The future of the former Marine Biological Station on Port Erin breakwater has been debated by the planning committee.

The committee will meet on March 28 to discuss an application to transform the eyesore into a modern mixed purpose development.

Delgatie Limited was first granted planning permission in principle in November 2019 to redevelop the area.

In January 2021, a planning application was submitted for the site (20/01467/REM), which included plans for the erection of a building to provide ‘exhibition space, retail, apartments and restaurant with associated parking spaces’.

However, in August, the plans were modified (20/01467/B).

The changes meant that if approved, fewer residential apartments will be included – 58 instead of 69.

The changes followed meetings with and reports by government officers.

The building was sold by the Department of Infrastructure in 2018 for £500,000 to the property development company, and it was then earmarked for development.

An agreement was also reached for the company to improve the appearance of land at the front of the property, which still belongs to the government.

The original building dates back to 1892, when the Liverpool Marine Biological Committee set up base there, with much of their work involved in dredging excursions in the Irish Sea.

In 1919 the University of Liverpool took control and ownership of the Marine Biological Station, and students studied there for a number of years.

A laboratory was added in 1932 and a library, teaching laboratory and dive centre were constructed in 1980.

The buildings have been unused since 2006 when Liverpool University vacated the site and they were then extensively damaged by fire in December 2016 when, on New Year’s Eve, a fire destroyed a large part of the southern development.

The development has seen broad support from the local commissioners, and other consulted parties including the Department of Infrastructure.

However, planning officers have recommended that the application be refused, citing design issues and concerns that adequate provisions have not been made in relation to potential rock fall in the vicinity.