The history of St Ives is believed to date back to the mid-5th Century taking its name from the daughter of an Irish Chieftain, St Ia, other names St Ives has been known as include the Cornish Porthia and its pre-Christian name Pendennis meaning “headland fort”. Charles I incorporated the settlement as a borough in 1639 and began building its trade in pilchard fishing, Cornish slate and mineral shipping. Later in 1770 the harbour was improved, providing protection from stormy seas which helped against floods and storm-blown sand which had periodically chocked the town in earlier centuries.
Around this time up until about 1830 Cornishmen and women had little regard to the Government due to tax rises of up to 110% for items such as tea and up to 250% for items such as brandy and gin. Such taxes were in place due to a remote king needing to fund foreign wars; however, this was an impossible situation for people to live in. So, naturally what was to be known as the ‘golden age’ of criminality was born which begun the mystery and enchanting tales of smugglers and dangerous voyages that have made Cornwall such a captivating yet charming location that will permanently be remembered in history. The imagination can still form a picture of how life must have been from the beautifully preserved old buildings with low-beamed ceilings, flag stone floors, inglenook fireplaces and secret hiding places where free traders (smugglers) would hide through the desperate times they faced. St Nicholas Chapel in St Ives is one of many buildings that were believed to be used by smugglers and customs officers and can be visited all year round.
(Cornwall Guide, 2016)
This history and the picturesque scenery of St Ives quickly turned the town into a popular holiday destination commencing in 1877 upon the arrival of the railway. Until this day the cobbled streets and stone-faced buildings have preserved the history of the town and have continued to grow its popularity as both a holiday destination and a place to live. Over the past five-years asking prices in St Ives have dramatically increased by 29%, compared to the recorded average rise of 1.8% throughout Cornwall. This localised rapid growth is driven by the second home market with funds being brought into the area from out of county buyers, forcing the property market up which some might say excludes locals from being able to afford some areas of St Ives. As a response to this issue the “principle-residence policy” was designed to allow locals to buy new property without the competition from second home buyers. This, however, has caused a different effect on the local housing market with new home developments now being moved to areas surrounding St Ives such as Lelant, Carbis Bay, St Erth and Hayle.
(Cornwall Live, 2019)
The “Knock-On” Effect
The reaction from this policy has caused more new build properties to become available in surrounding areas which is having a knock-on effect to infrastructure improvements to accommodate for the increase in housing. Such developments include St Erth’s park and ride and new road layout which allows an easier commute from the village on the main train line to London Paddington. Hayle, another nearby town to St Ives is currently seeing some major developments with the new Asda supermarket recently being opened bringing increased employment to the area and multiple new build developments bringing a significant increase in available open market and affordable housing to the area. Furthermore, plans for the derelict building, previously used as R&J supplies is to be demolished making way for 70 new homes comprising of one- and two-bedroom flats, two bedroom and four bedroom houses have recently been given the green light which will upgrade the unsightly brownfield site into a modern range of housing. A further 580 to 620 homes, plus retail space, hotel and leisure facilities have had outline planning permission granted for the new development on North Quay, Hilltop and Riviere Fields. This has failed previously, however, the council have recently secured a further £5.65m to support this development through to completion. Once this has been completed this will significantly increase the income generated into Hayle’s economy, while also creating further new homes and continue to maintain the harbour front. Such developments are an ongoing process aimed to bring the town to an equal level of housing availability as that of St Ives, Liskeard and Launceston. House prices for the area will likely see a steady growth of between 5% – 10% within the next 5 to 10 years due to the development of local amenities, which far exceeds Cornwall’s average growth rate.