A plan to open a new cafe in Station Road in Port Erin has failed to get the support of the local authority when the matter was discussed last week.
The plan (13/00391/C) by Mrs N. Lewis, is for change of use of the ground floor from shop to cafe, which would sell good quality home-made baked goods and possibly also local artisans goods. Behind the cafe, there will be a smoking/play area.
Ann Watterson, who runs The Bakeaway that is situated immediately opposite, raised several objections saying that the shop sells the same thing as the proposed cafe is planning to sell. There are 17 eateries within a 100 yard radius and there are not enough people around to sustain the existing eating places. The proposed cafe will not bring any more people to Port Erin, it will only take much needed custom from existing places, she said.
If the new cafe opens,The Bakeaway might have to lay off staff – they employ four people full time, she said.
Also the double yellow lines outside the proposed cafe raised road safety concerns, she felt.
Last week, Port Erin commissioner Nick Watterson, who was absent from the meeting, emailed his response, saying: ‘Normally I have a very laissez faire attitude [and think] the board should not intervene.’ However, he was concerned about the number of existing cafes and the impact of the proposal on long standing enterprises, who ‘feel a small drop in trade could signal the end’. He said the proposal ‘offers nothing new to bring people to Port Erin.’
Commissioner Barbara Guy agreed and said: ‘It’s healthy to encourage [new businesses], but we should look at the bigger picture (particularly in the current economic climate) and see how it would impact on those [eateries] that have been there a long time.’
Commissioner Gerry Callister was worried about the proposed cafe having a smoking area outside a butcher’s (which is next door).
Commissioner Lorna MacKellar was ‘disappointed’ it wasn’t a cake shop – as she originally heard it would be – as this would fill a gap in the market. She had an issue with the double yellow lines outside, and providing an area for smoking ‘in this day and age [is] something that should not be supported.’
Also, having a smoking area next to the butcher’s and by a play area is ‘not compatible’. Commissioner Phl Crellin said while he does not believe in protectionism, his stance changes when this latest plan would mean 18 eateries in the village.
He has reservations about parking nearby and also noise from the extraction fan on nearby residents.
Commissioner Martin Norbury supported the plan and said: ‘How do we decide? We have got 17, how do you not allow 18? … anyone willing to invest in the village I would like to encourage.’
Mr Crellin proposed they object because if the extraction fan making it an ‘unneighbourly development’ and lack of off street parking.
While not a reason for refusal, he said they should also express their concern about the number of cafes already in the village.
He was seconded by commissioner Godfrey Egee and supported by the board except Mr Norbury.