Douglas Quay deserves better than this
Douglas Quay deserves better than this

Back in February, I worked to share proposals to rejuvenate North Quay by the Manx company, Kelproperties. A copy of the media release from the time is reproduced below.

Since that time, the planners have failed to even give the proposals a hearing – and thus, a petition has now been launched online here to send a message that our community wants to see an upgrade and investment in dilapidated brownfield sites such as the old Newsons building. You can see and sign the petition online now at

It has only just been launched, but already, dozens of local residents have signed it. 

Other jurisdictions are taking initiative to ensure that their planning processes are efficient, and ensure a fair hearing for all parties. In the US, one state has introduced new rules that say “When a builder or property owner submits an application to build a new home, cities and counties have 30 business days to process it or request corrections.”


Manx residents and visitors to the Isle of Man will benefit from a celebration of Manx hospitality and urban renewal under plans to rejuvenate a major part of North Quay. Located at 22-28 North Quay, Douglas, the development is centred around a responsible redevelopment of the site known as the former Newson’s buildings and others including Merchant’s House. The proposed development will be called “Merchants Place”.

Merchants Place will be a modern development that honours local heritage while rejuvenating and enhancing the brownfield site.

Ground floor: Bars and restaurants to integrate with North Quay and easy pedestrian access

The heritage-led scheme will feature a celebration of local food and produce with the construction of three new ground-floor bar/restaurant units. This will honour the entertainment heritage of the area and enhance North Quay’s food and drink offering by constructing extensive external seating for the summer months. Under the proposal, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy quayside food and drinks along North Quay – weather permitting!

The development site is located at the very centre of the North Quay, known locally as the Barbary Coast due to its rich and varied history as an area densely populated with many and varied public houses. This proposal reconnects the gap between venues such as Seven Kingdoms, the Railway Hotel and 14 North to the west with Little Fish Cafe, the British Hotel and Barbary Coast to the east – restoring the line of leisure outlets that gave the Barbary Coast its name.

Upper floors: Low carbon living inside, traditional Manx stone outside

On the upper floors, ten environmentally sensitive apartments overlooking Douglas Marina are proposed. Built to high-quality modern standards, these apartments will bring new life to the quay, replacing buildings that have fallen derelict and empty.

Each apartment will be built to modern low-carbon standards and modern insulation, but feature external facades with traditional Manx stone out of respect for traditional appearances.

At the centre of the development is Merchants House, an historic and proud building that gives the development its name. There are no buildings proposed to be taller than Merchant’s House within the development and its imposing façade is untouched.

The replacement upgraded buildings are designed to respect the style, form, and materials that currently exist on this area of the quayside. The architectural rhythm and variety of the North Quay is retained by the proposed development, whilst at the same time enhancing buildings to ensure that all residents of Douglas and beyond can be proud of it. This enhancement will ensure that the area has a viable use for many years to come.

This development will complement many years of significant infrastructure investment on the Douglas Marina and the improved pedestrian-centred nature of North Quay by the Isle of Man Government and Douglas Borough Council. It will reinforce the North Quay as a destination venue for local people and visitors alike, as well as a very attractive area for living.

Subject to planning consent, Merchants Place construction is planned to commence later this year and is expected to complete by mid-2024.

About Kelman Limited: Kelman Limited is a Manx-owned business, part of a group of companies with a strong track record of investing in development in urban centres in the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom. More information is available online at

28 July update: Corrected “planning committee” to “planners” in the second paragraph.

Michael Josem is a long-term consumer advocate, most prominently as a global leader in combating fraud in the online gambling industry. He was in part the inspiration for the 20th Century Fox Movie, Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Josem has over a decade of experience as a senior business leader working across various high-tech and online industries, and takes action to build a better community. His primary volunteer roles include service for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Graih, the homelessness charity.