Context 153 - March 2018

28 C O N T E X T 1 5 3 : M A R C H 2 0 1 8 The Legislative Buildings, Douglas (Photo: Patricia Tutt, ARPS) CATRIONA MACKIE The island in context With the Isle of Man’s planning system currently under review, there is an opportunity for the government to amend, or radically redesign, planning and conservation policy and legislation. The Isle of Man covers approximately 221 square miles and has a population of about 85,000.The main urban areas are the towns of Douglas in the east (the island’s capital), Ramsey in the north, Peel in the west, and Castletown (the former capital) in the south.The island is not part of the UK but, like Jersey and Guernsey, is a Crown Dependency. It has its own parliament (Tynwald) and passes its own legislation, although this is subject to Royal Assent. As head of state, the Queen is represented on the island by the lieutenant-governor. Tynwald is tricameral in that it has two branches which meet separately to consider legislation, and which meet together as one each month to consider policy and financial matters. The lower chamber (House of Keys) consists of 24 elected members (MHKs), two from each of the 12 constituencies. While there is a small number of active political parties on the island, most MHKs stand as independents and there is no official opposition. The upper chamber (Legislative Council) has eleven members (MLCs). Eight of these are elected by the House of Keys. The remaining three are ex officio : the Bishop of Sodor andMan, the President ofTynwald (who has a casting vote), and the attorney general (who has no vote).The main executive body of government is the council of ministers.This consists of the chief minister, who is elected byTynwald, and eight ministers, appointed by the chief minister. Unlike in the UK, planning is managed wholly by central government. Currently, planning and building control functions (including protected building registra- tion) sit within the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture; and planning policy, conservation and the administration of planning appeals sit within the Cabinet Office. Planning policy is laid out in the island’s development plan, which combines the government’s strategic plan and a series of local and area plans. The strategic plan provides the framework for land use and development. Work is under way to replace outdated local plans with a series of broader area plans. These area plans identify potential areas for development, and include development briefs for significant sites.They also identify buildings potentially worthy of inclusion on the protected buildings register (comparable to listing in the UK). The primary planning legislation is the Town and Country Planning Act 1999. This is supported by Planning Policy Statement 1/01 on the Conservation of the Historic Environment of the Isle of Man , other draft planning policy statements, and a small number of planning circulars. The Wildlife Act 1990 supports the protection of natural habitats and species.