Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK today (15 September 2014) met with transport enthusiasts to discuss details of plans to refurbish and redevelop Douglas Station.
Minister Gawne explained:
‘The railway station was erected around 1890 and put on the Protected Buildings Register in 1984. Although it was not deemed to be a good example of such a Victorian structure it was accepted that it was valued by the public. However, the building has suffered from a lack of investment over many years now. My Department is proposing to rectify that with a £1.4million scheme to carry out repairs to preserve the integrity of the original exterior but transform the interior to provide improved facilities for passengers, access for the disabled and a better commercial focus to ensure the station’s future.’
The plans seek to optimise use of the building by moving the restaurant and café to a first floor mezzanine with new integral toilet facilities. Lift access and a new staircase would be constructed in the existing tower while a new al fresco dining area with a glass canopy sympathetic to the style of the building is proposed for the rear to provide additional seating for café patrons and a sheltered waiting area for passengers. Removing the existing kitchen and mezzanine area of the restaurant would open up previously blocked up windows and restore the original open character of the space, the application states.
The interior of the building’s ground floor would also be revamped without compromising original parts of the structure. As well as refurbishing the ticket office and staff facilities, the plans include provision of a new retail space.
Refurbishment of the building includes utilising the currently unusable loft space, re-pointing brickwork and replacing or reinstating windows and doors. The application makes clear the proposals would have a ‘minimal and positive overall effect’.
The works would also see repairs made to the structure and mechanism of the clock tower, where subsidence has caused the clock to stop working, and a smartening up of the steps and external areas.
Minister Gawne added:
‘Refurbishment of Douglas Railway Station is long overdue. In the current climate it is not enough just to patch up what is there but to maximise the return for both taxpayers and passengers while maintaining our heritage. That is what this scheme aims to deliver, however, I am keen to listen to all opinions and will amend the scheme where appropriate. Today’s discussion with representatives of some of our heritage railway’s support groups has been very informative and I will do my best to accommodate the views expressed to me. I also look forward to meeting the representatives again next week for further discussion.’
Prior to any work commencing, plans would require Council of Ministers’ planning consent because it is a Department application. Also whatever plan the Department decides to go forward with will need full Tynwald support.
Full details of the proposals can be viewed at Planning online and searching for planning application 14/00891/GB.