Hotel scheme a mixed bag says council leader

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DOUGLAS Council leader David Christian has said he is delighted plans for the development of the Lord Street bus station site can finally be drawn up.

But his response to progress on the long-awaited scheme was edged with a note of caution. ‘I still have concerns in relation to what bus station facilities are going to be provided,’ he said. ‘Now they have got this stage further they are going to have to make that decision.’

It was announced last week that plans for the £70 million hotel, flats, shopping and restaurant development can be drawn up, after an agreement was exchanged between the Department of Infrastructure and developers Askett Hawk (Isle of Man) Ltd. Askett Hawk will now work with planners with a view to submitting an application for the Douglas quayside regeneration in the near future, a DoI spokesman said.

Should the plans be successful, it would mean a mixed use development comprising a 120-bedroom, four-star hotel, 60 serviced flats and restaurants overlooking the inner harbour, plus 24 retail and leisure units on Lord Street, together with 150 car parking spaces.

Mr Christian also raised fears over the implications of the retail section of the development.

‘They are providing 16,000 to 17,000 square metres of retail space,’ he said. ‘When shops are closing is there a real need for more retail space? The Chamber of Commerce certainly doesn’t think there is.

‘I’d hate to see stores attracted to the site and leave a hole in Strand Street.’

Despite these concerns, he was generally upbeat about the scheme, saying it would give the building industry ‘a shot in the arm’.

‘Along with our plans (for the library and multi-storey car park) for across the road, the Sefton’s plans for a hotel and the work Heron and Brearley is doing on the quay I am pleased,’ said Mr Christian. ‘That’s massive regeneration of lower Douglas, on a site that’s been looking derelict for the best part of 25/30 years. It’s the gateway to the Isle of Man.’

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