Douglas Development Partnership (DDP) is to close, following the conclusion of its successful mission to bring together the government, Douglas Borough Council and the Chamber of Commerce to identify, implement and advance Douglas town centre regeneration.
The move and the success of the work achieved during the 15-year life of the DDP reflect the widening remit of local regeneration committees to drive not only physical improvements but also economic growth.
Although the DDP in its present form will cease to operate, its Town Centre Management function will continue operating as part of the Regeneration Service of the Council’s new Environment and Regeneration Department.
Development Manager Chris Pycroft said: ‘This is more about evolution than dissolution. Closing the DDP is but part of a long-term process to achieve a high quality image and environment in the capital and a robust and sustainable local economy.
‘The Douglas of 2015 is a very different town from when DDP was formed in 2000. While there’s still much work to be done, what we have achieved, apart from the obvious physical improvements to the town centre, is to have built productive links between government, Council and the business community with all parties now represented on the Douglas Regeneration Committee and who now share a common aspiration to work together on future projects, such as the further development and implementation of the Central Douglas Masterplan.
‘There is the physical legacy of DDP in that it was very much the architect in reviving the fortunes of the North Quay, now a major entertainment and leisure destination, and lobbied government for a cohesive town centre regeneration strategy.
‘But there is also the cultural legacy in that the DDP has driven schemes to introduce a vibrancy to the town centre through commissioning street entertainers and organising year-round events such as the Douglas Carnival, Tower of Refuge Walk and continental food fairs.’
Referring to the DDP having established strong links with local businesses, Mr Pycroft said: ‘The support and encouragement shown by our corporate members – all like-minded organisations committed, like the DDP, to shaping the town’s future – has been invaluable. Over the years we have listened and sought to respond to issues that matter to retailers and to the wider community. One such issue is car parking, which recently led to Douglas Borough Council trialling a new fee structure for Chester Street car park, with “free after three” parking Monday to Fridays and a flat-rate £2 charge on Saturdays.’
Mr Pycroft also paid tribute to Peter Farrant who served as the DDP’s first chairman and his successor Hamish Ross. ‘Their experience, wise counsel and respected standing in the business community brought a direction and guidance to the DDP that help shape its sense of purpose and contributed enormously to its success.
‘In summary, our work will continue in a new and reinvigorated format but driven by the same determined sense of purpose. The intelligence gained by DDP over the years in areas such as encouraging investment, boosting footfall, marketing, event promotion – even public art – will be central to supporting the local regeneration committee’s expanded remit and shaping the economic development of Douglas.’
Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP said: ‘The DDP has proved instrumental in driving change through town centre regeneration and laid the foundations for the future. As with the Council, it has long recognised the importance of growing the local economy by partnering with business and working towards a common goal. That goal is set to become all the more achievable through the Council’s new Environment and Regeneration Department.
‘The Council and DDP have been swift to adapt to new economic realities. This re-energised format for the local regeneration committee will help to realise the vision for a better Douglas, a Douglas that means business.’