CONTRACTORS’ fencing has gone up around part of one of the worst grot spots on Douglas seafront.
But those hoping that redevelopment is about to begin at last on a vacant Loch Promenade plot fronting the so-called Town Square will be in for a disappointment.
In fact, the area known as the Villiers site, remains under offer more than two years after a sale agreement was first reached with owners Axa.
Michael Chapman, agent for the owners, said ‘certain legal formalities’ still needed to be resolved before the sale could go through.
In the meantime, fencing has been put up around part of the site while contractors carry out repairs to the leaking underground car park of the RBS bank next door.
Mr Chapman said: ‘There was a problem with the roof of the underground car park. Paving stones have been lifted and the roof sealed.’
Axa commissioned architects in the 1990s to develop a phased masterplan to regenerate the derelict seafront Loch Promenade site with an elegant terrace of offices with a basement car park and a civic space behind.
But the £14 million scheme was never completed and only the RBS bank on the corner plot once occupied by the landmark Villiers hotel together with the basement car park and unloved Town Square were ever built.
The concrete and gravel plot known as Town Square was officially opened in 2003.
At the time it was described as a ‘modern urban space’ whose benches were supposed to represent ‘driftwood scattered along the shore of a gently sloping beach rising to wooded cliffs’.
A decade on, that’s a description that few would use.
The cleared site neighbouring the RBS bank together with the Town Square and the plot to the front of the boarded up building on Regent Street were put on the market in the summer of 2009 by Axa, with offers invited over £3 million.
By September of that year, it was announced that an agreement had been reached to sell the 82,000 sq ft site.
Mr Chapman told the Examiner this remained the case.
He said: ‘It’s been under offer for some time while certain legal formalities are sorted out.
‘Various issues concerned with planning have to be resolved. We are still having discussions with the parties involved.’
The most recent planning consent for the Villiers site was secured in 2004 with approval given to AXA for a scheme which included offices, luxury apartments and shops overlooking a courtyard in the style of an Italian piazza.
Mr Chapman said that planning consent remained valid until 2013.
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