A billionaire property tycoon is behind plans for a medicinal cannabis factory, which have just been unveiled.

Sunday Times Rich List regular John Whittaker, who lives in the south of the island, is chairman of the group that hopes to build a development on the outskirts of Douglas.

Regeneration and clean energy company Peel NRE wants to build what it calls a ’science innovation and research centre sustainable energy park’ and medicinal cannabis facility.

The proposals follow a change in the legislation of cannabis production and exportation on the Isle of Man.

In January 2021 a resolution was passed to legalise the growing, production and export of medicinal cannabis, though it is still not legal to consume here as a recreational drug.

Peel NRE says the facility, planned for a 72-acre site, would create a ’once-in-a-generation opportunity for the island to become a leader in the emerging medicinal cannabis sector’.

Its planning application will include detail for the first phase of the development, including two units for the cultivation facility as well as an access road, engineering works and preliminary landscaping.

There would also be a solar farm, electricity substation and surface water lagoon - and the science and innovation research centre would include offices, laboratories and spaces for conferences.

Located at the corner of Cooil Road and the New Castletown Road, it said the scheme will create ’high quality technical jobs’, and help the island ’develop home-grown talent that will contribute to research into cannabinoids for pharmaceutical uses’.

Peel says the facility could bring between £90m and £180m of investment to the island’s economy.

’By incorporating and building on innovative technologies found in cannabis facilities across the world, the development will set a gold standard for the burgeoning cannabis industry, enabling the island to lead the way on medicinal research and cultivation best practice,’ a statement from the company says.

The statement continued: ’The multi-million-pound development will represent a major investment in the Isle of Man, bringing economic opportunities to the local supply chain from the construction to operational stages.


’It will generate high quality technical jobs by establishing a destination for science and technological excellence showcasing the island’s innovation and capitalising on the global growth in the sector.’

Planning and development manager Stephen Snowdon said: ’The Isle of Man Government is seeking to establish an innovation cluster on the island, dedicated to the production and export of cannabis-derived products serving the medicinal and pharmaceutical markets.

’We are excited to bring our proposals forward to help to create a new export market, more jobs and attract a range of specialist scientific and research and development industries to the island to support the local economy.

’With 20 years’ experience of delivering transformational projects and extensive knowledge of the island, we’re in a strong position to support the government to achieve success in this emerging growth industry and we invite the public to have their say on these plans.’

Peel NRE’s parent company, the Peel Group, owns and manages 12 million square feet of property.

Among its assets are Greater Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Media City, and parts of Liverpool docks.

The company said that the fact its principal shareholders have been resident in the island for over 40 years made the decision to develop here ’an easy one’.

The company is asking people to submit their views about the proposal before a planning application is submitted.

This can be done by visiting www.peelnreconsultation.co.im (where plans can also be viewed), emailing [email protected], or calling 01624 812 048.

People can also register online for two webinars, held on February 23 and March 3 at 6pm.

Comments submitted by March 7 will be reviewed by the project team.