Work to transform Douglas town centre is currently underway and good progress is being made.
The works are part of the regeneration scheme which has already brought significant improvements to Upper and Lower Nelson Street and Wellington Street. The main shopping streets of Douglas have not been upgraded in more than 20 years and their appearance undermines the attraction of the town centre as a visitor destination.
The old surfacing is uneven, the materials are of poor quality and the drainage arrangements are unattractive. High quality stone paving is now being laid which will dramatically improve the look of the area. In addition, more discreet drainage channels are being installed which will compliment the contemporary feel of the transformed high street.
The underground slab is being replaced and service providers are taking the opportunity to replace and upgrade their infrastructure. The regeneration works are taking place at two locations simultaneously, using extended working hours 6 days per week to reduce the construction time of the project. Work is not being undertaken on Saturdays in order to reduce disruption to retailers on traditionally the busiest shopping day of the week.
Hon David Cretney MHK, Chairman of the Douglas Regeneration Committee commented:
‘I am pleased with the progress being made on this important regeneration project. The work being undertaken will bring the retail area of Douglas into the 21st Century and make visiting the capital a much more pleasurable experience. I am conscious that a scheme of this nature brings with it disruption to retailers, businesses and shoppers during what is a very difficult economic period. However the workforce is following a schedule which has been carefully designed to minimise disruption as far as possible, for example by not working on Saturday, the busiest day of the week for shoppers. Of course, the disruption created is a relatively short term impact and once completed the improvements delivered will support the long term vitality of the town centre.’
In order to maximise the benefits of the project, the regeneration scheme is focusing on the streets which have the greatest levels of pedestrian footfall. In addition to the new quality paving being installed, seating will be installed on Regent Street to provide improved facilities for pedestrians.
Regent Street will also have some tree planting which will compliment the hard landscaping to create a vibrant and welcoming public realm. Finishing touches will be added, including signage and information boards, which will improve the accessibility of the town centre. Meanwhile, the Regeneration Scheme is providing financial assistance towards improvements to the exterior of commercial buildings located within the Regeneration Zone.
The benefits of this initiative are starting to show with a number of buildings receiving a facelift with new painting, signage and shop fronts. A bespoke colour palette has been developed called Colours of Mann which brings together coordinating colours inspired by the surroundings. This is being used to highlight architectural details and create a harmonious colour scheme for the shopping streets.