O’Rourke’s Furniture Designs (OFD) is applying for planning permission to use the ’Old Mushroom Farm’ at Greeba as a coachbuilding workshop for heritage transport vehicles.

The Union Mills-based company’s application (20/00630/B) is to change the former plant nursery from agricultural/horticultural to light industrial/storage.

Metal rainscreen cladding will also be added to the building’s external walls (to ensure water tightness), along with the installation of new doors and windows and the alternation of those existing in order to enable the building to be used for coachbuilding purposes.

The former mushroom growing sheds will be outfitted to include separate assembly, dismantling and machinery shops.

There will also be separate storerooms for bulk materials, parts and vehicles, and shops for painting/finishing and final detailing. There will be roller shutter doors for vehicle access.

The 3.9 acre Greeba Nurseries site had operated as a mushroom farm until 2016, with a collection of buildings that provide a total of 11,000 square feet.

The site was acquired by Greeba Estates Ltd in 2019. An accompanying planning statement described the farm as having become no longer economically viable, resulting in the buildings having fallen into a ’dilapidated condition’ and in need of repair in order to be used commercially.

It added that future agricultural use would be unlikely due to lack of land.

OFD recently ventured into the ’heritage transport’ sector, having completed projects for the Manx Electric Railway, the Douglas Bay horse trams, the Snaefell Mountain Railway and the steam railway.

It has also been restoring a vintage bus for the Blackpool Transport Museum, with another three awaiting transport to the island for work when the company has space available.

OFD described these contracts as ’Valuable business that would normally be carried out with specialist companies off-island’.

The company previously operated out of a workshop in Onchan which was unsuitable for heritage transport work, before renting a large vehicular workshop in St Mark’s in 2018, where such projects could be undertaken.

It described the old mushroom farm site, despite having remained unused and decrepit since 2016, as being ’ideal’ for heritage vehicle restoration and coachbuilding because of its size, layout and orientation.

OFD further described this ’unique and interesting’ heritage work as serving the wider purpose of ’keeping dwindling and forgotten skills alive and economically viable’.

As a benefit to the change of use for the site, OFD said that there would be less traffic movements to the heritage transport workshop site than there had been for the commercial operations of the mushroom farm.