Sefton Group weighs up options over potential developments

Palace Hotel, Central Promenade, Douglas

Palace Hotel, Central Promenade, Douglas

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Knock down the Palace Hotel, on Douglas seafront and redevelop the site, or develop the Middlemarch site.

That’s the decision facing the Sefton Group board after figures for the last financial year showed a turnaround in the company’s position, with an exceptional pre-tax profit of £10.3m recorded.

Sir Miles Walker, who stepped down as chairman after the annual general meeting on Wednesday, said: ‘The plans moving forward are to redevelop the facilities at the Palace. It’s a 1960s building, not very beautiful and fair to say, past its best. It needs to be rebuilt.

‘The debate is whether it should be on the present Palace site or whether we should move into the town centre at Middlemarch. Both have their strengths.’

He said feasibility studies needed to be carried out on both sites – and that a decision needs to be made ‘as soon as possible’: ‘Uncertainty doesn’t do anyone any good.’

The government announced in April 2013 it had signed a deal to buy the Middlemarch site in Lord Street with a view to leasing it back over five years, and a £1.3m loan.

Sir Miles said the government’s support was ‘crucial’ to the restructure and praised the government’s ‘courage’.

He said he was stepping down from the board with ‘mixed feelings’, adding: ‘The easiest thing would have been to walk away four years ago and try to let someone else sort it out.

‘I’m not made that way.’

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