WORK is due to start in July on a 38-unit sheltered accommodation complex in Upper Pulrose.
The £5.61m project is expected to take 18 months to complete and constitutes phase 10 of Douglas Council’s scheme to redevelop Lower and Upper Pulrose.
It will provide 31 one-bedroom flats, six two-bedroom flats and one one-bedroom disabled flat.
At last week’s Douglas Council meeting, members supported an additional £128,624 being spent to install an automatic sprinkler system at the development.
While the installation of sprinklers was in line with council policy, and their inclusion had been ‘strongly recommended’ by the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service, they had been ‘designed out’ due to high installation and maintenance costs.
Council leader David Christian said it was ‘short-sighted’ not to support its installation.
He was one of a number of members who referred to a Fire and Rescue Service demonstration of the effectiveness of sprinkler systems in October 2009, when two Douglas Corporation houses scheduled for demolition in Hazel Crescent, Pulrose, were set alight.
Mr Christian said he had been frightened to watch the speed at which the fire developed in the unprotected house. The charred remains of the living room highlighted the devastation left behind.
At the neighbouring property, the sprinkler in the living room was activated when the temperature reached 71C, reducing it to 20C.
Mr Christian suggested the cost, £3,384 per unit, could be passed on to the tenants through increased rent.
A number of councillors, including John Faragher (Derby), Bill Malarkey (Murrays) and John Skinner (Murrays) insisted the extra money be spent.
Mr Farargher said that while the initial cost may be expensive you can’t put a cost on life, adding: ‘The type of person who would reside in this type of unit may not be able to leave as quickly as able-bodied or younger people.’
Mr Skinner said he wouldn’t want the coroner to point the finger at the council if there was a fatal fire at the complex and it was found it had ignored the Fire and Rescue Service’s recommendation.
The complex will also feature a communal lounge, laundry, manager’s office and interview room, guest room, multi-purpose room, assisted shower room and storage.
The £4.1m redevelopment of Lower Pulrose was completed in October.
Some 252 properties were replaced with 240 and 28 first-time buyer homes were built.