The people of Castletown voiced their unanimous opposition to plans to turn the town centre Callow’s Yard (CY) development from retail to residential use at a packed meeting on Tuesday.
The local authority called the meeting before they made their decision on the plan (14/00007/B) by Roy Tilleard.
Mr Tilleard was unable to attend. Instead Cornerstone architect Tony Lloyd-Davies spoke.
Why would the usual parking requirement be waived, asked one resident. Mr Lloyd-Davies said no parking is required for the site. He added there was a resolution forthcoming on the parking problem. A business owner said a solution to car parking lay in the site of the current fire station (which is relocating and for which there is another plan by the Department of Home Affairs for residential use). Town MHK Richard Ronan is ‘fighting tooth and nail’ against residential use of the fire station site.
Mr Lloyd-Davies said there was already 93 per cent occupancy in residential accommodation in CY, but a resident doubted this figure.
Castletown was the island’s most important historic centre, said a resident, and this application would ‘fundamentally change’ the town and have implications for the whole island.
The Southern Area Plan (SAP) specifies Castletown should remain a retail centre, said one resident. New development proposals must retain the town’s character and a resident asked how turning retail into residential complied with the SAP. Castletown Heritage’s David Wilson said that was an ‘absolutely central’ point to objections, which must be submitted by February 18.
The owner of a dress agency, part of CY, said people boycott her business because of Mr Tilleard. ‘If they do not want residential, local people have to support local shop keepers. But no one (retailers) will come because of the negativity generated,’ she said.
Commissioner Andrew Thomas said fighting the plan would be expensive and he asked for a show of support, which he received.
A resident asked should ‘compulsory purchase’ be considered ‘and run it properly’.
Mr Tilleard’s son-in-law, Simon Glynn-Riley said: ‘CY has been treated as a pariah. If the business fails Mr Tilleard is going to look for other ways to earn money. To some extent you have only yourself to blame.’ It was either going to be retail, residential or boarded it up, he said, adding: ‘Would you prefer the latter?
CY failed because he charged too much rent, said a resident. Mr Ronan said in 2004 Mr Tilleard said landlords charged too much, he wanted to offer low rents to give people a chance. He said people need ‘fair rent’.
Mr Ronan added: ‘Castletown is bigger and better than one man. It’s not about Roy, it’s about the town.’
Mr Glynn-Riley said dialgoue is needed. ‘If it does not make him money, it will not work,’ he said.