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pix show ‘shabby chic’ furniture, and some of the art commissioned for Heartlands; main pic ‘Mineral Wall’ by Michael Rowe

by Bernard Marx

A £37million theme park built with taxpayers cash on a historic Cornish mine is already in financial trouble, CCN can reveal.

‘Heartlands’ in Pool – where there’s long been a big industrial estate boasting flourishing factories, bargain retailers, thriving local businesses and a popular and affordable market – was trumpeted by Whitehall and the council as ‘regenerating’ the area.

In January Heartlands laid off two staff – now it’s in crisis talks over dropping its business rental rates.

The Heartlands project raised a furore on Facebook when it emerged so much public money was going into it, and that the council was a financial partner in its running.

Promotional videos went viral and were ridiculed as ‘Soma-land’ – a reference to the mind-numbing happy-drug of Aldous Huxley’s 1930s dystopian classic ‘Brave New World’

But criticism of site was crushed at launch.

In 2011 small businesses crossed their fingers the play-park would work as bosses spent thousands of public pounds on a vast PR drive which appeared to consist chiefly of an attempt to get supporters to post ‘Wow’ on social media.

Big pink and pastel signs – since partly ripped down – at a large traffic junction rebuilt near the parks entrance also proclaimed ‘Wow’.

As the site opened, four ladies moved into the business units: a photographer, a psychic, a maker of ‘shabby chic’ furniture, and a holistic healer.

Some of the four exchanged the remark ‘Wow’ on Facebook.

Costly modern art was commissioned from hip and busy artists of international renown, and a pay car-park – right next to a privately owned free one – tarmaced over for visitors.

The staggering PR drivel for Heartlands oozes soft-soap about ‘diversity’, ‘diaspora’ (six granite boulders representing the Cornish Diaspora), before inviting locals to plunge into an ‘immersion-scape’.

Folk from the proud working class towns of Camborne and Reduth can snap up a Hand & Forearm Aromatherapy Massage for a tenner, enjoy an hour of foot ‘reflexology’ for £20, or for just £28, get their ears candled.

At Magnetic Earth, the shop-girls, grease monkeys and struggling small tradesmen of the two towns can enrol in ‘Mayan Cosmology Courses & workshops’, and undergo ‘Soul Readings’, whilst resting assured of a “stunning selection of high grade Crystals & pendulums”, should they have any readies left over.

Typical of recent events at Heartlands was January 2014’s Holistic Health and Spiritual Weekend

For two quid visitors got the chance to browse stalls offering “healing, reiki, shiatsu, herbal medicine, homoeopathy, aura soma therapy, sound healing, reflexology, massage, readings”, and last but not least – ‘angels’

Supporters say over the last two years Heartlands has proved a vital community hub.

Critics say it’s a pointless shrine to hippy-divorcees-who-lunch.

Opinions aside – in 2014, Heartlands can’t afford to pay its staff, or charge for its units.

CCN got an email last week from a local who said they knew one of the two people laid off early this year. It offered a scathing, if blunt, description of the beleagured site.

The message, which focused on a seperate story, read in a brief aside: “The place is bollocks.

“Nobody goes thear (sic ). They told mate had a job but now has to go back on the dole.”

Just weeks after sacking the two staff, Heartlands held a secret meeting with on-site traders about a ‘new business plan’.

A council spokeswoman told reporters: “There has been a meeting between the traders at Heartlands and the Heartlands Trust.

“It was not be a public meeting. It provided an update to the traders on the new business plan and future aspirations of the site.

“The change of use application is an element of the new business plan for Heartlands.

“The change of use aims to give greater flexibility over the type of business which is allowed to occupy the units available for rent in Market Square at Heartlands.

“Heartlands aims to see Market Square populated with a diverse mix of units which provide a year round presence.

“This is emphasised in the new business plan by more advantageous rental rates compared to other forms of use.”

Posted by on March 10, 2014. Filed under POLITICS,Today's Top Cornish Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

3 Responses to ‘WOW’. SO HEARTLANDS IS CRAP!

  1. ry

    March 10, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I took our two year old there

  2. ry

    March 10, 2014 at 8:43 am

    We went at Christmastime: it was four pounds for a visit to a shed to see Santa, and all my two year old got was a rubber duck!
    The place is boring and empty.

  3. A. Noyde

    March 11, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I wasnt aware of the hype, but was curious.I saw the leaflet which promises something a little different. I heard the play park was really good so took my children in February half term.
    It is a curious place, in that it has set itself up to be world class yet so little thought has gone into the landscaping or architectural design. of the whole site It feels as if it is unfinished. From the children’s play park which was great, in that some thought had actually gone into designing a play park with challenge and intrigue for young children (Compared to other parks in Cornwall), all i could see was a new housing development, which lacked any imagination or sympathetic design with the Heartlands site. There was no visual boundary to separate the two. The renovation of the old mining works and buildings is lovely but the shop, undermines the mineral part of the exhibition, and in my opinion shouldnt be there not that there was anything that i wanted to buy there.

    Heartlands just lacked imagination on all levels: Who is running this facility? Do they have creativity, imagination, passion fort creating something different. You have a huge amount of space, but nothing to fill it. It was half term. There should have been workshops, narrators outside telling about the history (not exhibition boards that children loose interest with in 2 minutes flat); Let children handle minerals and stones and look at them through magnifying glasses, not microscopes that dont work.

    Heartlands needs to be properly landscaped so even if you dont have lots going on , it is a great place to explore. You have started, but you need to see it through to its conclusion, otherwise it will fail and just become a housing estate. Maybe that was the plan all along???

    We want to hear the truth please. I dont mind my council tax going towards something reputable, but i do mind (along with hundreds of thousands of other people) when we are lied to, led along, our money going into something which has not been thought through.

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