Plans for a new transport interchange at Ramsey on the Isle of Man have been placed in serious doubt after local ministers rejected the proposals, which included the construction of a car park, bus storage and washing facilities as well as the tram and bus loading areas. The idea had already met with some opposition from island residents who felt that the Manx Electric Railway’s heritage was being compromised by such modern buildings.
Following a meeting held on 19th February, the Planning Inspector expressed concern that the development scheme would contradict Transport Policy 3 of the Isle of Man Strategic Plan, stating that such projects should not damage the character of the island’s historic transport assets. It was feared that the proposed bus yard and wash plant, featuring a large concrete surface, would be an unattractive welcome for tourists visiting the island to enjoy the unique experience of a ride on the MER, particularly as trams would have had to pass through what would have effectively a work yard, spoiling the nature of the tram ride. However, such a facility would also have provided a useful transport link, connecting tram and bus services, with initial plans for a large public car park as well (although this had been dropped as early as 2012).
The decision not to proceed with the interchange comes in stark contrast to the recent modernisation scheme at Laxey Station, and it will now be interesting to see what decision will be taken in regard of planned upgrading of the Isle of Man Railway station area, with an appeal taking place next month.