A bid to alter boundaries in the north of the Isle of Man got underway this week at a pre-inquiry hearing.

The boundary extension was requested by Ramsey Town Commissioners because it believes the town is at ‘capacity’. However, Lezayre and Garff Commissioners are objecting to the expansion into their constituencies.

Ramsey’s commissioners want to adjust the boundaries between Ramsey, Lezayre and Garff as they believe the town needs to grow to encourage development.

The meeting, which set out the process that will be followed at a public inquiry at a later date, was attended by residents, commissioners and MHK’s Daphne Caine and Tim Johnston.

A hot topic during the hearing was whether the Area Plan for the North and West should be considered as evidence at the formal enquiry.

Chair of the inquiry, Peter Taylor, said a planning officer will be at the formal hearing to explain what has been earmarked for development in the plan.

This was disputed by the advocate for Ramsey Commissioners who said the plan shouldn’t be taken as evidence because it hasn’t been published or approved by Tynwald.

Issues also arose around who would be able to speak at the public enquiry and those who need ‘interested party status’.

Residents who live in either of the affected areas will be automatically granted this status but those who live outside the proposed boundary will need to explain why they should be allowed to speak.

Tim Cowin, the Ramsey Commissioners Clerk, said: ‘I think it’s gone very well. The pre inquiry is just to really set out the process, that’s what today’s meeting was about.

‘We haven’t had all of the information that we need yet, so it’s good that there’s been a slight delay in the process. It allows us to see what’s there and allows everybody else to understand the responses and what they might want to say or add to the argument.

‘To be honest, I’m a Ramsey resident, and I’m pleased that we’re looking at the future.’

Marinda Fargher, Garff commissioner for Maughold, said: ‘I think the main point is whether the whole thing is premature.

‘We don’t know where the north of the island is going with the North and West Area Plan. It’s a guessing game.

‘I think we’re worried because of that. There are properties within the area, and it’s an unknown going forward. ‘We’re still none the wiser as to why Ramsey want the Maughold area because it’s mainly hill land and forest and it’s not development land as we see it. It’s all a bit of a mystery at the moment.’