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News Archive > General > Smit puts paid to ‘fanciful’ rumours over Gillyflower

Smit puts paid to ‘fanciful’ rumours over Gillyflower

By Oliver Young 17th February 2021

Smit puts paid to ‘fanciful’ rumours over Gillyflower
Sir Tim Smit, founder of The Eden Project, has come out to convince detractors of his plans for Gillyflower Farm near Lostwithiel

Sir Tim Smit’s planning application at Gillyflower Farm has definitely caused controversy amongst Lostwithiel residents.

Some are outraged by the plans, some are demanding more consultation time and others have resorted to personal jibes at the expense of the man so closely associated with the Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan.

However, Sir Tim recently fronted up for a virtual meeting to discuss the issues surrounding the project with those objecting to it and is keen to resolve issues as the project develops.

In part one of a feature interview with the Voice, Sir Tim attempts to allay fears and explain his side of the argument.

“A lot of the protesting and negativity about the whole situation has been about based on a project that we are simply not building,” he explained.

“The truth is, we are building the finest rare orchard possibly in Europe as a legacy project to grow a wide range of fruits that are no longer easily available. “Of the 3,800 trees that we have already grafted, over half of them had to be specially grafted because they are so rare and not purchasable from nurseries.

He remains keen to keep lines of communication open between himself and people who aren’t in favour of the Gillyflower Farm development.

The plans would see the old Lostwithiel golf course revived and turned into ‘viable, biodiverse, artisanal productive garden and orchard of approximately 60 acres, and maintain and revitalise nine of the golf holes’.

He continued: “It has been a nightmare of a month but I pride myself on not losing my temper.

“I found on the Eden and Heligan projects that there were a lot of people who didn’t like change and would believe the most fanciful things. By not getting angry and allowing people to see that their deepest fears did not become a reality, they were able to say ‘well done’ and that is where I want to be with this because I live here.”

Sir Tim believes that much of the negativity has been due to misinformation and people not understanding what his true vision for the development is.

He added: “For some reason, there is thought that we are going to be building an attraction on the scale of Heligan or Eden and suddenly Lostwithiel will be mobbed and overrun with visitors.

“However, we are not actually a visitor destination. Of course, we hope that people come to see us but they won’t be allowed inside or near the wildflowers that we will want to harvest the seeds of.

“A bunch of people have convinced themselves that we are trying to damage biodiversity even though it has massively increased since we took over because that is one of our passions.

“I truly hope that almost every one of their reservations about the environment can be factually dealt with. For example, people say ‘the light pollution will scare off all the bats’ as opposed to us actually creating a environment where bugs and insects flourish and therefore the bats have more food. We have no more desire for light pollution that our friends in the town.”

Residents are also concerned that the centre will detract from the local businesses and block up the roads in the town, which is something that Sir Tim refuted, offering his believe that the town will flourish because of the development.

“People are concerned that there will be a lot of economic activity and that it will draw business away from the town but actually people will be coming to stay with us and do courses and venturing into Lostwithiel,” he continued

That will actually create a significant positive impact on the town.

“If it isn’t us, who then is providing jobs for the next generation of Lostwithiel? Nobody is.

“With both Eden and Heligan, people assumed that traffic would dominate the area and that simply hasn’t happened. With Heligan you wouldn’t even know it is there.”

Sir Tim concluded by outlaying his belief that the fractious relationship between the development and its objectors can be resolved as the process moves on.

He finished: “I don’t want this neighbourhood to be upset, I want people to have their fears allayed. ‘Friends’ is a funny phrase but I do want things to improve.”


In next week’s part two, Sir Tim rejects his ‘Satan’s father’ image and explains his regret over Gillyflower Farm.

By Oliver Young 17th February 2021

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