The Department of Infrastructure has confirmed its intention to progress its proposals for the redevelopment of Douglas Promenade, despite the announcement that Douglas Borough Council is ending its horse tram service.
Subject to planning approval and support from Tynwald, work will start later this year to reconstruct the failing highway and carry out improvements to the footways, drainage, junctions and pedestrian crossings. However, the Department would not seek to lay the horse tram tacks at this time in light of the Council’s decision. The proposed refurbishment would still include space for a single track on the walkway if the horse trams were to return in the future.
A public inquiry was held in November into the Department’s planning application for Douglas Promenade and an independent inspector is expected to present his report to the Council of Ministers in February.
Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK said:
‘The Department has a close and positive relationship with Douglas Borough Council and we have been working together on the Promenade plans to deliver the best option for the capital and for the Isle of Man in general. Government and local authorities are experiencing severe financial pressures and the Council has obviously decided that it cannot ask ratepayers to continue funding the loss-making horse tram service. There are no plans at this stage for the Government to take over the running of the horse trams, although I have called a meeting of relevant Government Departments and agencies to consider the implications of this loss and what, if any, response Government should make.’
‘The Council’s announcement will not affect the Department’s aspirations for the Promenade and we intend to progress our current proposals, subject to the necessary approvals being granted. We would not lay the tram track, but the rest of the scheme would go ahead, with the focus on much-needed improvements to the highway and the creation of a Cultural Quarter. It has always been our desire to progress a design that will attract people, support the economy and act as a catalyst for future regeneration.’