Plans for a large housing estate on a greenfield site on the outskirts of Ramsey have been recommended for approval despite concerns over flood risk and loss of wildlife habitat.

The first phase of the Sulby Riverside scheme could see a total of 66 houses and 12 flats built on fields at Poyll Dooey but outline consent is also being sought for up to 127 more homes (22/00679/B), making 205 in total.

Proposals include affordable housing, albeit only five in phase one, a new public house and community facility as well as children’s play areas, shop kiosks and light industrial units.

Last month the planning committee deferred a decision on the application by Blythe Church Investments Holdings Ltd pending a site visit and this week a decision was deferred for a further two weeks due to the volume of technical information submitted by government departments at the 11th hour.

Among the objectors is the Department of Infrastructure’s flood management division which said no homes should be built on a floodplain.

It said: ‘There should be no residential development on this greenfield site as the site is largely in a high risk flood zone (fluvial and tidal).

‘The building on green field sites which flood or potentially could flood is leaving a legacy for future generations to deal with. Defences can be constructed however these will be overtopped at some point. This will mean more property and more lives at risk.’

But planning officer Hamish Laird is recommending approval, on the basis that a proposed new Spine Road would act as a flood barrier as well as a connecting road linking Poyll Dooey Road to the east of the site with Audlyn Walk to the west. Set at a level of between 5m and 6.5m, this would protect most of the homes from flooding, his report notes.

Outside of the protected area, the flats to the north of the Spine Road would have their living accommodation raised on stilts. The new public house/community facility and industrial units would also be designed to be flood resilient.

The site adjoins the Poyll Dooey Nature Reserve to the north as well as a protected saltmarsh. DEFA’s ecosystems policy officer Sophie Costain objected to the proposal on the grounds it would mean large scale removal of habitat and impact on red listed plants of conservation concern which have been found on the site.

David Bellamy of Manx Wildlife Trust told Monday’s hearing: ‘This makes a mockery of our Biosphere status.’

There were also concerns that the development would obstruct a number of established public rights of way.

The applicants say the development will create some 156 new non-construction jobs when complete in the new industrial units, shop kiosks and new public house and community facility.

Planning officer Mr Laird said the benefits offered by the proposed development outweighed the dis-benefits. Among recommended conditions for approval is that the Spine Road is constructed up to base level before the first house is built.