The gov has rejected an appeal from Port Erin Commissioners to remove the Cosy Nook from the Protected Buildings Register.
A two-storey building made up of two 19th century houses, the Cosy Nook was altered into a single unit in the 20th century. It closed in 2019 and was added to the register in April 2021.
When it was registered, DEFA considered that the building was of historic interests in terms of its age and rarity as a surviving building of early Port Erin.
It also noted that it had been ‘adapted to accommodate the growing tourism industry and part of the national story of the island’s development from rural life to tourist destination and associated social and cultural history’.
This was further supported by the building’s longevity and high value to the local community. Despite that, the Planning Inspector noted that this was a ‘borderline’ but that the former Minister, Geoffrey Boot, decided in favour of registration. The department said in its submission to the appeal that is hasn’t changed its opinion on this and called for the appeal to be dismissed.
Port Erin’s Case
Against this, the Commissioners said they believe that DEFA ‘ignored its own OPPS (Operational Policy on the Principles of Selection) for the Registration of Buildings in the PBR of 2018 in connection with the original Registration of Cosy Nook and with regard to this appeal’.
The authority further argued that ‘Cosy Nook has neither special Architectural Interest nor particular Historic Interest’ and that it ‘stands alone and does not contribute to the architectural or historical interest of a group of buildings’.
And it also noted that the building has changed so much since its original construction, it bares little or no resemblance to what originally stood. In other words, it’s a bit of a Trigger’s broom or Ship of Theseus.
Finally the Commissioners said that registering the building precludes or severely restricts any alteration or improvements and would therefore place it at risk from rising sea levels.
DEFA was ultimately supported in its objection to de-registering the building by the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Manx National Heritage, Rushen Heritage, Culture Vannin and 10 other groups.
Ultimately, the Planning Inspector, Brian Sims, agreed that the decision to register the building had been a ‘borderline’ one, adding that the building ‘is not of the greatest value or importance architecturally or historically’.
However, he added: ‘I consider overall that the evidence provided overrides the present dilapidated state of the building and its increasing susceptibility to flood risk and justifies the continued inclusion of Cosy Nook in the PBR.’
In her role as DEFA Minister, Clare Barber appointed Claire Christian MHK to make the final decision on the building. Mrs Christian summarily agreed with the inspector and threw out the appeal, ensuring the building will remain on the register.
Well that is a good question. Speaker Juan Watterson has said that is ‘delighted that the Cosy Nook will remain a registered building, despite Port Erin Commissioners’ attempt to deregister it’.
Mr Watterson added: ‘This does not mean that the building cannot be changed or improved, but it does mean it cannot be demolished. Like many others, I’d like to see it restored and expanded sensitively. I expect that the next steps will be for the Commissioners to engage with planners and the public for a revised set of plans for the site.’