‘Changing vision’ for Undercliff Drive access road leads to need for planning application

Over two years since the landslip and over 19 months since the budget was approved, works to reinstate Undercliff Drive from the west have still not been completed. The new road now has to go through the planning process to gain permission.

The long-running saga of Undercliff Drive continues.

Over two years since the landslips where Island Roads were carrying out geo-technical roadworks on Undercliff Drive took place, residents are still unable to access their homes and business by road.

In September 2014, the Isle of Wight council approved a budget of up to £500,000 on the re-instament of the road from the West. Nineteen months later and the works have still not been completed.

Planning permission needed
It came to light recently that the works to carry out reinstatement of the highway from the Niton approach – allowing vehicle access for residents in the landlocked section of the road – would be subject to planning permission

Cllr Phil Jordan told OnTheWight there is a need for planning permission because,

“The planned route for the new road has been a changing vision over time.”

The Isle of Wight council have confirmed the planning application has been submitted and will be advertised for public comments from tomorrow (Friday 29 April) (see planning application).

Cllr Jordan added,

“We are expecting the consent and work to start early June and we have told Island Roads that the entire works must be finished by September. They appear confident with that timescale.”

Road being moved inland
The current road, part of which was re-patched by Islanders in October 2014, will be removed and realigned slightly further inland.

In order to accommodate this, Natural England gave permission for tree felling on the land – most of it currently owned by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust – but due to be transferred to the Isle of Wight council in a land swap.

As can be seen in photos provided by Gary Smedmore of the Undercliff Drive caravan park in March, several trees were felled to make way for the new road.

Felled trees on Undercliff Drive
Trees being felled on Undercliff Drive
Undercliff Drive - Digger on the road

Thursday, 28th April, 2016 2:13pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2ebb

Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Niton, South Wight, St Lawrence, Top story, Ventnor

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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45 Comments on "‘Changing vision’ for Undercliff Drive access road leads to need for planning application"

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Philip Hawkins
The moving inland of the road is sensible, and gives a few more years before it falls to the same fate, but removal of the existing road seems a bad idea – any disturbance near the edge of the slip will only speed up the process. For those not in the picture, the slip this side of the caravan park is active and only temporarily stopped. It… Read more »
Pauline Lincoln

But the residents patched it with asbestos. That can’t be left.

billy builder
Philip, Any slip in cohesive soil will tend to move either due to the water-logging of the soil changing the cohesive nature of the soil mass, or by changing the balance relationship between the top and toe of the slip. In this particular instance the house and any/all roadworks sit at the top of the slip, and the toe is out to sea beyond the tide-line. The… Read more »
Philip Hawkins
Thank you for that BB. I would add to them thus (and I wish I could change the font to make your comments and my replies more distinguishable):- Any slip in cohesive soil will tend to move either due to the water-logging of the soil changing the cohesive nature of the soil mass, or by changing the balance relationship between the top and toe of the slip.… Read more »

Did Mr Smedmore get/need permission for his road? Some of Asbestos Avenue was put on land that was not previously road so surely consent was needed? I’m curious.


Phil Jordan – “We are expecting the consent and work to start early June and we have told Island Roads that the entire works must be finished by September. They appear confident with that timescale.”

Is this the same Island Roads that ‘felt confident’ they wouldn’t mess it up the first time?

phil jordan

We are determined to have this work done by September and Island Roads are aware of that….

No concerns have been raised about the timescales…..

phil jordan
Steve Goodman: The reality between what the contract ‘actually’ says, and includes, is somewhat different to the rhetoric from the previous administration who tried to sell this as the ‘all singing, all dancing’ highways contract…. I am now in year two of trying to sort out and resolve the mess that the actual contract arrangement has delivered us. It is difficult, confusing, complicated, contentious and has been… Read more »
Steve Goodman

We know Phil’s right about that; the history will not change, and the lessons should not be forgotten.


Castigating Island Roads all the time does not help things. They did a good job at Arreton and completed their work here well ahead of schedule.

Steve Goodman
It’s certainly the same Island Roads that told us before the contract was signed that they would sort out Undercliff Drive once and for all, and without charging us any extra. (No apologies for the repetition): We were assured repeatedly by the likes of Eddie, Jay, Stuart, & their gang on behalf of the local & national politicians keen to move more taxpayer’s money into private pockets… Read more »
Old Knobby

Is it possible to get through there on foot nowadays? Not officially, presumably.

phil jordan

Old Knobby:

it’s not but that through pathway is part of the overall scheme that must be completed by September…..


Phil J – so did Asbestos Alley not technically require planning permission too?

It struck me as odd that no one seemed to be particularly concerned that material containing asbestos was used. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that no one at the council was bothered that it contravened planning as well.

phil jordan


the road was built without any consents ..which make it illegal in the broad sense.

However, since the road was built on the existing road (footprint) that aspect (assuming all other aspects were in order) would NOT have required planning consent.

Planning consent is only required for *new* roads …not repairs to existing roads.

Thanks Phil. I thought some of the asbestos road was built on English Nature’s (or some other conservation body’s) land which was in effect new land. I may be wrong though. And why was no one ever prosecuted over the asbestos contamination issue? If, as we were told at the time, the rubble was supplied by an Island merchant, then who knows where else this contaminated stuff… Read more »

Is there any response on the above question?

phil jordan
Tyke: It fell to the Environment Agency to investigate… which they did. We were informed by them that they did not intend to prosecute in this instance. You are correct about the ‘spill’ of the material used which fell onto third party land. That land was not owned by the Council. There is no connection between a road ( I hesitate to call it a road under… Read more »
Looking at the planning application TCP/32614, P/00405/16 Section 14 – Existing Use. -Does the proposal involve any of the following? If yes, you will need to submit an appropriate contamination assessment with your application. -Land which is known to be contaminated ‘NO’. -Land where contamination is suspected for all or part of the site…’NO’. It has previously been identified that asbestos is present. The fact that the… Read more »
phil jordan


perhaps a letter to the Environment Agency might elicit a response on their approach ?

They have the duty over such matters as ‘toxic waste and materials’.

retired hack
We do need to know why these questions have been answered “no”. Could it possibly be that the presence of asbestos, asserted by (paid) officers of the IWC after the unauthorised road wasd built, has been found, on closer analysis, not to actually be the case? By the way, the planning app does throw some light on the removal of trees, pictured with this report. Included in… Read more »
phil jordan
retired hack: Actually, the service provider ‘discovered’ the contents of the materials used…. not the Council. They reported that finding to the Council. Planning is not required for repairs to an existing road…. from that it follows that the planning is for a new road which is not a repair of the existing road (including illegal materials deposited there). It follows that questions about what the *site*… Read more »
retired hack
Phil: back to the asbestos. OK, the service provider discovered the contents of the materials used and reported that finding to the Council. The Council then put a Press release on its website (26/8/15, it’s still there) saying “asbestos has been found within the rubble core of the access road constructed by residents of Undercliff Drive”. The same situation was reported to the Executive on 15/9/15, with… Read more »
phil jordan
retired Hack: I have not spoken with service provider today but I suspect they consider the exact dimension and parameter of the new road to be that which is regarded as the *site*. As it is a new road, it does not follow the route of the ‘old’ road where the contaminated materials now lie and therefore, if one takes this view of the *site*, then there… Read more »
retired hack

Thanks Phil, yes it does clarify. It does mean, though, does it not, that supposedly contaminated material is still lying around not being dealt with (even if it’s not going to hinder the new road)? Is that a satisfactory position?

phil jordan

retired hack:

It is still within the road material yes. I am not aware it is ‘exposed’ to the air, however.

The general public have no current access to this road and there are definite plans to remove it after works are complete and before public access is allowed.

phil jordan
buckle: the planning officer will determine what is required correctly and as part of the process. There is a contradiction in terms here…. If the proposed road was part of the old road it would not need planning permission. The fact that it is a *new* road sited away from the existing road (in part) means it does need planning permission… and by ‘close definition’ is not… Read more »
I see no contradiction? Planning allows for repair of existing builds, under specified conditions, whether that be a road or a house. However the requirements for acquiring planning permission for road realignments and activities which fall outside permissible repair works are clear. There is nothing confusing or contradictory in this distinction. If a contamination risk has been identified by the applicant in the area indicated within the… Read more »
phil jordan
buckle: One final time…. the contradiction is that planning would not be required if it were NOT a new road. As it is a new road then planning is required. You appear to be making a decision about where you believe the site extends to. The planning officers will do that. However, the applicant believes (I suspect) the site is no more than the parameter of the… Read more »
Thanks again for your response Phil. I think you do your office great credit by engaging with the public in this way. It just seems very odd that a road was ‘built’ without consent, without planning permission and with carcinogenic material yet no one has been held to account. Wouldn’t you agree that is a very odd and unsatisfactory situation? I really think it sends out rather… Read more »

Carrying out works without the correct assents in place, without planning permission in place prior to the commencement of works ……..failings indeed.

Phil re your post of 12.29. With the greatest of respect, shouldn’t it be down to the IWC – which has a public protection role, does it not? – to chase the EA? I am sure the local authority will be better placed to bring pressure to bear, should it wish, than a mere IW resident. Given that a known carcinogen was dumped in this way (sorry… Read more »
phil jordan
tyke: The IWC have no jurisdiction over the EA. We have protected the public from accessing the area and the material will be removed before access is re-instated. As I said before, I am not going to relate publically the enforcement work we do on a wide range of issues and matters which we often undertake with other agencies. My concerns at this point are to re-instate… Read more »
retired hack

Tyke: You, of course, have proof that “a known carciogenic was dumped in this way”…???
For my part I’m trying to gather some evidence from which conclusions may be able to be drawn. I’ve been doing it for years.

Retired Hack: The Council’s website says: “As has been stated recently, laboratory results have confirmed the presence of asbestos at Undercliff Drive. The asbestos has been found within the rubble core of the access road constructed by residents of Undercliff Drive. “The asbestos was found within a ground investigation trial hole at a depth of 0.6m and again at 1.0m.” Phil, who seems to have detailed knowledge… Read more »
John Nash
Phil Jordan, The published planning application, as it stands, is invalid and breaks every rule in the book, as follows: 1. It has been advertised under the incorrect parish i.e Niton and Whitwell. 2. It has no plan showing the “red line” application site boundary. 3. Apart from the tick box Application Form, there is no written statement containing any kind of detail for the application. 4.… Read more »
Philip Hawkins

The phrase about ‘P***-up’ and ‘brewery’ comes to mind, but this whole thing seems symptomatic – if you can’t get the detail right, what hope is there?

Of course, you could say that IR don’t give a toss for IWC and the planning dept . . .

Couldn’t agree more John. It is extremely worrying that the applicant’s submission is so vague and inconsistent. It is even more worrying that the application has made it to the website, given the errors, and is open for comments. Are applications not checked before they are uploaded? There should be an initial validation to ensure that the documents are complete and not contradictory such as one page… Read more »

Can I just add, I hope those tree stumps haven’t been left like that, not the way to leave a stump after felling!

Darren Irving

Yeah nasty looking stumps, a health and safety nightmare!

retired hack

You see stumps. I look at the bigger picture. I see firewood.

As a grockle who stays on the Island many times each year, perhaps I am not qualified to comment but I have also met some of the residents affected by this awful slip and really sympathise with them. I saw a video about the road in 2014 and now and of course there is sadly little difference or improvement. I note the comments regarding the “illegal” road… Read more »

If there is the will to make good situations like this, then solutions can be found in a timely manner…


billy builder

DaveIOW, Unfortunately the type of landslip and the cause of the slip are radically different. The Cumbria slip required a fairly simple retaining wall to fix the issue. Whereas undercliff would require q0’s millions of pounds of heavy civil engineering.

One might think that building a retaining wall to stop scree slides from a mountain might be more expensive than building one to stop soil/mud slides from a hill. The Highways Authority work in Cumbria work was “Highways England are repairing the collapsed section near Dunmail Raise and also carrying out repairs alongside the reservoir, including some culvert renewals and resurfacing. The shuttle bus between Keswick and… Read more »