Town centre Masterplan to take big step forward in new year

Proposed Fort and Maritime Gateway showing new Town Square and redeveloped Sea Terminal

Proposed Fort and Maritime Gateway showing new Town Square and redeveloped Sea Terminal

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A major announcement will be made next month about the long-awaited redevelopment of Lord Street, Douglas.

Chief Minister Allan Bell said the preferred developer had been selected, heads of agreement were being finalised and final proposals will be announced next month.

The scheme forms part of the ambitious Masterplan scheme for the transformation of central Douglas.

Mr Bell said unlike previous plans to regenerate the Lord Street area - including the ill-fated Askett Hawk scheme for a four-star hotel on the old bus station site, he was confident that this project would go-ahead.

‘This really is a substantial development and it will happen,’ he told the Examiner.

‘If the heads of agreement are signed quickly, the developer is anxious to get on site before the autumn. This will be a major boost to economic growth for the island and Douglas itself. It will improve the image of the island tremendously, completing the regeneration of North Quay, and be a big boost for construction.’

Mr Bell remained tight-lipped about exactly what the scheme will involve before the big announcement next year.

Plans for a bold vision to create a ‘world class’ capital were unveiled in October last year by the Cabinet Office.

The proposals for Parade Street and the site of the former Lord Street bus station, in an area potentially designated The Fort and the Maritime Gateway, included the construction of an all-weather Winter Gardens, multiplex cinema and multistory car park.

Other proposals were for a new Civic Square, construction of a new pedestrian bridge over the river at the Nunnery and possible replacement of the 1960s Sea Terminal with a purpose-built port and cruise line terminal.

Tynwald approved the framework for the Masterplan in February this year.

The plug was pulled in February 2013 on a 120-bedroom quayside hotel development earmarked for the bus station site in Douglas.

Askett Hawk was named as the preferred developer for the £70m scheme in 2006 and was granted a controversial 999-year lease for the Lord Street site in March 2008.

But the plan collapsed when it failed to submit a planning application in time to meet the January 30 deadline.

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