The team spearheading a project to rejuvenate one of the Isle of Man’s main retail areas has today (Friday 5 December) collected a prestigious award in London.
The regeneration of Douglas town centre won the landscaping category of the Natural Stone Awards 2014, with the scheme described by judges as ‘uplifting’ and ‘exemplary’.
Business guru Lord Digby Jones presented the award to members of the Island partnership involved in enhancing some of the capital’s busiest shopping streets and pedestrian links.
The ceremony took place at the Hotel Russell in London and showcased a number of cutting-edge design projects from around the British Isles.
The Isle of Man’s winning entry was submitted by landscape architect Andy Thomson of BCA Landscape. It focused on phases one and two of the Douglas regeneration scheme – incorporating Nelson Street, Wellington Street and Regent Street – delivered by staff from the Department of Infrastructure.
The Natural Stone Awards, held once every two years, recognise excellence in the natural stone industry. The judges praised the use of the Archibald Knox-inspired paving, street furniture and artwork that has helped to transform previously drab streets into modern, vibrant retail areas.
The judges said:
‘The stonework brings brightness and light into the heart of the Island’s capital. The results are already lifting and enhancing the area, instilling pride and commitment across a diverse range of retailers where associated grant-aided property upgrades are now also evident. These initial phases are an undoubted success in moving towards the Island’s stated objective that aspires to link regenerated towns to potential growth in the Manx economy.’
‘The overall project design has unified the various street footprints and maximises the town’s layout to take full advantage of sunlight. From its integrated original concept to its careful specifying and precision installation, this is an exemplary scheme.’
Recognition by the Stone Foundation is reward for the success of the collaborative approach driving our Town and Village Regeneration Scheme, which aims to breathe fresh life into the Island’s commercial centres. The partnership in place for the Douglas project, included:
- BCA Landscape – landscape architect
- Cabinet Office – regeneration
- Department of Infrastructure – engineering and implementation
- Burroughs Stewart Associates – project manager
- Hardscape – stone supplier
- Douglas Development Partnership – town centre management
- Douglas Borough Council – electrical and maintenance
- Smiling Wolf – Co-designers of A-Y of Manx artwork, with BCA Landscape
- Berrie, Millar & Cox – cost consultant
- Safety Net Ltd (PSI) – planning supervisor
Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK attended the awards ceremony in his capacity as Chairman of the Regeneration Steering Group.
Mr Bell said:
‘I’d like to add my congratulations to everyone involved in this project. The Douglas regeneration scheme is a good example of Government working with local authorities and the private sector to deliver high-quality infrastructure that supports economic growth. Investing in our towns and villages is absolutely key to promoting the Isle of Man as an attractive place to live and visit. We are working to create clean, bright, dynamic retail environments that reflect the Island’s status as a successful international business centre.’
David Cretney MHK, Chairman of the Douglas Regeneration Committee, added:
‘Parts of the town centre previously had a tired, dreary appearance that did little to inspire. The improvements to the paving, street furniture and lighting have transformed the town centre. I hope that visitors will see Douglas as a warm and welcoming place, while residents will feel proud of their capital. The Natural Stone award demonstrates the Island’s ability to compete with the very best that the British Isles have to offer.’