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Council to take action over Villiers Square site

Douglas Borough Council has served a further Notice on the owners of Villiers Square requiring them to bring the site into good order within 21 days.


The move follows debate during the Council’s public meeting on Wednesday June 13 when Members expressed their frustration over protracted and, to date, unsuccessful negotiations with the beneficial owners, Friends Aellas Limited of Dorking in Surrey, requiring them to take responsibility for maintaining the site deemed, under the terms of the Notice, to be ‘detrimental to the amenities of the neighbourhood’.


The Leader of the Council, Councillor David Christian MBE JP said: ‘Serving this 21-day Notice indicates Members’ level of anger and frustration over a site in the heart of Douglas that is neglected and steadily deteriorating over more than 20 years. Failure to comply with this Notice will see the Council send in a taskforce to undertake the work then seek to recover the costs from the owners.


‘Let me make this perfectly clear. Douglas Borough Council may be the custodians of the capital but it is not responsible for the management of Villiers Square. The summer is upon us and the Villiers site, the condition of which generates the most complaints from the general public, is highly visible to visitors at what is a major gateway to Douglas. It is unsightly and a potential health hazard and also compromises the whole area at a time when the Council and its partners in government are investing heavily in a scheme to upgrade Douglas promenade.


‘And while the Villiers site is a major culprit in this matter, there are many other properties in Regent Street and Strand Street where the rear areas are neglected and litter-strewn, which our enforcement officers will be closely monitoring.


‘In short, Members are at the end of their tether over the Villiers Square issue. In serving this Notice the Council isn’t just requiring that the site be tidied up. This is not a cosmetic exercise. The Notice requires the owners to replace and make good all the missing and damaged timber hoardings then paint them; fit mesh screens or similar to cover the cut openings in the hoardings to obscure the derelict ground; and to clear the whole area of weeds and other vegetation.


‘The site is being offered for sale, but in its present condition represents a far from appealing investment opportunity. Should Villiers Square secure a purchaser, though, it is a site with the potential to serve as a shop window to the Isle of Man. For now, however, it is a depressing and dispiriting space that is detrimental to the surrounding businesses and a blight on the whole town.


‘I would add that it’s all very well the Island being hailed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, namely a special place to live, work and visit. This is a status, though, that’s being severely compromised by irresponsible owners across the Island who allow their properties to fall into dilapidation. For the Borough of Douglas, however, the time has come to take decisive action.’