Government considers selling Knockaloe site

The Royal Manx Agricultural Show held at the weekend at Knockaloe Farm in Patrick

The Royal Manx Agricultural Show held at the weekend at Knockaloe Farm in Patrick

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Just days after Knockaloe hosted the Royal Manx Show, it has been confirmed that government is considering selling off the site.

New Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister Richard Ronan MHK insists no decision has been made – and he wants to hear the concerns of residents and commissioners first.

Patrick Commissioners have organised a public meeting on September 9 at the old Patrick School room.

Details of the proposed sell-off emerged in a letter from former DEFA Minister Phil Gawne to Patrick Commissioners, which has been leaked to the Manx Independent.

In that letter dated July 1, Mr Gawne wrote: ‘Following the cessation of “in house” farming activity at Knockaloe, the department has reviewed its need for the property and also discussed it in detail with other areas of government.

‘Following these discussions, the department plans to market the farm towards the end of this year with a view to completing any sale as the current leases expire.

‘I appreciate this will no doubt raise some concerns but the department will actively seek to ensure there is improved access over some areas and will try to consider any other concerns that you may have.’

Mr Gawne, in his letter, said he was not aware of any covenant covering the site.

However, clerk to Patrick Commissioners Ian Maule has been tasked by the commissioners to establish if a covenant does exist.

He said: ‘Commissioners have expressed concern that the land is sold off.

‘There is a view the land was gifted by trustees of Henry Bloom Noble and there is covenant attached to that gift that the land is used for farming purposes.’

Leases exist for the Auction Mart and to Royal Manx Agricultural Society for the annual show.

Mr Maule said the land was not zoned for housing but pointed out ‘things can change’.

DEFA Minister Mr Ronan said: ‘Obviously this was brought to my attention when I was made Minister. I asked for a full review to get a better understanding and subsequently had a site visit.

‘I’m meeting with Patrick Commissioners in September and I want to hear the concerns of residents and the commissioners. It is a very important piece of land. We have to make sure government maximises its assets.

‘But before any decision is reached we have to make sure it’s right for that area, right for the people and right for the government. I appreciate the sensitivity of this.’

Knockaloe was the home of the government’s experimental farm for many years.

It was also home to internees during the First World War.

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