Castletown will see a number of subtle enhancements in appearance throughout the town when the Island-wide regeneration scheme comes to the town shortly.
Numerous different ideas are under discussion between architects, planners, politicians and local people including high quality paving, new public seatings and specialised low energy lighting systems.
The ideas are all part of the government’s regeneration project designed to enhance the ambience of the former Manx capital and to offer improved signage to encourage more economic activity and to attract more visitors to the town to access the various heritage features.
“Lots of different suggestions are being considered at the moment, but nothing has so far been completely finalised,” said project manager, architect Hugh Logan who runs a business from the town. “All sections of the local community are being consulted, and there are sufficient very good ideas on the table which will be very positive for Castletown.”
The main focus of attention is on Castletown Square which remains one of the most unspoiled town centre squares in the Isle of Man, featuring a number of classic buildings going back as far as the 18th century, alongside one of the best preserved medieval castles in the world.
Designers have studied a number of options as part of the regeneration project and given careful consideration to creating a positive impact, whilst ensuring that any changes do not affect the unique history or the exceptional visual quality of the town and square.
The many pedestrians who already use the square have been given greatest priority. Therefore, one of the main features of the new-look Castletown Square will be increased areas in the square for seating, aided in the evenings by specialised lighting.
The low energy lighting, which is being supplied by local experts Luminaires, will replace the existing glare of sodium lights and emphasise the quality of the new features in the regeneration programme, particularly on pavements and seating.
Low energy spotlights will also be used extensively, including a new colour system which will highlight the dramatic features of Castle Rushen itself.
Lighting and new paving, using a material almost identical to the traditional grey limestone, will also be used in the side lanes leading to the square, chiefly in the George Hotel Lane which will be the access point for many visitors parking in the spaces at the rear of the square near the fire station.
A date has not yet been fixed for the start of the Castletown regeneration scheme and will be announced when the final details of the scheme have been agreed between all parties involved, under the chairmanship of Castletown MHK Richard Ronan. Two members of the Commissioners and two members of the Castletown Traders’ Association are also on the regeneration committee, along with Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage, and a representative from Castletown Heritage.
Richard Ronan said, “Following my appointment as chairman of Castletown Regeneration Committee, I have been delighted with the progress which has been made. The committee has undergone a bit of the shake up with two new appointees from Castletown Commissioners, and I am delighted to announce the appointment of a member from Castletown Heritage.
“I would, though, like to put on record my appreciation to the outgoing chairman Tony Brown, and retiring members from the Commissioners Mr Collister and Mr Leather for all the good work they have done over the past three years.
“Castletown is the finest setting in the Island, with our beautiful medieval castle dominating every aspect, and it is with this I am determined to make sure we enhance our natural setting and work closely with Manx National Heritage to achieve our aims.
“Castletown must become a destination of choice of locals and visitors alike.”
Graphics of the proposed ideas will go on public display shortly in the Civic Centre. Mr Ronan is encouraging the public to engage with the project with their thoughts and ideas for public art projects which could be featured throughout the town in the future, telling the unique stories of Castletown and its people throughout the years.
“I would hope this project is just the start of towns regeneration enabling growth and prosperity in the years to come.”
Photo caption - An artist's impression of the proposed new look for Market Square in Castletown.