Residents in Prince’s Street in Douglas have worked hard to improve their environment, painting and repairing properties and upgrading the street scene - but despite their best efforts one blot remains on the landscape.
With its peeling paint, pigeons roosting in the rafters, foliage in the gutter and faded shredded curtains, one house remains a neglected eyesore and there is seemingly no easy answer.
One neighbour, Councillor Stephen Pitts, is a long term resident of the street and said the situation had prevailed for more than 25 years but with the regeneration efforts in the street recently the property was now a stark contrast to the others.
Fenella Collister set up the Prince’s Street residents’ association and has lived in the street for the past six years.
‘The council has been really good supporting us. We’ve had new heritage street lamps put up, dog bins installed and everyone has worked hard on their properties. At first no-one really knew their neighbours but now there is a real community spirit so it’s an even greater pity this house is the one blot on the landscape,’ she said.
‘People have expressed interest in buying and renovating it but the owner is not interested.
‘The council has pursued it through the courts but the owner then does the bare minimum at the eleventh hour.’
She said the adjoining houses had suffered damp problems as a result of the house standing empty with a leaking roof and in high winds ridge tiles had showered into her back yard. Local children had also forced their way into the house on occasion, sometimes smoking in there: ‘I’m terrified of the whole thing going up in flames,’ she said.
A power to compulsorily purchase such properties exists in the UK but is not readily available to local authorities in the Isle of Man.