Businessman Roy Tilleard has won a high court bid to overturn a planning decision on his Callow’s Yard development in Castletown.
Callow’s Yard Limited had been refused planning consent for proposals to convert unused commercial premises at the complex into residential accommodation.
Mr Tilleard’s company appealed against that decision and the planning inspector recommended that the appeal be allowed and planning permission be granted.
But Lib Van MHK Kate Beecroft, member for the Department of Infrastructure, decided to go against the recommendation of planning inspector Alan Langton and dismissed the appeal, citing lack of parking.
The Callow’s Yard developer lodged a petition of doleance and the high court has now ruled in his favour, with Deemster Andrew Corlett concluding that Mrs Beecroft’s decision was ‘unlawful’ as she failed to take into account ‘relevant material considerations’.
He quashed the decision and ordered that the appeal be reconsidered with reference to the contents of the inspector’s report.
Deemster Corlett said it was not the court’s role to interfere with the merits of a particular development or planning policy.
He said: ‘Those are matters ultimately, of course, for the Minister. The court’s role is to review the lawfulness of the decision and the process whereby the decision has been arrived at.
‘The Minister (or someone delegated by him to fulfil that role) is entitled, particularly in relation to matters of planning policy, to depart from the recommendations of inspectors, but if the Minister is to do so, he or she must give reasons and those reasons must, crucially, engage with the key findings of the inspector with which the Minister disagrees.
‘It is self-evident that a developer is entitled to know how the Minister has addressed the otherwise favourable findings of the inspector so that he can tailor any re-submitted planning application accordingly and, also, be able to know whether to mount a further legal challenge.’
Callow’s Yard Ltd had sought planning permission (14/00338/B) to convert from retail to residential use properties on Arbory Street and the Fusion Bar, retaining retail on the ground floor in all bar one property.
It represented, said Mr Tilleard, the latest effort to regenerate and advance Callow’s Yard as a ‘successful location for residents and businesses’.
There would be a net increase in residential accommodation from 35 to 50 units, but the number of bedrooms would rise by just seven from 63 to 70.
On the issue of parking, the planning inspector thought there would be a likely increase of about five vehicles which he did not think would be ‘harmful to parking stress or the safe, free flow of traffic’.
He said the permanent closure of the Fusion Bar would, by itself, lead to a reduction in demand for parking in the town and there were plentiful parking opportunities within acceptable walking distance.
But Mrs Beecroft, who had been given delegated responsibility to determine the appeal by Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne, disagreed with Mr Langton and suggested that 14 spaces could be required.
She said: ’It has not been demonstrated that a reduced level of parking for the proposed development will not result in unacceptable on-street parking within the locality.’
But in his judgment, Deemster Corlett said Mrs Beecroft had failed to address competing arguments set out in the inspector’s report. He said those arguments were more ‘nuanced and fact-sensitive’.