You probably aren’t that aware of the Area Plan for the East, but you should be, so Gef has put together this short guide to the plan, why some people want it and why others don’t.
What is it?
The Area Plan for the East is made up of a written statement and a series of maps. It contains proposals which are either site specific, relatable to a specific issue (such as the roads) or comes in the form of a policy statement for a specific area.
What does it do?
Essentially the plan will ‘zone’ areas of land across the east of the island in order to make development easier. For example, places like Noble’s Park will remain zoned as a recreational space, whereas land at the back of Braddan primary school will be zoned for housing. Other spaces, such land by the Isle of Man Business Park (Cycle 360 and Horse and Plough) and on the other side of the road (Riley’s Garden Centre) will be zoned for commercial development and a proposed technology park.
Why do people support it?
Policy and Reform Minister Ray Harmer has said the plan will ‘support the local needs of our economy, our environment and climate change goals, our public services, our infrastructure and our health and social well-being’. We may all want new clubs (no offence to the OB), pubs, cinemas and bowling alleys, but the island has to grow to make these happen, particularly post Rona. It is also important we grow our worker population as the island is getting older.
Why do people oppose it?
Some opponents of the plan say it will lead to the beautiful Manx landscape being tarmacked over, forever lost to development and more housing. Others point to the drop in the Manx population from 2011 to 2016 as showing there not being a need to zone these areas, it was even suggested in Tynwald to put the plan on hold until after the next census in 2021. Other concerns include the island’s infrastructure being unable to cope and town’s and village’s losing their distinctive character.
So, what happens next?
This is less clear. The Area Plan for the East looked set to be passed by the October Tynwald, but after several hours of debate Mr Harmer announced the government would withdraw it and try again next month as the plan needs to complete its passage through Tynwald by December. However, in almost every area that the plan will affect, there are opposition groups who have the ear of their MHKs. Those very same MHKs will be asking for your vote in the 2021 general election. Now we can expect Ministers such as HQ, Ashy MBE and Home Affairs Minister Graham Cregeen (the Notorious GDC) to support the plan, but there are other MHKs who could decide its ultimate fate, watch this space.