In a surprise announcement, Sea Breezes has pulled out of plans to turn the former marine laboratory in Port Erin into a ‘Marine Interpretation Centre’ because its ‘in detail’ planning application was refused by the Council of Ministers.
Sea Breezes’ director Hamish Ross said: ‘Over the last few years we have committed considerable resources, in both time and money to developing our plans for the building; plans which we felt were appealing, sensitive to the location and past history of the building and which would benefit the local economy.
‘We felt confident these plans would meet with universal approval as we had discussed them widely, including with local commissioners, ministers and planners. The refusal of our detailed planning application by both the UK Inspector and CoMin came as a considerable shock to our team who have worked hard on getting the project to the stage where the application could be submitted and hopefully approved.
‘Following the decision by CoMin and in light of the time and money spent to date, it is with regret we have decided that our energy and focus is now better concentrated on finding another location for our Sea Breezes offices.’
An earlier Sea Breezes application for approval ‘in principle’ was also rejected by the independent inspector, because of the impact of the visual car parking on the headland site, but CoMin overruled this decision and approved the plan, a decision which ‘disappointed’ the local authority.
The building was operated as a marine laboratory by Liverpool University until 2006. Sea Breezes wanted to turn it into a centre housing various marine related activities.
Many had been let down by this decision, said Sea Breezes’ commercial director Sam Frize. He said: ‘It is an incredible blow to us, it took such a long time to get everyone on board to provide this incredible facility. This was six years in the making. We have various people ready to go ahead. People are quite clearly disappointed and depressed at this news.’