A public meeting will be held in Castletown Civic Centre at 7pm on February 11 to discuss the proposal to turn retail units in the town centre’s Callow’s Yard development to residential.
Callow’s Yard developer Roy Tilleard has been invited to speak at the meeting.
He said: ‘I’m considering my response. I was not consulted by the commissioners about their decision to hold this public meeting.’
The plan (14/00007/B for alterations and change of use of existing residential/commercial premises to provide additional residential accommodation at 6 to 26 Arbory Street) has provoked so much controversy in the town, commissioners’ chairman Kevin Weir said the meeting was necessary.
The local authority was meant to discuss the plan with Mr Tilleard at a special meeting on Monday, January 20.
However, Mr Tilleard’s comments about the plan on Manx Radio’s Mandate programme provoked so many comments from the public, commissioners’ chairman Kevin Weir decided to give more people the chance to contact the commissioners throughout the week, and they decided to make their decision on Friday, January 24.
Mr Weir said the ‘tone’ of Mr Tilleard’s comments on Mandate had ‘upset people’. Mr Tilleard said the town is suffering from a ‘major decline’ in offices and retail, meaning many empty shops and the only alternative is tourist or residential use.
In an interview with Isle of Man Newspapers, Mr Tilleard said the decision to refuse Tesco permission to open an Express store had been the turning point for the town. ‘You cannot bring people in without an offer or event or trigger,’ he said. ‘Without Tesco there’s nothing else you can do. If retail has gone what do you do? The answer is residential.’
He added the application is flexible and for ‘additional’ use, meaning possible reversion to retail.
Mr Weir said: ‘Because of the amount of public interest – all week it did not diminish – on Monday night when we met, we would have carried on and made our decision, but because he (Mr Tilleard) went on the air, it did cause an uproar. On Friday night at 6pm we were in a similar position. I recommended that we hold a public meeting with an independent chairman, and write to Mr Tilleard and invited him along so he can explain his plans. The public will be able to ask him questions then we will meet to make our decision.’
He added: ‘At least we will have done all we can do to talk to everyone. It is important for him to explain his application they can ask the questions they want to ask.’
Mr Weir said: ‘Last week every day there was phone calls, text messages. It’s a big issue, people are fed up by it and want to ask questions. We will do it correctly. He is not a man who shies away. If he appears, fine, if not, we will do it anyway. We are going to the people. We will make a decision after everybody has had their say.’
The planning department agreed to a request by the commissioners to extend the deadline for comments regarding the application and it is now February 18.