The Department of Infrastructure has set out a proposal to progress the redevelopment of Douglas Promenade, with a view to starting work on site in autumn 2017.
Tynwald Members will be asked to endorse a set of design principles that would result in the full reconstruction of the highway and drainage system, the renewal of twin horse tram tacks in the centre of the road between Broadway and Summerhill and the enhancement of the area around the Gaiety Theatre.
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK will present the Douglas Promenade Options Review to the December sitting and call on Members to support the Department’s proposed way forward.
Mr Harmer has made it clear that the Department will not invest any further resources into preparing detailed designs for the Promenade without a clear mandate from Tynwald.
Support for its seven key principles would enable the Department to return to Tynwald early next year to request capital funding for a full redevelopment scheme.
The Options Review explains that after taking into account various planning, financial, construction, parking and design constraints there are only two viable solutions to achieve the reconstruction of the failing highway, while safeguarding the future of the horse trams.
One option is to retain twin tracks in their current location on the northern section of the Promenade; the other to install a single track on the seaward side of the highway.
The Department sets out the advantages and disadvantages of both designs. It concludes that replacing the twin tracks in the centre of the road is the preferred approach as it will not require planning approval and will meet public safety requirements as maintenance of an existing heritage railway.
This option will also reduce the cost of point work and signalling, preserve car parking spaces on the Promenade and support the future operation of modern trams or the Island’s existing fleet of electric trams.
While Tynwald voted in July to retain the horse trams along the full length of the Promenade, the Department says the best way forward would be to operate a shorter route between Summerhill and Broadway. Terminating the tracks near the War Memorial would save approximately £750,000.
The Department’s design principles also reflect the importance of Douglas Promenade to the social and economic wellbeing of the Isle of Man by proposing high quality surfaces and finishes around the Gaiety Theatre.
Minister Harmer said:
‘I hope Members provide a clear direction so that a scheme for the long-awaited reconstruction of Douglas Promenade can be progressed as soon as possible. Without a mandate from Tynwald I cannot justify any more time and money being devoted to proposals that may not be supported.’
‘It is obvious there is no single option that meets the aspirations of the many interest groups – motorists, walkers, joggers, cyclists, visually impaired people, shoppers, tram enthusiasts, hoteliers and retailers. I believe the Department is offering the best solution by pursuing a simple, like-for-like redevelopment on the northern section of the Promenade and a design at the southern end that will improve footpaths, junctions and traffic flow, retain parking and rejuvenate the area around the Gaiety Theatre in line with the Douglas Masterplan.
‘The Department is recommending that the horse trams terminate at the War Memorial as there is no operational or economic benefit in running a tramway the full length of the Promenade.’
The Minister concluded:
‘There is an appetite for decisive action and with the support of Tynwald we can start to make significant progress.’