Coverack Dawn in winter


Coverack... A New Dawn

A village out of the holiday season is not as quiet as it seems. Just because the car parks have spaces, a few dogs and their owners walk along the empty beach, dodging the foaming tideline, and the pub is the only place open to sit and pass the time of day; don't be fooled...there's much going on in the resident community.

There are a number of motivated committees, made up of locals, giving their time and expertise to examine ways in which we can improve and meet the needs of the general good of the community. The most challenging, the Neighbourhood Development Plan, is focussing on a strategy for the economic, social and environmental future of the parish. And secondly, is campaign to raise funds to save our village hall.

The Neighbourhood Development Plan is a glimmer of positive news as individual parishes can influence the future planning for their community and decide a policy to protect green spaces, schools, GP surgeries, and the kind of housing required. Provided this isn't a ploy to placate 'objectors', it is a powerful opportunity to plan for the future. Parish councils are being encouraged to promote the scheme to genuinely reflect their community's needs. A number have already submitted their plans and I'm delighted to say that St. Keverne is in early stages of their project. We are desperate for affordable housing and it will be a priority of the enthusiastic, volunteer committee to identify sites for genuine local needs, not to be used by developers.

Looking across the bay towards the harbour, apart from the pub lights, there are few signs of life. The reason for this is simply; 60% are empty because they're second homes or holiday lets. It's become increasingly difficult for ordinary families to live in the village in which they grew up. Cornwall has one of the biggest differentials between house prices and income. House prices have risen while earnings remained fairly stable. It stands to reason that families on low, or even modest income are squeezed out of the housing market while prices escalate and the right kind of housing stock fails to grow. Bizarrely, the perpetrators of this situation are the planners and idiosyncratic policies that allow properties to be built as 'in fill'. These properties are unaffordable and superfluous.

Saving Coverack's village hall has been a notional intention, to the point of whimsy, for years. We have a charming word that sums up a Cornish approach to getting things done; d'reckly. If we were Spanish, mañana means the same... it will be done, but in the indefinite future. The village hall has been threatening to slide down a grassy bank into the sea for years as there are serious problems with the foundations. The interior has become tired after years of use and updating and refurbishing is needed. However, the new energetic, pro-active committee is determined to make the village hall a place to be proud of. But to do this, £15,000 is needed and the committee is asking for donations through a Crowdfunding appeal

The land on which the hall was built is known as the Battery or the Lambeage, was purchased for £75 from the Ellis family. The funds to buy the green were raised by a village committee in January 1919; the land was a public open space, where local ladies dried their washing, children played and the church held its summer Tea Treat. The hall was opened in 1922, as a tribute and meeting place for men of the armed forces who'd served their country; originally Coverack Branch of the Comrades of the Great War, and later, Royal British Legion. The hall has been a vibrant hub for local clubs, parties, dances and entertainment; but time and constant hammering from storms and gales means the hall is showing its age and there's a risk that the building will became unsafe. Here we are in 2019, a century to date, and another village committee is raising funds to secure Lambeage's future.... nothing changes, does it?

My personal connection is through the Horticultural Show; the first Show was held there in 1954; I should point out I'm not THAT old! But I love the way the old, wooden hall is brought to life on Show day with chatter and gossip over the clink of tea cups, set against a backdrop of colourful flowers, the smell of freshly baked bread and amazing vegetables. A truly village affair, connecting the past with the present, in an much loved place.

So what does lie beneath the slumbering of a village in the quiet times? We're not hibernating, so don't be misled by the empty houses... it's an exciting time for a forward- looking community. Just like tender buds, sleeping under cold ground, we take a while to wake up, but when we do...well, wait and see!

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