Major regeneration work in Ramsey’s biggest shopping street is currently ahead of schedule and could be completed by September.
A section of Parliament Street has been closed since October 2013 as wider pavements, improved pedestrian crossings and traffic calming measures are installed as part of a regeneration initiative.
Originally scheduled to reopen in mid-November 2014, completion of the Parliament Street works has been revised to September, subject to weather conditions and unexpected issues with underground services which are being renewed before a new road surface is laid.
The street’s businesses have been accessible to pedestrian traffic throughout the work, and the road was temporarily reopened during TT to assist in traffic flow through the town.
But the development has inevitably created disruption as traffic has been diverted onto the quayside via East Street, while at the same time the swing bridge has remained out of service for emergency repairs.
Apart from a three month gap between the original 13-month regeneration project on the square itself and subsequent work on Parliament Street, the area has endured near-continual development work since June 2012 at a cost of around £2.5 million.
Ramsey Commissioners chairman Captain Nigel Malpass praised the residents and businesses of Ramsey for their patience and enthusiasm:
‘When it all started we had nothing but complaints, but now the situation is totally reversed - people stop me in the street to tell me how much they enjoy the new-look town.
‘It’s been very positive and it will all be worth it, despite the pain that some of the local businesses have had to undergo. We really appreciate their forbearance.’
Captain Malpass continued: ‘I walk into Parliament Square now and people stop me to say how much they enjoy the ambiance, it’s a nice place to be. ‘
He highlighted the community and economic benefits of the work: ‘Regeneration isn’t about the Government spending money, it’s about people doing something for themselves - it’s been done by the people of Ramsey. There’s a sense of community spirit that I think wasn’t there a few years ago.
‘26 new businesses have started in Ramsey over the last two years, and we have lost only six in that time.’
In a statement, Ramsey Regeneration Committee chairman Allan Bell MHK, commented:
‘I am pleased that the benefits are now being seen on the ground and hope that the people of Ramsey will continue to support these efforts to revitalise the town.
‘I appreciate that the works are disruptive, especially to businesses, but once completed Ramsey town centre will be a more appealing destination.’
He also reminded residents that funding may be available for exterior improvements to properties: ‘With Government’s regeneration funding available to specifically target town centre improvements, there is no excuse for anyone not to join in with the spirit of what we are trying to achieve.’