians around the globe have succeeded in saving the view of the lighthouse — for now.

Screenshot from 7/222/15 BBC Entertainment & Arts page

Screenshot from 7/222/15 BBC Entertainment & Arts page

They used email and social media to temporarily halt action on the ill-conceived construction plan that would destroy the view of Godrevy Lighthouse from Talland House, Virginia Woolf’s childhood summer home in St. Ives, Cornwall. The lighthouse is also a key element in Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

Cornwall Council was scheduled to vote on the plan, which calls for building a block of six flats and a car park in front of Talland House, on July 14. But according to stories in the Western Morning News and BBC Cornwall, that vote will take place at a later date.

Virginia Woolf fans spread word of the ill-conceived plan via the VWoolf Listserv, the email lists of the International Virginia Woolf Society (IVWS) and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and through social media. The British society has also posted the news on its website under the heading “Save Woolf’s Talland House View.”

The IVWS put Western Morning News reporter David Wells in touch with Woolf scholars and connected BBC reporter Miles O. Davis with Cecil Woolf, Virginia and Leonard’s nephew. Cecil spoke out on the plan in today’s BBC story and on Blogging Woolf. The main BBC story is posted on the Cornwall section of  the website. A link is also posted on the Entertainment and Arts page. A version of the BBC story also ran in the Observer Chronicle.

Woolfians protested the plan by sending emails to Cornwall Council and St. Ives Town Council, posting comments on the plan, posting messages on the Cornwall Council Facebook page and tweeting to Cornwall Council @CornwallCouncil. They also contacted West Cornwall’s Minister of Parliament Derek Thomas via Twitter and email and tweeted to @EnglishHeritage for assistance.

By this morning, 66 comments against the plan, which would destroy a vital piece of literary history, were posted on the application from developer Porthminster Beach View Ltd. that is now before Cornwall Council. Talland House is considered of historical importance, as it is listed Grade II.

The decision on whether to approve or reject the plans will be made by Cornwall Council on a date to be decided. — BBC Cornwall story, “Virginia Woolf relatives defend view ‘To The Lighthouse'”

Add your voice to protect the historic view

To submit your objections to the plan, send an email to planning@cornwall.gov.uk. Include the planning application number: PA15/04337 in your message.

You can also post a comment on the planning application at this link, but you must register first. To do so, you are required to have a UK postal code. One Woolfian ant the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain suggested using the Talland House postal code, which is TR26 2EH.

Here is a comment posted by Vanessa Curtis, author of Virginia Woolf’s Women and The Hidden Houses of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

I’m saddened to read of this latest threat to such an important part of our literary heritage. Already Talland House, the beautiful listed building so loved by Virginia Woolf and her family, is boxed in by other modern developments which should not have had planning permission granted, but this latest application appears to perhaps be the worst of all. The patch of land that the proposed apartments will be built upon was once owned by Leslie Stephen, Woolf’s father. He took out a 100 year lease on the land to prevent anybody building on it and spoiling his view out towards Godrevy Lighthouse. Please, please do not let the greed of developers wipe out our literary heritage and further ruin the spectacularly attractive coastline of this part of the world. As one drives into St Ives now, the dominant view is no longer that of the Victorian buildings around Talland House, but of various high-rise blocks which would look more at home in inner-city London than overlooking the stunning sweep of Porthminster Beach.

For more details on the plan currently under consideration by Cornwall Council, visit this post: View from Talland House threatened by planned development

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Godrevy Lighthouse

Photo: Blogging Woolf

Editor’s Note: See July 22, 2015, update, Virginia Woolf fans save the view — for now

The view Virginia Woolf had of the Cornish coast is under threat by the proposed construction of a six-story block of six flats and a car park.

As a member of the Stephen family, Woolf summered in St. Ives for the first 12 years of her life, staying at Talland House. Her visits there — and the view of Godrevy Lighthouse from their summer home — formed the backdrop as well as the inspiration for her famous novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

Now that view, as well as a piece of important literary history, may be wiped out if construction plans proposed by developer Porthminster Beach View Ltd. are approved by Cornwall Council. The property in question is located south of Chy An Porth The Terrace St Ives Cornwall TR26 2BP in the East Ward of St. Ives Parish.

Cecil Woolf, Leonard’s nephew and owner of Cecil Woolf Publishers of London, weighed in on the subject via email. In his July 15 message, he wrote:

About the proposal to build a block of six flats and a car park in front of Talland House, which should, of course, be protected by English Heritage — I am appalled. This is sheer vandalism and should be stopped now.

Background and history of the proposal

St. Ives Town Council approved the proposed construction plan by a vote of 6-5 when it came up for consideration on May 25, 2015, according to an email Tamsyn Williams, Councillor and former St. Ives Deputy Mayor, sent to Blogging Woolf on July 13 in response to our protest email.

In a follow-up email she sent at 2:48 a.m. EST on July 14, she said the Council was not informed that the new building would interfere with the view from Talland House. If she had known, she said, she would have voted against it. Here is what Williams said in that email:

I wish that I had been alerted to the loss of the view when the application came before us, the town council, back in May so that I could have voted against it on that basis.   But it was not raised as a concern or a possibility. – Tamsyn Williams, Councillor and former St. Ives Deputy Mayor, 14 July 2015 email to Paula Maggio, Blogging Woolf editor

I am including a screenshot of the email within this post because at 12:03 p.m. EST on July 14, Williams emailed me a denial that she made the statement and asked that I remove it from this post. A screenshot of that email is posted below as well.

Screenshot of St. Ives Deputy Mayor Tamsyn Williams's email regarding the vote by St. Ives Town Council on the proposed plan

Screenshot of St. Ives Deputy Mayor Tamsyn Williams’s first 7/14/15email regarding the vote by St. Ives Town Council on the proposed plan

Since then, in a June 16 email, Williams asserted via email that she voted against the project when it came before St. Ives Town Council in May.

Here is what she wrote in that email:

“I have been talking with fellow town councillors and I just wanted you to know that I did vote against this application which is what I felt sure was the case . . .

I do need to point out that loss of view is not a planning consideration in the strictest of terms, albeit so important in this case. If Talland House is listed – and I am not sure whether it is – then it could be argued that the new development would affect the setting of the house, which is slightly different but similar to loss of view, but even then there is so much modern development gone up in that area sadly that even that argument may be dubious.

There was planning permission given for that site a few years ago for an even higher building which is basically why the town council went for this option because it seemed a better alternative. But I did not vote for it.”

Note: Talland House is listed as Grade II. See details below.

Porthminster Beach View Ltd. submitted the planning application to the Cornwall Council on May 8. The Council was expected to make a decision on July 14. However, that decision appears to be delayed, according to this July 15 story in the Western Morning News.

Planning documents are available at this link. They include the application, floor plans, architectural drawings, maps and reports. (Note: The planning website was down from July 14-15, an unfortunate coincidence.)

Screenshot of St. Ives Deputy Mayor Tamsyn Williams’s second email regarding the vote by St. Ives Town Council on the proposed plan

Screenshot of St. Ives Deputy Mayor Tamsyn Williams’s second 7/14/15 email regarding the vote by St. Ives Town Council on the proposed plan

Residents protest

Local residents, many of whom are aware of the area’s literary importance, have lodged complaints against the plans, according to the Western Morning News.

The six-flat construction project is outlines in green on this map, which is part of application PA15/04337. Talland House is located behind it to the left and is labeled as such.

The six-flat construction project is outlined in green on this map, which is part of application PA15/04337. Talland House is located behind it to the left and is labeled as such.

The newspaper reported that St. Ives resident Chris Roberts, who has already written to the council in opposition, said: “It will be an eyesore for one of the few places that is still available to residents of St Ives to be still affordable to live. The building behind is listed* and the view from it was the basis for Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse book.

“The building in front has already damaged this view. People living nearby have to suffer due to the bad road system in the summer, so building works throughout the winter will remove the only bit of calm.”

What the project looks like

As these two screenshots show, the proposed project will have multiple stories that will block the view from Talland House. The multi-story building will have three levels of flats above ground and two levels of parking above ground on one side of the structure. A third parking level will be below ground.

I took these screenshots from the document titled “2014/2472/D01 Location Plan, Proposed Block Plan, Floor Plans and Streetscape,” one of the planning documents that are part of the application posted on the Cornwall Council planning page of the website.

Front view of the proposed project

Cutaway view of the proposed construction project that will block the view from Talland House. It will apparently have five levels above ground.Here is what the area looks like now, according to screenshots of photos included in an environmental impact report posted with the application. It is apparent that nothing currently exists on this site that would block the view.

Bank with a wall and vegetation

Bank with a wall and vegetation

Construction yard

Construction yard

Woolfians worldwide raise their voices in protest

Talland HouseEarlier plans for the construction of $3 million worth of flats near Talland House in 2003, sparked protests from Woolfians around the world, who wrote to object. Let’s hope we can have the same impact this time.

The International Virginia Woolf Society has spread word of the ill-advised project through its listserv and through the VWoolf Listserv. The IVWS sent a letter of objection to the plan to the Cornwall Council and the St. Ives Town Council. Scroll down for those email addresses.

The Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain has been contacted, and that organization has sent an official letter of protest. They are also urging their members to write and have posted a series of updates about the issue on their Facebook page, including images from this blog post.

Other Woolf scholars and readers who have sent protest letters include Vara Neverow and Maggie Humm. You can read their letters by clicking on their names above.

Woolf readers and scholars are also posting comments objecting to the plan on the Cornwall Council’s comments page for PA15/04337. Those objecting include Virginia Nicholson, Woolf’s great-niece; Gill Lowe; Judith Allen; Jeanette McVicker; Vara Neverow; Erin Kingsley; Patrizia Muscogiuri; Maggie Humm, Andre Gerard; Kristin Czarnecki, president of the International Virginia Woolf Society; and Stephen Barkway and Sheila Wilkinson, board members of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain.

At 8 a.m. on July 13, there were 13 public comments posted on the site. Twelve hours later, that number had grown to 38. By July 17 there were 62, all objecting to the plan.

Facebook post from St. Ives resident

Facebook post from St. Ives resident

A St. Ives resident posted the photo at right on Facebook. In it, the red line shows the height of the neighboring buildings. The submitted plan says the new building will obliterate the view up to the red line. This photo was included in David Wells’s July 15 Western Morning News story mentioned below.

Writers chime in

Western Morning News:stories by David Wells:

The Cornishman published two stories as well: “St Ives view that inspired Virginia Woolf to write To the Lighthouse could be ruined by flats” on July 9 and “​’Woolfians’ bark their opposition to flats plan that will ruin lighthouse view” on July 11.

Christopher Frizzelle, editor-in-chief of The Stranger, wrote this article, published July 13: “Virginia Woolf Fans Versus the Developer Who Wants to Block the To the Lighthouse View.”

And The Telegraph picked up on the story, publishing Wells’s piece on July 14: “Iconic view that inspired Virginia Woolf threatened by plan to build flats.”

Add your voice to protect the historic view: Use email, social media, the Web

To submit your objections to the plan, send an email to planning@cornwall.gov.uk. Include the planning application number: PA15/04337 in your message.

You can also post a message on the Cornwall Council Facebook page or tweet a message to Cornwall Council @CornwallCouncil.

You can post a comment on the planning application at this link, but you must register first. To do so, you are required to have a UK postal code. One Woolfian suggested using the Talland House postal code, which is TR26 2EH. I did that and was able to register successfully.

A St. Ives local suggests we tweet Derek Thomas, West Cornwall’s representative in Parliament, asking him to intervene against this ill-advised plan. His contact details are: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, Tel: 020 7219 4435, email: derek.thomas.mp@parliament.uk You can also post a comment on his Facebook page or tweet to him @DerekThomasMP. Cecil Woolf also suggested we contact the MPs for the area and advised that we contact English Heritage as well.

Note about Talland House’s historical importance

*Talland House was included on the UK’s Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest on 22 December 1972. This means it “may not be demolished, extended or altered without special permission from the local planning authority,” according to the British Listed Buildings website. Only about 500,000 buildings in the UK are on the list. Talland House is considered Grade II, which means it is “nationally important and of special interest. Ninety-two percent of all listed buildings are in this class.

Architect's drawings of the existing floor plans and elevations for the proposed development.

Architect’s drawings of the existing floor plans and elevations for the proposed development.

Email St. Ives Council

From Patrizia Muscogiuri: I think it may be a good idea to send emails to St Ives Town Council as well. They may have little saying in terms of granting or denying construction permits on that site but they need to be aware of the fact that there is a whole community of people travelling to their town because of that seascape and heritage connection with Virginia Woolf who are opposing this project. If they are also against it, by letting them know we’ll give them more power if they complain to the Cornwall Council. You can email St Ives Town Council at this address: townclerk@stivestowncouncil.co.uk.

Talland House is part of St Ives East Ward 1. I suggest emailing Tim Andrewes and Tamsyn Williams. Williams also has connections with Tate.

Councillor Tim Andrewes: timandrewes@stivestowncouncil.co.uk
Councillor Tim Andrewes represents St Ives East Ward at Town level and St Ives East Ward at Cornwall Council. At the town council, Councillor Andrewes serves on a number of committees including the Planning Committee and the Community & Environment Committee.

Councillor Tamsyn Williams: tamsynwilliams@stivestowncouncil.co.uk
Councillor Wiliams is the town council’s Deputy Mayor, representing St Ives East Ward and serves on a number of committees including the Planning Committee and the Community & Environment Committee.

Other councillors representing the East Ward:
Councillor Ron Tulley (Community & Environment Committee)
rontulley@stivestowncouncil.co.uk

Councillor Christine Chard (no email address)
Councillor Andrea Parsons (no email address)
Postal addresses and telephone numbers can be found here:
http://stivestowncouncil.co.uk/councillors-4/

Updated: July 10, July 11, July 12, July 13, July 14, July 15, July 16, July 17, and July 22, 2015

Links to past news from Woolf’s Cornwall

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Beach at St. Ives, Cornwall

Porthminster Beach

Virginia Woolf’s good name has been used to sell many things. Now it is being used to sell 76 acres of beachfront property in Cornwall.

Upton Towans beach, near Hayle, is up for auction with a guide price of £50,000, and it is being billed as “the location for Virginia Woolf’s 1927 work To The Lighthouse.”

Well, not exactly. At least as far as I can determine.

Upton Towans beach is situated in the northeast of St. Ives Bay and is known for its surfing. Virginia and her family frequented Porthminster beach on the southern edge of St. Ives, which is a longtime favorite of swimmers, sunbathers and picnickers instead.

If you travel to St. Ives by train, Porthminster beach is the crescent-shaped slice of white sand and blue sea you encounter when you step off the platform. It is a lovely spot, easily reached by foot from Talland House, which Virginia and her family visited each summer until their mother Julia died in May 1895.

remembering st ivesIn Virginia’s time at St. Ives, a path led from Talland House through Primrose Valley, an area filled with gardens and orchards, to the beach. There the Stephen family swam, picnicked and explored the rock pools, according to Virginia Woolf & Vanessa Bell: Remembering St. Ives by Marion Dell and Marion Whybrow.

Their book, published in 2003 by Tabb House Publishers, is a real find for anyone who wants to learn more about Virginia’s favorite spot in Cornwall.

 

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