Three huge developments that could transform the face of two island communities have been given a tentative green light.

They include schemes for Douglas which will see 55 apartments and an 80 bedroom hotel built on two separate sites,

A third project in Port Erin will see a complex with 38 apartments put-up on the site of the village's former Ocean Castle Hotel.

All three developments will take place on what the government deems 'key brownfield sites' on the island.

The Department for Enterprise has today confirmed that all three proposals have been approved in principle and will receive public funding from the Island Infrastructure Scheme in a bid to turn the vision into a reality.

Almost £50m will also be pumped into the project from private sector investors.

Tim Johnston MHK, Minister for Enterprise, said: ‘The Island Infrastructure Scheme represents a significant stride towards realising the Island’s vision for sustainable growth, connectivity and prosperity.

‘Through this scheme, we are leveraging private sector funding and capability in line with the economic strategy, working together to secure the regeneration of complex urban unoccupied sites.

(Above) Artist's impression of potential development: Villiers Square, Douglas
(Above) Artist's impression of potential development: Villiers Square, Douglas (supplied)

'We are now enabling the redevelopment of key vacant sites across the Island which have remained empty for decades.

'The combination of substantial construction activity, together with ongoing active use post regeneration over many years, ensures that as well as securing substantial private sector investment, there is an expected overall value to the economy and the public purse significantly in excess of any grants ultimately paid.

‘By breathing new life into neglected spaces, this Scheme not only addresses the pressing issue the Island faces, but also demonstrates our commitment, as outlined in our Island Plan, to creating a more vibrant, sustainable and inclusive future, with towns and our capital at the heart of development, enabling communities to thrive.’

The three schemes announced by the government include:

  • A major redevelopment of the former Villiers Hotel site on Loch Promenade in Douglas by Tevir Properties Limited. They want to create a mixed use development at the site which will include over 80,000 square foot of commercial, retail and leisure space, together with a 'high quality public realm' incorporating a new civic square and 80 bedroom hotel.
  • A plan to build 55 apartments at Lake Road in Douglas by Duluth Limited, part of the Dandara Group
  • A plan to build 38 apartments on the site of the former Ocean Castle Hotel in Port Erin

All three projects will go ahead thanks in large part to a government scheme, launched in January this year, which provides up to 25% funding in support of registered unoccupied urban sites that have been empty for many years and are not financially viable to redevelop without additional support.

The government says the Lake Road and Ocean Castle Hotel will provide residential accommodation in line with the Island Plan’s ambition to improve housing provisions, with 1,000 additional occupied homes by the end of 2026. 

Planning applications for both sites will be lodged within six months and the government has agreed in principle to foot up to 10% of the projects' costs, excluding any land deals, which will be paid when the project is finished.

(Above) Artist's impression of potential development: Ocean Castle, Port Erin
(Above) Artist's impression of potential development: Ocean Castle, Port Erin (supplied)

A detailed planning application for the Villiers Hotel site scheme will be lodged by the end of the year and, subject to planning, should be finished by 2026.

The government says that an agreement to pay up to 25% of eligible costs has been approved in principle for that project with the money paid when the development is finished.

The government says that further applications remain under consideration, and the Department for Enterprise is also considering a further round for residential developments later in the year.

Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Treasury Minister added: ‘Key ambitions outlined in Our Island Plan and Economic Strategy are to further develop infrastructure and services for our community and plan for increased jobs, increased visitors and an increased working population.

'By providing funding from the £100m Economic Strategy Fund for schemes such as the Island Infrastructure Scheme, we are supporting and incentivising the private sector to invest in our Island while contributing to the economic growth, prosperity and sustainability of our Island.

‘The considerable investment sought from the private sector is aligned with our ambitions to see £1bn invested over the long term, comprising both public and private finance, which in turn will allow us to further develop our Island and create an environment that is vibrant and attractive for all.

‘The provision of support in principle to the private sector is a key element of this approach to regeneration, sitting alongside the direct work the Manx Development Corporation (MDC) which is publically owned, and progressing with its own plans for Government-owned brownfield sites.

‘As well as the existing work underway for the former Nurses Home in Douglas, and the plans now lodged for Westmoreland Road, which combined will see 170 residential homes created as well as commercial and social developments, MDC plays an important role in supporting the regeneration of Douglas.

(Above) Artist's impression of potential development: Lake Road, Douglas
(Above) Artist's impression of potential development: Lake Road, Douglas (supplied)

‘During the last year, MDC has undertaken a number of investigations, surveys and feasibility studies around the Parade Street car park site in Lower Douglas. Following these investigations and approval from its steering group, MDC are in the early stages of a design process to create a multi-use development on the site.

‘Working in line with the already approved Tynwald masterplan for Lower Douglas, and the latest Area plan for the East, the site will include an expansion of its current capacity as a car park to help unlock the potential of the Lower Douglas area. The development will support already established businesses in the area along with any future brownfield developments within the vicinity.’

The Treasury Minister continued: ‘Extensive collaboration and stakeholder engagement with both public and private organisations continues to be undertaken, to refine what is required to ensure the best outcome, both financially and in terms of providing key public facilities that are currently lacking.

'This project exemplifies MDC’s purpose, to be a catalyst for the positive transformation of the Island’s urban landscape for the benefit of all Manx Citizens. Further information and a public consultation about this project are planned for the coming months.

‘Today marks an important milestone as we confirm substantial private sector appetite for regeneration, supported by the Island Infrastructure Scheme and complementing Government’s own plans through MDC for the Lower Douglas area.’

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