THE physical regeneration of town and village centres across the Isle of Man is continuing to play a vital role in supporting economic growth.
Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK has said that in order to strengthen the Island’s position as a high-quality international business centre, it must have the infrastructure to match.
Government is actively leading and funding a programme of regeneration as part of its drive to breathe fresh life into the Island’s commercial areas.
The aim is to deliver tangible benefits to residents and businesses, create new employment and investment opportunities, and attract more visitors.
A major scheme got underway in Douglas this week to revitalise the main shopping centre, while work is also taking place in Ramsey, Peel, Castletown, Laxey, Port Erin and Port St Mary.
Mr Bell said: ‘I have been critical in the past of the rundown appearance of some of our retail areas as they create a poor impression of the Island as a whole. A good quality environment can give the local community a lift and stimulate fresh investment and jobs. That’s why Government is leading from the front and providing the funding to help local economies to achieve their full potential.’
More than 150 projects have already been supported by the Isle of Man Town and Village Regeneration Scheme, which was established in April 2009 with funding of up to £8 million.
Awards have been approved for a wide range of activities, from minor improvements to individual properties and parades of shops, through to larger scale schemes to create more vibrant commercial centres.
Work has included the painting and repair of shop facades, the installation of windows and canopies, and the provision of new street furniture, paving, public art and lighting.
Projects are co-ordinated by Regional Regeneration Committees – partnerships between Government, local authorities and private enterprise – and influenced by public feedback.
Among the many highlights so far are improvements to Nelson Street and Wellington Street in Douglas, and The Lanes and the area around the old Courthouse in Ramsey.
Other work is in the pipeline across the Isle of Man and a regeneration newsletter has been produced to provide an update on progress achieved so far and plans for future development. The newsletter can be found on the Government website at http://www.gov.im/lib/docs/ded/Regeneration/regenerationnewsletter2013.pdf
The Chief Minister said: ‘Growing the economy is one of our national priorities and investment in the physical appearance of our towns and villages is just one of a wide range of activities aimed at supporting existing businesses and encouraging new investment. Douglas is our main business hub and gateway to the Isle of Man, and I’m pleased that work has started this week on a scheme to rejuvenate part of the main retail zone. However, activity is not just focused on Douglas; regeneration funding is being spread throughout the Island, so communities should start to see signs of improvement in the months ahead.’