Commissioners Back KWC Pool

Castletown Commissioners has written to express members’ support for a new sports centre, including Olympic sized swimming pool, at King Bill’s College and criticised the Southern Swimming Pool Board.

This comes after the board of the Southern Swimming Pool appealed against principle planning approval being granted for the scheme.

After we published our piece yesterday outlining opposition to the scheme, Gef was contacted by the Clerk of the Commissioners, sharing the board’s letter to the Cabinet Office, which is handling the planning appeals.

Somewhat Perverse

In that letter, the local authority accused the southern pool board acting beyond its powers.

The letter said: ‘It is somewhat perverse that the Land owner on which this application stands has not been afforded interested party status, yet the Planning and Building Control Directorate have seen fit to offer interested party status to an unelected body which is working beyond its stated scope of the functions of the Board under the Southern Swimming Pool Board Order 2000.’

Addressing the issues raised by the pool board, the local authority said: ‘Whilst the site is outside the arbitrary boundary as shown on the 2012 Southern area plan document, the plan is clear that this is the “Main Settlement Boundary”. The Appeal seeks to distort phraseology and there are number of residential properties and buildings and land for Civic Cultural and Other uses as defined in the plan.’

The commissioners added that there is ‘already a swimming pool to which the public have access on the site, which seems to have been overlooked both by the appellant and the planning officer in the original officers report to the committee’.

Registered Building

One of the issues raised by the Pool Board is that the proposal site is within the boundaries of a registered building. However, the Commissioners told the Cabinet Office that there are in ‘excess of 60 registered buildings in Castletown and the rigid view taken by the appellant would effectively prevent any inward investment in the Town and turn it into a living museum’.

They added: ‘Indeed the proximity to registered buildings has not prevented the adoption of a permitted development order and building of the hanger for the Private Jet Centre in close proximity to King Williams College. The Applicant was quite clear at the Planning committee that the method of construction would allow the removal of the structure in the event that it ceased to be utilised and this should be taken into account.’

‘Many of the arguments being put forward by the appellant would appear to preclude the redevelopment of their own facility at a later date owing to its proximity to the Witches Mill (Registered Building 76). One would suspect that they will not raise similar objections should such an application materialise and only serve to highlight the vexatious nature of this appeal.’

Lobbying Tool

The Commissioners went on to add that ‘perhaps most importantly is the fact that this initial approval was for approval in principle only’.

And added: ‘The applicant is still expected to bring a more detailed plan back to the planning committee for approval and Castletown Town Commissioners, consider that it would be fundamentally wrong to deny them this opportunity.

‘The planning committee were unanimous in their support of the proposal against the recommendation of the planning officer and it is entirely wrong that the the Southern Swimming Pool Board is now being used as a lobbying tool to further its members vexatious campaign against the applicants plans. Indeed we ultimately question the decision of Mr Butler to accept the appeal. 

‘The Board of Castletown Town Commissioners remain wholly supportive of the redevelopment of the appellants facility as part of the wider plans for CRHS, however the potential redevelopment of a public facility, should not prevent charitable bodies from seeking to bring inward investment into Castletown, particularly when a pool to which the public already have access exists on the application site.

‘We would therefore urge the inspector to dismiss the appeal and invite the applicant to submit a full and detailed planning applications which van be considered through the planning process.’