Onchan Local Plan:
8.1 There are two primary schools located within the study area - Onchan Primary School and Ashley Hill. The assessed permanent capacity of Onchan School is 430 pupils with 392 pupils on the school roll in 1998. Ashley Hill has an assessed permanent capacity of 371 pupils with 333 pupils attending the school in 1998. There is clearly not a great deal of additional capacity for the accommodation of further pupils brought about by inter alia, an increase in the amount of land which is zoned for residential development. In addition to this, any increase in the numbers of primary school pupils will have a knock-on effect on the number of secondary school pupils: the majority of Onchan children currently attend St. Ninian's, Park Road and Ballakermeen Schools for their secondary level of education. The Department of Education has identified a site at the Cooil Road as suitable for a new secondary school if this is deemed necessary.
8.2 The land currently identified for educational purposes within Onchan lies in three places - Onchan and Ashley Hill Schools and a large piece of land between Government House and Heywood Park. The zone of education land use around Onchan Primary School comprises not only the current land used by the School but also an area which lies between the top of Sandringham Drive and School Road - an area roughly the size of two pairs of semi-detached properties one fronting onto Sandringham Drive and the other onto School Road. This piece of land has clearly once been intended for residential development of a form similar to that which has already been built further down both streets, but has subsequently been considered suitable for retention for educational purposes should Onchan Primary School ever need to expand as there is no opportunity for expansion on any of the school's other boundaries. Despite having been zoned for educational purposes since 1989 - a point noted by the Inspector - and the school having been extended within its existing curtilage, the area below the school has not been the subject of any proposals for use in connection with Onchan Primary School. However the Department considers it appropriate that the land should remain designated for educational purposes in order that Onchan Primary School should not become completely unable to expand or improve its facilities.
8.3 The piece of land between Heywood Park and Government House (Area 11) is substantial in size (around 25 acres) and far exceeds the amount of land which would be required for the development of a new primary school on its own. However, the site represents an important boundary between Douglas and Onchan and represents and area which should remain substantially free from development if the two settlements are to be prevented from merging at this point (some coalescence has already taken place between Birch Hill and Governors' Hill where development has taken place more or less right up to the TT course on both sides of the road).
8.4 The Department is confident that with careful design and an emphasis on open space and tree and shrub planting a new primary school could be provided on this site without this resulting in development occurring right up to the road and such that the open aspect and some space can be retained within the site thus separating Douglas and Onchan. The Department also feels that a small amount of appropriate residential development and recreational provision could be accommodated at the northern end of the site without the open appearance of the site being compromised (see paragraphs 3.16, 4.21, 4.22, 4.52, 9.2 and 9.5).
8.5 The Department is aware that there are from time to time problems with the accommodation of unexpected and often temporary rises in the school's population and the Department of Education is often forced to consider the installation of mobile classrooms within the school's curtilage. This has been the case at Ashley Hill in recent years (although all but one of these have now been removed) whereas the opportunity has been available for the extension of Onchan School when the situation arose there. Whilst the Department of Local Government and the Environment understands the situation in which the Department of Education finds itself in these circumstances, it is also aware that mobile classrooms seldom enhance the setting and appearance of the school with which they are associated and sometimes, depending upon their location, they cause offence to people living close by. As such, the Department would encourage the Department to avoid the use of mobile classrooms where at all possible and where these are essential, the Department would urge the sensitive location of such structures where such are not likely to cause nuisance to adjacent residents.
8.6 The Department of Education has advised that the additional capacity of both schools currently operating in the local plan area is not significant and that additional new development should be carefully controlled to ensure that such does not place additional pressure upon the schools. In this respect it is essential that new development is phased such that the existing facilities can expand in line with increasing pupil numbers and so that pupils can be accommodated satisfactorily.
8.7 In light of the above the following policies and recommendation are considered appropriate for Onchan:
8.8 DEVELOPMENT WHICH IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROVISION OF EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES OTHER THAN DEVELOPMENT REFERRED TO IN PARAGRAPHS 3.16, 4.21, 4.22, 4.52, 9.2 AND 9.5 WILL NOT BE PERMITTED ON LAND WHICH IS DESIGNATED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES IN THE SCHEME ORDER.
8.9 NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE STUDY AREA, DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT GENERALLY BE PERMITTED IF THE EXISTING SCHOOLS ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE ABLE TO ACCOMMODATE THE INCREASED SCHOOL POPULATION PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THE DEVELOPMENT, UNTIL SUCH TIMES AS THE REQUIRED ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE.
O/E/P/3 - SANDRINGHAM DRIVE/SCHOOL ROAD SITE - Area 17
8.10 THE SITE WILL CONTINUE TO BE RESERVED FOR EDUCATIONAL USE.
8.11 THE USE OF MOBILE CLASSROOMS TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL ACCOMMODATION FOR EXISTING SCHOOLS WITHIN THE LOCAL PLAN AREA SHOULD BE AVOIDED. WHERE THIS CANNOT BE AVOIDED SUCH SHOULD BE LOCATED SUCH THAT THEY DO NOT CAUSE NUISANCE OR ADVERSE IMPACT ON ADJACENT PROPERTY.