Callow’s Yard plan is ‘against’ guidelines

Callows Yard, Castletown

Callows Yard, Castletown

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The latest plan for Callow’s Yard in Castletown contravenes the island’s strategic and area plans and the retail sector strategy – a campaigner claims.

Resident Johhny Kipps formed Castletown Residents’ and Traders’ Association (RETA) to give the town a voice for issues relating to the failed town centre development.

A series of applications to convert Callow’s Yard from retail to residential use in recent months have provoked public unrest and meetings at which residents have said they fear, if approved, the plans will ‘fundamentally alter’ the town.

The latest plan PA14/ 00338/B is for conversion from retail to residential use, retaining retail use on the ground floor.

In an 11-page letter, Mr Kipps said he objects ‘on the grounds that the application contravenes key planning policies in the Isle of Man Strategic Plan of 2007 and Area Plan for the South, dated December 2012, and the Retail Sector Strategy, dated December 2013.’

Parking is already an issue and would be compounded by this latest plan. According to the Isle of Man Strategic Plan guidelines, the latest plan should require 70 car parking spaces.

He quoted the police (commenting on a previous plan 13/00797/B, later withdrawn) that young, male tenants are likely to rent single occupancy units, and they have a greater risk of causing ‘nuisance noise to neighbouring properties’ and displaying ‘antisocial behaviour towards neighbours (intentionally or recklessly)’.

Density is also an issue. The total number of new residents that could inhabit the proposed site is around 138.

He quoted from Environment Policy 35 (within a Conservation Area, the department will permit only development which will preserve or enhance the character of the area) and wrote ‘developing such high density is totally inappropriate for a conservation area’.

He claims the plan also contravenes Environment Policy 35 relating to open space requirements. Appendix 6 of the Isle of Man Strategic Plan lays down the open space requirement for developments and states: ‘All new residential development must provide adequate standards of residential amenity, including private open space such as gardens or shared amenity spaces for apartments, and bin storage areas.’

He asked whether there is residential amenity in Callow’s Yard.

According to the 2011 Census, Castletown overall has 36.9 per cent of households defined as ‘renting in the public sector’ against an all island average of 16.4 per cent. The town is therefore said to need more affordable family ‘to buy’ housing – yet this plan, according to Mr Kipps, ‘increases the amount of housing that will be available for renting in the public sector’.

The plan, he claims, also contravenes Housing Policy 17 which gives guidances on the provision of apartments.

One requirement is ‘the flats created will have a pleasant clear outlook’. Mr Kipps said the CY flats he has seen do not.

In addition, Mr Kipps points out Community Policy 4 states ‘development ... which involves the loss of local shops and public houses will only be permitted if it can be demonstrated that the use is no longer commercially viable, or cannot be made commercially viable.’

He wrote the plan ‘involves the loss of somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent of the overall retail/commercial space of Callow’s Yard (and this includes the loss of a public house).’

He says this policy will also be contravened, ‘unless there is an independent, transparent and evidence-based survey that shows that this space is no longer commercially viable or cannot be made commercially viable.’

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