Kirk Michael housing scheme thrown out

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A CONTROVERSIAL planning application for 95 homes to be built on land next to Michael School, in Kirk Michael, has been refused.

Heritage Homes’ scheme was dependent on a land-swap deal, agreed by Tynwald in 2011, involving part of the school’s corner field being conveyed to landowner Pinecrest Investments to afford access to the development.

The Council of Ministers followed planning inspector Ruth MacKenzie’s recommendation that the application be refused.

It was ruled that the proposed development would ‘neither preserve nor enhance the character or the appearance of the Kirk Michael Conservation Area and would also detrimentally affect important views out of the conservation area’.

In addition, it was decided the location of the junction of the proposed estate road at Douglas Road Corner could ‘prejudice future decisions about a possible relief road for Michael’.

The decision was welcomed by former Michael MHK David Cannan.

‘I am absolutely delighted for the people of Kirk Michael that the iconic Douglas Road corner entrance to Kirk Michael has been preserved,’ he said.

‘I hope this is now the end of the matter. This battle started in 2007 and my fight was carried on by Alfred when I retired. This has been rejected twice. I hope that Dandara will not pursue this matter further.’

Heritage Homes’ initial plan (11/01250/B) for the same site for 100 dwellings – with associated infrastructure, new school field and playground, public open space and landscaping – was refused in February 2012.

Under the land-swap deal the Department of Education and Children would convey 0.63 acres of Michael School’s corner field to the landowner, to afford access to the housing development.

In return, the department would receive 2.01 acres of land to the north and east (rear) of the school site from the landowner.

The developer would create a new sports pitch, hard play area and boundary works, including ball-stop fencing, boundary fencing, gates, walls, ramps, paths and landscaping at no cost to the DEC.

A Tynwald select committee into the deal is on-going.

It has already found there that then Education Minister Eddie Teare’s close involvement with the negotiations was ‘not unexpected’ given his background and expertise.

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