Councillor resigns from planning committee following decision on huge retail and leisure complex (updated)

Following the vote, Cllr Jones-Evans resigned from the planning committee

artists impression of st georges park development

Controversial plans for a huge new retail and leisure complex at St George’s Park, Newport, have been approved — despite impassioned pleas for the application to be thrown out and the resignation of one councillor.

The development, which had been recommended for approval by planning officers, was given the green light at tonight’s (Tuesday) meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s planning committee.

Vote through by five members
Five members voted in favour of the plans, two voted against and two abstained.

Ward councillor for Newport Central, Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, was one of those who spoke against the out-of-town retail park. By approving it, she said the council had shown it did not care about the high street.

She said:

“This is an abomination, it is against our regeneration policy. Our high streets are dying. We want to regenerate our town centre.

“I dispute the findings totally. We need to put the heart and life and soul back into Newport.”

Following the vote, Cllr Jones-Evans resigned from the planning committee.

Big names rumoured for the development, submitted by South Coast Leisure (SCL) in November, 2018, include a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant, Aldi and Wickes, with 289 parking spaces.

SCL said the scheme would create 200 jobs.

‘Detrimental to the viability’ of Newport High Street
Newport and Carisbrooke Parish Council, which has strongly objected to the retails park, said it would be ‘detrimental to the viability’ of Newport High Street.

A representative from Asda, which has a store next to the site, said the supermarket was not afraid of competition but argued the plans presented to the committee were ‘fundamentally different’ from those originally submitted.

Officer: Won’t have significant impact on town
Planning team leader at the council dismissed claims the new retail complex would have a significant impact on the town centre.

She said impact assessments had been carried out, showing it would only have a four per cent impact.

Cllr Shirley Smart, representative of Newport South, argued against the need for the development. She said:

“If we agree this tonight, how much more will go from Newport High Street?”

Brodie: Safe, lit footway must be improved
Cllr Geoff Brodie, ward councillor for Newport East, said the development would damage the town centre and wanted to limit the times of building works.

He said:

“A safe, lit footway along Pan Lane must be in place before any work happens on the site.

“The football club has been moved from their home and I ask that the new stadium is built and ready for use before the building work starts.”

The football ground, home to Newport FC, will be demolished to make way for the development, and the club relocated to a new stadium — sponsored by WightFibre and called WightFibre Park. The new ground will be built on land off the Racecourse roundabout in Whippingham.

Price: “It is an eyesore”
Cllr Matthew Price, ward councillor Newport North, said he ‘didn’t know where to start’ when talking about the development. He highlighted the need for Newport FC to have a home, but ultimately abstained from the vote.

He said:

“The danger with this is talking about the relationship with the developer. I believe we want SCL to do this. Let’s say the site was sold, we need to make sure all of that is water tight at this point.

“We have enough building sites on this Island, we must make sure this does not happen with the site. It is an eyesore, a blight to those coming into Newport.”

28 conditions
More than 28 conditions have been attached to the planning permission.

They include a condition that the three retail warehouses only sell certain types of products — one with a garden centre cannot sell clothes and shoes, for example, and the others cannot sell food. Building work will have to start within three years.

Article edit
12:08 – Cllr Brodie’s comment amended to include Pan Lane and removed ‘improved’

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10 Comments on "Councillor resigns from planning committee following decision on huge retail and leisure complex (updated)"

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As if we needed more reason to hold certain Councillors in contempt (none of them from Newport wards I note). Are the names of the planning department officials who recommended approval also a matter of public record? I’d be interested to know who they are.

Sally Perry

We were informed many years ago by the press office that only senior level officers can be named in news reports.

Geoff Brodie

Planning Officer reports are currently in the name of the ‘Strategic Manager for Planning & Infrastructure’. I believe this grandly-titled person is a fourth level officer. He is ultimately responsible to the very senior Director of Regeneration, Mr Chris Ashman. There was not much evidence of an IW Council committment to regeneration last night……

Benny C
This decision lets down every single business owner, landlord , employee and supplier invested in Newport retail. It adds risk unnecessarily to an already delicate economy, which the Council should be nurturing, not torturing. It’s infrastructure is already there, it needs no new carbon producing construction and it requires no more amenity land to be swallowed up by tarmac. In essence Newport is paying the long term… Read more »

Ah, right, so that’s why we had such a large uneccessary roundabout built. I wonder if someone will get the signage and lane markings right this time? Given the still conflicting and poor lane designations I can’t imagine so.

‘Big names rumoured for the development, submitted by South Coast Leisure (SCL) in November, 2018, include a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant, Aldi and Wickes, with 289 parking spaces. SCL said the scheme would create 200 jobs.’ But how many jobs would this destroy? We really do not need another McDonald’s drive-through ‘restaurant’ and 289 spaces for cars. Haven’t councillors heard there’s a climate emergency? And what do we… Read more »
Benny C
Ian Ward, cabinet member for infrastructure thinks there is not necessarily a climate emergency and ‘evidence led’ weak leader Dave Stewart isn’t convinced either. He needs to see the evidence. He said so. Maybe they haven’t read the overwhelming evidence pointing to how we need to reappraise impacts of decision making, just as you allude to. Then again, it seems maybe they don’t read that much at… Read more »

I know Cllr Jones-Evans was making a point by resigning, but it sounds as though we need more people like her on the planning committee. This just paves the way for more ill-advised decisions.

Again, And consistently, completely ignoring the expressed will of those objections made, whether for this ‘development’ or any other, such as the not needed, by the Island Community, patently superfluous, new housing plans, or the St Mary’s Roundabout, is surely enough evidence that the Island Planning Department is NOT working on behalf of the Island and its People or Business Community. The question why this is so… Read more »

Yet another appalling planning decision for the Island!
How much are the IOW Council being paid by South Coast Leisure to ruin our Newport Street?
Probably millions is the answer because it seems all that matters is money.
While we are on the subject of money….what happened to the millions paid by Asda to the IOW Council….disappeared without a trace!