Castletown’s Commissioners have opposed the latest proposal for Callow’s Yard, the failed retail centre in the middle of the town.
However, they believe they are close to finding a solution.
At last week’s meeting, at which 36 members of the public were present, the majority of the board of seven commissioners disagreed with various aspects of the plan (PA14/00338/B to convert from retail to residential use properties on Arbory Street and Fusion Bar) and just two commissioners – Colin Leather and James Quine – gave it their support.
Commissioners’ chairman Kevin Weir said the issues related to ‘parking density, the commercial unit at 8 Arbory Street, the big arch has to stay open, so it is not a sealed unit, the place has to look and feel open.’
However, he added they were very close to reaching an agreement, and said: ‘The board is solid in its views and committed to finding a solution.
‘We all agree we are that close to a solution. We did not go mad with our objection, we know we are close. We do not want to put up too many barriers. We are hoping Mr Tilleard [the developer of Callow’s Yard] will rethink it.’
A series of applications to convert Callow’s Yard from retail to residential use in the past few months have provoked two public meetings, at which residents expressed their concerns the plans would ‘fundamentally alter’ the town.
The latest plan – in which retail would be continued on the ground floor in all bar one property on Malew and Arbory Streets – illustrated Mr Tilleard has listened to those concerns, said his architect Tony Lloyd-Davies at the public meeting on April 15.
A residents’ and traders’ association is being formed to give the town a voice for its issues relating to the development.
Those concerns include ‘government support for conversion of the upper stories of Callow’s Yard into residential [which] may lead to the entire Callow’s Yard becoming a dormitory establishment, with attendant social disruption, and that this could damage retail prospects for the town.’
Mr Weir said: ‘We hope to have another meeting with Mr Tilleard with all the relevant and interested local parties, traders, landlords, people with a genuine interest in the outcome and some members of the public.
‘It’s a Castletown problem. It’s Castletown people who will come up with a solution. At the end of the day, we want it to succeed.
‘This is a genuine attempt to make it succeed. Who is going to frequent Callow’s Yard? Castletown people. Who are the likely tenants ad residents? Castletown people. Where does the solution lie? With Castletown people. To look to Castletown people is the right thing to do.’
Mr Tilleard was invited, but did not attend, either of the public meetings – but it was important they talk to him, said Mr Weir.
‘If he had appeared at one of the meetings we would have reached an agreement,’ he said.
‘The days of getting him there to have a go at him have long, long gone, they just want to ask him questions.
‘I know at the original public meeting years ago he had a rough ride, but we have come a long way. People want answers only he can give. At the end of the day the master plan is in his head.’
One workable solution, said Mr Weir, suggested by a resident, was to convert Callow’s Yark into a retirement complex.
He said: ‘To me, it’s an absolutely golden solution, but the decision is up to him [Mr Tilleard].’
Callow’s Yard opened as an upmarket retail centre in 2009.
At one point Tesco wanted to set up there, but it failed to get an alcohol licence, scuppering its plans.