The proposed £4.5m redevelopment of the old Traie Meanagh pool at Spaldrick in Port Erin has received a ‘resounding yes’ from the Department of Economic Development, said the man behind the proposal, Steve Bradshaw.
The department looked into the proposal in an attempt to move the project forward, said Mr Bradshaw.
The previous plan, for an 18-bedroom hotel with marine haven and associated facilities, was withdrawn last December.
Principal access would be by boat, from the Raglan pier, but some pedestrian access would be using the footpath above the site. Planners said there were issues with the footpath, which was outside the boundary of the plan, so a further application would have to be submitted.
Since then, Mr Bradshaw has worked closely with planners, commissioners, Rushen MHKs and the DED, ‘in the spirit to try and get something achieved. It’s a matter of getting something together. The public wants something done, it [the DED study] was a galvanising approach to satisfy concerns.’
DED Minister John Shimmin wrote the department is ‘prepared to support the project’ and the resubmission of a planning application.
Mr Shimmin wrote the proposal ticks the boxes in terms of economic growth, diversification and use of resources ‘focused upon attracting and developing business prospects which will benefit the island’s economy’.
This is ‘one of the few potential developments likely to meet’ the requirements as laid out in the Southern Area Plan that stated the site – derelict since 1981 – was ‘unsightly’ and would benefit from the clearance of ‘redundant fabric’.
The department has undertaken a ‘detailed analysis of the economic benefit of the project’ for the Manx economy through local construction companies and jobs, also local spend.
There would be up to 48 full and part time jobs in hotel, cafe, marine, health and safety instructors/trainers and marketing and accounts personnel.
DED is also satisfied the investor has access to finance and the professional skills required as a property developer/investor.
The application is worthy of support and the proposed development ‘would be a significant boost to Port Erin’ wrote Mr Shimmin.
Mr Bradshaw said: ‘I do not think they could have given me a bigger thumbs up. At the end of the day, everybody wants the site to be developed, and this is really good for the Isle of Man and Port Erin in particular. [The pool] will be visually improved and make it commercially viable.’
He added: ‘I was surprised and impressed at the depth they [the DED] went into. It is a resonating positive – it will also encourage and give comfort and confidence to any potential operator.
‘We have a financial investor identified, someone to operate and run it needs to be identified – it will be a cluster operation, also covering water sports and training.’
The next step is to gather all those involved – the investor, planners and local authority – and discuss access over the authority’s land to the site.
‘He [the investor] prefers a consultative approach,’ said Mr Bradshaw.
‘Everybody is happy about there being an 18-bed hotel, marina, it seems to me madness the type of lighting used to get there causes a problem. If you are spending £4.5m, it [access] is going to be done well.’
Mr Bradshaw said planning permission could be granted with a condition that access is ‘appropriate for the use of the site’.
However, he said: ‘The noises from planning are they are not happy [with the suggestion of such a condition].’
He added: ‘The investor and I need to resolve the issue. We want to put in an application for planning once that is resolved. We are looking at a further meeting to iron out this process.’
He added: ‘The rest of this is super positive news. It’s not a whim. It’s really good sanity check, it got flying colours from the minister.
‘We look forward to putting a new planning application in, the only wrinkle is we want it to come with a condition. The investor is really pleased with the minister’s decision, hopefully now we will get through the planning process so we can get the site developed.’