Isle of Man, Premier Construction

Transforming Douglas & Clarendon

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The construction and refurbishment of a mixed use development, known as The Douglas and Clarendon Scheme, is progressing well and is due to complete in July 2014.

The building, situated in Douglas on the Isle of Man, previously housed two public houses, accommodation above both public houses, a farmers retail outlet and storage facilities on the upper floors.

The public house on the far side of the development has been retained, due to its registered status, and the other two units of the property have been demolished. The completed multi-use property will comprise a retail outlet, a public house and office space on the upper floors.

Works began on site in November 2012 and in the early staging of the construction process the registered section of the building had to be structurally secured before other works could be undertaken. As the building is so old the onsite team, which comprised O’Hare and McGovern building contractors, architects Savage & Chadwick and Heron & Brearley, encountered an array of challenges at the outset of the project. They had to carry out more stabilisation and repair works than they first anticipated and as a consequence this delayed the construction programme considerably.

The structural engineering works were therefore also particularly challenging as the engineer had to devise solutions to ensure that the site was properly secured and ready for refurbishment. After the registered property had been fully secured the team were able to move forward and demolish the two adjacent buildings and build a new steel frame building on the footprint of the previous two.

The building, the old structure and adjoining new steel frame, is now completely weathertight and has been first fixed internally. The second fixing process has commenced and so the team are well underway to meet their deadline of completion by July this year.

Premier Construction caught up with Brett Woods, a development consultant from Heron & Brearly, to find out more about the nature of the project:

We tried to retain as many of the original features of the building as we could because the interior is registered as well as the exterior. We kept the original staircase, floors, roof timber and walling; the team therefore ensure all the components that are architecturally or historically important to the build were retained.”

The site has a very long history and was initially built in 1759 as a private house and has gone through a variety of uses over the century. The new part of the development is very modern and offers all the facilities’ that a modern office is expected to have. The team have fit out all of the offices with suspended ceilings and raised service floors, as well as completing all the walls ready for the tenants to decorate them with their own colour scheme. The newly built office space will span three floors; the second and third floors are pre-let and the first floor is just about to be let.

The multi-use development is situated in a prime location in Douglas, at the harbour side, and has an array of local facilities in 100 metres. The city’s main shopping centre and business district are but a stone’s throw away from the site.

Brett Woods, from Heron & Brearley, was involved with the project to bring the programme forward in conjunction with the design team to a point at planning permission and building regulation approval could be obtained. He has also been involved in obtaining interest from would-be tenants for the premises.

He added:

My role was to enable the development to proceed and it has been very rewarding to see a very important building from a local social history perspective be rejuvenated and given a chance to live its life again. It has also been exciting to make the site into a very modern office and retail development.”

The Village Workshop, have been in operation for 30 years, and played an integral role in the restoration of the Listed section of the structure. The firm supplied timbers to restore the existing historical Georgian staircase and also undertook produced and repaired other bespoke items throughout the project in order to ensure the venue retained its historical feel.

Chris Ward from The Village Workshop said:

It is important for us to be involved as this is what we do; we carry out full house fit outs. If clients have a modern house and they want to install bespoke or historical features then we can do it.”

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