What next for Summerland site?

Friday 19th August 2022 2:00 pm
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Public opinions on the future of the Summerland site - Richard Simpson (Ballaugh)

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With the former Summerland site currently being surveyed by the government for redevelopment, the Isle of Man Examiner asked the public what they would like to see on the derelict area.

The 3.81 acres of land has been for sale since 2008, categorised as a ‘prime development site’, and the Manx Development Corporation are surveying it to ‘understand the characteristics of the existing ground, cliff face, site ecology and other potential existing site risks’.

The site at the end of Douglas Promenade has been subject to several failed attempts at redevelopment over the years, including a proposal by the Sefton Group for a new leisure centre called The Wave in 2009.

Richard Simpson, of Ballaugh, believes any future project on the site needs to be commercially viable and well thought out.

He said: ‘Some people want gardens and that type of thing, and on the other side people want apartments, and then there’s everything in between.

‘It comes down to do you want the government to do it or do you want the private sector to do it? It’s a very different rationale and strategy.

‘I’ve seen and listened for many years to different people trying to do something [on the site], and personally, as long as there’s progress I think it’s good.’

He added: ‘I think if you had 10 people putting forward anything, that’s a start, instead of one person saying that’s what it is. The main thing for me is they have to take people along with the journey.

‘Somebody can’t just stand up and say we’re going to redevelop the Summerland site, that’s the wrong approach, you should say we’re going to get it started and get 10 people together and pick something in the middle, and then they can go to the next stage.

‘Everybody worries about getting everything done and then nothing ends up getting done.’

Roy and Linda Howland think the site, where a fire killed 50 people in 1973, has been derelict for too long.

Mrs Howland, from Onchan, said: ‘The promenade makes Douglas really, and for people coming here the site is just not nice to look at at all.

‘I’d like to see some sort of entertainment again, like an indoor sport complex. We need indoor facilities.

‘It’s been left for so long I think people have just forgotten about that area really, I forget until I drive past it and think I wish something had been done.’

Colin and Mairead Beaumont, from North East Lincolnshire, said they think gardens with a memorial would be appropriate for the site.

Mr Beaumont said: ‘I think it would be nice if there was a green space there and perhaps a water fountain or feature that the children could play in.

‘A memorial of some sort on the site for those that were affected is a must in my mind.

‘Can we have fewer flats please, we have loads of them, we want open spaces!’

James and Keely Cochrane, from Sandygate, believe the current state of the site is a problem.

Mrs Cochrane said: ‘It would be nice for it to be neat and tidier because it’s a bit of an eye sore how it is at the moment.

‘I can’t see any reason why the two [flats and a memorial] can’t be both incorporated on the site, it’s not a small site.’

Mr Cochrane said: ‘They could find a temporary solution, for the next five to 10 years, whilst they come up with something more permanent.’

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