A COLBY man has accused the island of having a laissez faire attitude to unsightly buildings.
James Richmond, who lives at the Level, has accused the authorities of failing to exercise their powers to make his neighbour tidy.
Mr Richmond said he had consulted the guidelines and in his view the property breached them, but he said the inspectors disagreed.
‘In 2010 I contacted the commissioners. I’ve asked several times and nothing has been done.’
Mr Richmond said he had also contacted John Howie of the environmental services department.
‘He said it was no worse than the works depot across the road, but you can’t compare the two. He said he couldn’t do anything about it.’
But Mr Richmond said guidelines – produced by Mr Howie himself – were quite precise in his view.
‘If long term maintenance is needed they can take action so it’s incomprehensible why they do nothing.
‘No one seems to care about anything, it’s laissez faire. No one seems to do anything at all.’
The situation has prevailed since Mr Richmond moved into his own house. ‘But you don’t think that six years later it will be still going on,’ he said. ‘There’s work going on inside and stuff has been dumped outside.
‘The final letter I have from the commissioners says they have exhausted all the possibilities. The commissioners are ineffectual: six years is long term mismanagement.’
Gill Kelly, clerk to Rushen commissioners, said she had some sympathy but they were acting on the advice of the Environmental Health department.
‘They advised the property was not in a state to warrant action,’ she said. ‘The owner is doing work to it himself so it is taking time.’
She added when a building receives planning permission to make alterations it remained for four years during which time the work had to start. But once work began, there was no time limit on its completion.
‘He is doing the work,’ she said.
Mr Howie, manager of the environmental health unit, said they acted as agents for the local authorities on such matters. Since 2010 he said decisions of that type had been made at local level using guidelines, mostly written by him.
‘They are very detailed and even include pro-forma letters,’ he said.
‘As regards this particular property, the commissioners went and they have said it is not actionable but they would speak to the owners. I have been there twice and I think they are right.
‘We make our judgment based on whether it is injurious to the local amenity.’
He said the guidance was provided by the Local Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1984 which governed ruinous, dilapidated or neglected buildings, and also by the Building Control Act 1991.
Decisions are made after looking around the area and making comparisons with others.
‘You have to treat everyone equally. If you walk past and say ‘‘my God that looks awful...’’ then that could be actionable.’
Owner Tom Spiers said the house was undergoing renovation and building work was already under way when Mr Richmond bought his own property.
‘It had been derelict for years when we bought it and it’s being renovated,’ he said. ‘It’s not suddenly gone down hill, it’s improving all the time.’
He said work so far included plastering, plumbing, paving, new windows and a garage, rendering and new floors.
‘It’s on the way up, not on the way down but it was never going to be an overnight process.’
A property in Laxey which has lain empty for years is something of a mystery according to commissioners’ clerk Peter Hill.
Santos, a large property with a loop drive on Croit-y-Quill Road in the village is partly hidden from view, however, and has not attracted complaints.
Mr Hill said: ‘It has magnificent views towards Cumbria but it has been completely let go.
‘Someone expressed concerns about a possible leaking oil tank there. We investigated and found it was in poor condition but fortunately it was also empty.
‘No one really likes to see empty houses but if no one complains we don’t really have the time to pursue it.’