The Isle of Man combines beautiful unspoilt scenery with a thriving economy which has enjoyed more than 30 years of continued economic growth. Around half of the Island’s 85,000 population live within three miles of Douglas harbour and the majority of the remaining economically active work there. For all the open space on the Isle of Man, Douglas has a shortage.
Douglas has a wonderful promenade walkway which sweeps around Douglas bay. Although built during the Victorian tourist boom it has been used in increasing numbers by residents including walkers, runners and cyclists for fitness, families who enjoy free use of the space, children learn to ride bikes, dog walkers abound, parents push prams, there are roller skaters too and many other types of users. If it was build in the modern era it would surely be hailed as a masterpiece in improving our lifestyles by providing a wide open expanse so close to where we live and work.
The Isle of Man has planning policies that protect open space and conserve important areas. The present and recent governments have policies to encourage recreation and to attract more residents to the island. Yet its own Department of Infrastructure introduced car parking on Loch Promenade for 6 months between November 2014 and April 2015. Immediately thereafter it announced plans to run the horse trams along the whole of the walkway. Every plan for the walkway demonstrated a lack of understanding for the welfare of its users and for planning law. On 12 May 2015 a campaign began to keep both cars and horse trams off the walkway.
Following a three day public inquiry in November 2015, an independent planning inspector recommended to the Council of Ministers on 31 January 2016 that the planning application should be rejected. It was not until 22 March 2016 that the Cabinet Office revealed that the application had been rejected. Here is what we said on the morning of the announcement when we knew it was imminent - read the most popular of all our Facebook posts here.
This website will be retained as a permanent record of a dreadfully flawed planning application to which a record number of people objected and as a reference source should there be any further attempts to destroy the promenade walkway’s amenity value.
The phrase Legend is often used and too little meant, for this man though, it could be used a thousand times over.
I am so sorry to Marie, Robbie, Ben and all of Murray's family.
I am so sorry to both the Athletics and wider Isle of Man community for which he was such a linchpin.
I am so sorry to have lost such a damn decent chap and my friend.
Sorry, I've written too much, but he always did that too. ... See MoreSee Less
Keep cars and horse trams off the walkway added 8 new photos.
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the issue of the planning decision by the Council of Ministers, to refuse the Department of Infrastructure's (DoI) planning application.
The application was for 'Re-construction of the highway and footways to create a low speed streetscape, re-location of horse tram tracks on to the promenade walkway, re-surfacing the promenade walkway and creation of a cultural quarter near Gaiety Theatre '.
Yet It was the following day before the decision was published on the government's website almost at the same time as the DoI issued a press release in which the (then) DoI Minister Phil Gawne said;
‘While I respect the decision to support the recommendation of the independent planning inspector, I feel an opportunity has been missed to do something bold and inspiring. I believe the Department designed the best possible scheme for Douglas Promenade, one that would have served the best interests of the Isle of Man, its economy and its people for the next 50 years. The Department felt the horse trams could operate safely at the side of a widened walkway, but the planning inspector was persuaded by concerns raised at the public inquiry.’
A Freedom of Information request subsequently revealed that the report of the Independent Planning Inspector had been received almost two months earlier on 31 January but no explanation was ever given as to why the damning report was not acted upon sooner.
Although the response to the information request was unsatisfactory, no appeal was made as it would have been counterproductive to have incurred further costs for the taxpayer when the DoI had already proven themselves to be experts in this matter.
The campaign to keep cars and horse trams off the walkway unified the majority wishing to retain the horse trams with those that wanted to end the service; all wanted the retention of the uninhibited use of this invaluable piece of public open space.
During the period of the campaign Douglas Corporation decided to close the service and sell the horse trams.
Railways are normally built with the minimum of twists and turns but the Douglas Bay Tramway has seen three “U” turns in the past year. Mr Gawne submitted a revised planning application to run a single track next to the pavement, on a part of the promenade, but when Tynwald decided to go the whole length he said that was his preference in any event. In December the House of Keys voted in favour of double tracks in the middle of the road but for only three quarters of the distance. Then January’s Tynwald sitting voted to add a single track on Loch Promenade but without deciding where.
The DoI's 2015 application was made from its offices within the iconic Sea Terminal "lemon squeezer" building on its 50th anniversary. The previous year the Douglas Master Plan proposed its demolition. It survived to house a truly awful decision by the DoI in October 2014 to allow car parking on the walkway for six months – to replace the spaces lost whilst the roadway was being rebuilt; a decision the DoI itself had delayed by a year.
Throughout the prolonged period that the application survived the DoI refused to note the hundreds of formal objections to the planning application preferring the advice from "the experts" it hired who appeared to know so little about Douglas that the Jubilee Buildings were magically moved from Victoria Street to the Central Promenade.
Plenty of other things were to be moved too to facilitate the relocation of the horse trams from the road except where they are most dangerous - crossing the traffic! The palm trees in Queens Gardens were to be relocated and the seating was to be moved from the sheltered side of the walkway to the most exposed places.
Apart from moving the horse trams the DoI’s planning application sought to improve the traffic flow by replacing the double lanes of traffic in front of the Villa with a single lane. There wouldn’t be many people queuing on the promenade last week who agreed that a single lane improves traffic flow!
There remain many views about the future of the promenade but using the walkway as a car park or a tram track must remain off all future agendas.
Co-founder, with Tim Knott and David Griffin, of the campaign to keep cars and horse trams off the walkway. ... See MoreSee Less
Philip Lisy, Lesley Eburne and 23 others like this
Tony R HedgesThank you for all your hard work over the years representing the interests of those that were opposed to the plans to spoil our lovely prom.9 months ago · 1
PQ DeHavenThank you for founding the FB group Murray - you and all your hardworking team saved the day uniting the people to bring common sense to the fore! Hope you are well ?9 months ago · 1
Jackie CooperYes thanks Murray. But wouldn't the whole sorry mess be a brilliant Monty Python episode ?!9 months ago
Keep cars and horse trams off the walkway added 6 new photos.
Hi everyone. Thought some people might be interested in the reply (received on Saturday) from the DoI. I thought it was considered and balanced. Of course my comments were submitted just before the much revised parking announcement. I've attached the full correspondence trail (in reverse order) for full transparency.
Murray ... See MoreSee Less
Linda Espey, Marjorie Dugdale and 12 others like this
Happy 2017 promenade walkway users.
2016 was a year of many dramatic changes of plan for Douglas Promenade Walkway.
The year began with the outcome of the public inquiry, held in November 2015 into the planning application by the Department of Infrastructure to move the horse trams onto the walkway, still uncertain.
Three weeks into the year Douglas Borough Council, who only a few weeks earlier had told the planning inspector that they planned to operate the trams safely on the walkway, announced that they were discontinuing the tram service and selling them all.
Although it took a Freedom of Information request to confirm our belief, the planning inspector's report was sent to the Cabinet Office on 31 January.
Much to the public's dismay, it was not until 22 March that the Council of Ministers announced that they had accepted the recommendation of the planning inspector to reject the planning application.
Co-incidentally (yeah!) the Department of Infrastructure announced on the same date that they were submitting new plans for the promenade and these were submitted just over a week later on April Fool's Day.
It was not until July that the April Fool was withdrawn after Tynwald backed a plan to run the horse trams, operated by the DoI along the whole length of the promenade next to the pavement. The Minister, Phil Gawne, who moved the motion that the trams should run part way said he actually always wanted them to run the full length of the prom!
Mr Gawne lost his seat in the House of Keys elections in September and two months later Ray Harmer, the new Minister, had overseen the temporary resurfacing of the northern end of the road.
The December sitting of Tynwald was asked to back his policy of reducing the tracks by just over half a mile but keeping twin tracks in the middle of the road for the remainder. After several amendments failed, 21 MHK's backed the scheme (only 2 voted against) but the Legislative Council voted 4-3 against. A combined vote will be taken in January 2017.
Not for the first time, today I have devoted several hours to the campaign website http://douglaspromenade.im/ in the hope that history will record the policies and statements made before Mr Gawne delayed the outcome of the promenade redevelopment for five years or more, the work of our campaign, the outcome and even the post planning decision frustrations.
In particular I have added all of the documents disclosed through this request. I think I have also fixed a number of broken links
I am pleased (although others might be glad not to hear the sound of my voice anymore!) to have recovered a copy of my live Manx Radio interview the day after the planning decision was announced:
and the one I recorded on 19 February when I predicted accurately the outcome.
The photo included this post (taken by my late father Bill Lambden) has fascinated me since I first published it because it includes the Villa Marina, a yellow bus and an advert for Port Soderick, all formerly operated by Douglas Corporation.
2016 was the year that the horse trams belatedly, and through a shocking process, handed them to the Isle of Man Government.
I hope that I can stick to my word this time and withdraw from too much comment but I hope that you will find the updated website a source of reference.
Having hogged the limelight a little too much I have copied some words of mine from the website as they remain as relevant now as when they were written.
'Regardless of whether it made any difference I would like to highlight some of the key people who worked so hard for the campaign.
Had David Griffin not vented his anger to me in an email I might not have decided “enough is enough”. Tim Knott joined David and I at the start and it was his rallying calls on the Facebook page and willingness to do media interviews that started the momentum.
The two people who designed the template, but who did not wish to be named, enabled so many people who would otherwise have been overwhelmed by the planning process to lodge their objections.
The best advocates of our cause at the planning inquiry were not all part of the campaign.
Bruce Hannay used all his specialist knowledge to challenge every step along the prom, Maria Bridson ran circles around the applicant team, Dudley Butt, like the good former policeman he was, delivered the searching questions in timely fashion and David Quirk asked more than anyone.
We appreciate everyone who showed their support in all forms. We have been at pains to say that the opposition was not just within Facebook but people also telephoned and wrote letters to us.
Richard Halsall became a part of our inner circle and offered invaluable advice, Margaret Brown, with her experience of campaigning against the breaking of the reciprocal healthcare agreement was a rock to me and Pauline DeHaven who I had never met before became a daily correspondent. Long- time friend Chris Quine was another who I consulted along the way and people like Chris Cale helped the cause no end with his sharing of posts and by organising the Skanco Fun Runs there.
As we said previously, the scrapping of the horse tram service at the 11th hour was a victory for no-one. The planning inspector’s decision is a victory for all the families, the runners, the walkers, the cyclists, the dog owners, the tourists and many other user groups who wish to enjoy the open space.
We would all have been much happier had the money not been wasted and the road had been repaired much sooner but consider this.
Had the objections not caused a public inquiry and had the planning application been approved, Mr Gawne intended to seek Tynwald approval in October and start work in November. Queens Gardens might have been ripped up and tram lines installed on the walkway only for Douglas Corporation, who take no credit in this fiasco of a planning application, to have announced in January that they were not going to operate the trams.
Finally, as this is on Facebook, thank you to all 3,428 who showed your support here and kept us positive throughout the campaign,'
Murray Lambden ... See MoreSee Less
Philip Lisy, Dennis Curphey and 23 others like this
Chris QuineGreat work by yourself and the team Murray and I am sure that future generations will be eternally grateful for all your efforts and hard work.1 year ago · 3
Alison CowleyWow - that's some saga - and it's not over yet.......! Thank you, Murray, and all your helpers. You've done an amazing job.1 year ago · 1
PQ DeHavenExcellent work Murray - we are indebted to you and your team, for all the hard work (and no doubt sleepless nights) you put in to saving our unique walkway and open space. Maria's presentation at the public inquiry was outstanding, so well prepared and researched. Thank you all for caring! 🙂1 year ago
Suzanne BlundellHope things go better for you all than they went for Port Soderick. A wonderful place in the 60's, now a ruined and desolate sad mess. Love the Isle of Man and hope all that is good can be preserved. Your work is appreciated.1 year ago
Tomorrow will be the last day without cars on the walkway for four weeks but, as we know, that is a third less time it will have cars on it than most of the last 20 years or so.
in 2015 the parking had already commenced at the end of November when the public inquiry into the planning application was held and we saw a remarkable contribution from Maria Bridson. Follow this link for the memory.
I remember her asking the designers whether they were designing a road or a car park?
On the first day of our campaign we took Tim Knott's advice not to say where we thought the trams should be sited, that was somebody's else's problem. The outcome is still not known although hopefully, next Tuesday, Tynwald will decide once and for all.
A year ago we could only dream that a Minister for Infrastructure would make this statement as the current one, Ray Harmer has:
"Following the previous planning determination, the Promenade walkway is out of scope for the location of the horse tramway, primarily due to the walkway being designated Public Open Space and the conflict of introducing a transportation system; both Loch Promenade and Queens Promenade were highlighted for the loss of amenity."
So whatever outcome you are hoping for on Tuesday carry on engaging in the political system. A year ago people told us we wouldn't get what we wanted but you have to enter the race to win.
(ML) ... See MoreSee Less
Philip Lisy, Lynne J Mcgrath and 23 others like this
David Grenaby Maddrell, Barbara Simpson and 23 others like this
View previous comments
Gail GriffithsWe thank Murray for saving our safe space to enjoy. So glad he enjoyed seeing over 350 male & female run most of the full length of the promenade & back during the Easter festival of running on Sunday.. how fitting that was where I last saw him & we shared the joy of our local ladies team win for the club we're both a member of. Murray will be remembered & missed for many years to come9 months ago · 4
Stephen MylchreestAll of us who continually enjoy walking, cycling or just relaxing on the prom owe Murray a massive debt of gratitude which we can now never repay. But Murray was much more than just the man who saved the walkway. Thank you and goodbye. R.I.P. Murray. Our deepest sympathies to all your family.9 months ago · 16
Freda PotterI worked with Murray for a few years.Always a gentleman. RIP sympathy to his family.9 months ago · 2
Mark HarrisHow sad. So sorry for your loss. They should rename the Promenade after him to be honest. We all owe Murray a great debt. R.I.P.9 months ago · 2
Phyl CashinSo,so sorry to hear of Murray's death at such a young age. I remember him from his young childhood living in Kirk Michael. His parents , a very dedicated and committed pair in everything they were involved . A lovely family. Deepest condolences to his three siblings and of course to his wife and boys . Sad day !9 months ago · 4
Pete HartleyHe was and always will be remembered for being Mr community and Mr Parish Walk. It's down to his the love of the Isle and its events that they got the coverage they did. I only met him the once, by accident and he was a true Gent with a smile on his face. My sincere condolences to the family at this sad time. They should hold a silence at the start of the Parish this year as a sign of respect.9 months ago
PQ DeHavenOh my goodness! Surely not! He will be sorely missed by so many - I think of him every time we walk on the prom walkway. Thank you Murray RIP. Sincere condolences to Marie, Ben, Robbie & all Murray's family. xx9 months ago · 4
Russell CollisterVery sad news. Murray encouraged everyone; young, old, fast, slow. A great competitor too yet always more interested in how others were doing. Our sporting Island is so much poorer without him. RIP Murray and sympathy to his family on whom he doted.9 months ago
Ann-Marie MurphyUnbelievable and very sad news. RIP Murray.9 months ago · 2
Rose RotherhamSuch sad news, a lovely man. Condolences to Marie and the boys9 months ago · 1
Moira HarrisonSo very sorry to see this Condolences to all the family Xx9 months ago · 1
Eileen CurpheyOur sympathy to all the family, Murray will be missed by many.9 months ago · 2
Julia DuffyVery sad news. Deepest condolences to Murray's family.9 months ago · 1
Michelle WardWhat a wonderful man and a wonderful community activist... as in the always got his hands dirty and did his best for the community xx he will be sadly missed9 months ago
Anne-Marie RiversSuch sad news. Condolences to his family & friends - he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.9 months ago · 1
Len CarrShocked to see this sad news condolences to Murrays family sad day , R.I.P your a star9 months ago
Cath SmithRIP, Murray. You were a nice bloke and one hell of a campaigner. A sad day for the Island. Thoughts with his family.9 months ago
Nikki MorrisonCondolences to all of you on such a sad day.9 months ago
Julie SimpsonSo sad a great loss to the Island but will always be remembered sincere sympathy to family and friends remember him from school all that hair x9 months ago · 1
Margy KilleyHow sad. Lovely encouraging guy. He will be greatly missed. Thinking about his family at this sad time.9 months ago
Patricia Gwen WardIt was an honour to have known Murray so sorry9 months ago
Lesley HawesRest In Peace Murray.9 months ago · 1
Minnie QuayleSo sad. Much love to you Marie, Robbie and Ben, and all your family x9 months ago
Noni RichardsonSuch sad news, love to Marie and family x9 months ago
Marilyn BrownSo very sorry to hear such sad news. My thoughts are with Marie and family.9 months ago
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