Over the last week we’ve heard political responses to the Island Conservatives’ plans for the ‘Newport Riverside’ Quarter. Ian Wellby shares this response from Isle of Wight CPRE. Ed
The Isle of Wight CPRE, the countryside charity, has now welcomed the council leadership’s proposal regarding the potential transformation of Newport town centre over the coming years.
CPRE has long argued for a “brownfield first” approach to development, and town centre redevelopment has a major role to play in delivering the sustainable housing we need, whilst protecting our much valued countryside.
CPRE national research suggests there is enough brownfield land for 1.3 million new homes across the UK and over half a million already have planning permission.
Focus on local housing needs
Whilst welcoming the specific proposal, CPRE IOW renews its call for the Isle of Wight council to deliver on its commitment made in September 2019 to challenge nationally-determined housing targets in the next Island plan.
The Island’s current 675 annual housing target is premised on serving a significant migration to the Isle of Wight, rather than focusing on local housing need of those living here.
This target is unprecedented in the history of our Island and would entail the destruction of thousands of acres of Island countryside on a scale which could not be mitigated with brownfield development alone.
Pledge to appeal for “exceptional circumstance”
The IOW CPRE therefore calls on all parties and candidates standing in the forthcoming council elections to match their commitment to brownfield-first development by pledging to appeal for “exceptional circumstance” in the next Island Plan (potentially as part of Island Park status) and pursue a bespoke housing target focused on serving local housing need, not external housing demand.
Haig Thomas: Long argued for “brownfield first” development
Commenting on the Newport Riverside proposal, Al Haig Thomas, chairman of the Isle of Wight CPRE said,
“We welcome the “Newport Riverside” proposal recently announced by the leadership of the Isle of Wight council. At a time when the Island’s much valued countryside is under unprecedented threat from overdevelopment, this town-centre regeneration scheme offers an important example of the “brownfield first” development CPRE has long argued for.
“Focusing new housing on previously developed land is win-win: not only does it alleviate pressure to develop virgin countryside, it also delivers far more sustainable housing in terms of proximity to jobs, transport and infrastructure.”
Haig Thomas: Back-up commitment to halt Greenfield development
He went on to say,
“We’re delighted to see both the Conservatives and Labour pledging to limit Greenfield development in their respective Council manifestoes. In order to deliver on this ambition, it’s vital that the Island decouples from ill-suited national housing targets and pursues a bespoke housing policy based on local need, not external demand.
“Only with a realistic, needs-based housing target can the Council the take back control of planning and halt the appalling loss of rural landscapes that will result from the relaxation of planning protection in response to missed unrealistic housing targets.
“We therefore call for all candidates standing in May’s Council election to back-up their commitment to halt Greenfield development with a pledge to seek a lower housing target in the next Island Plan.”
IW Green Party respond
In response to the release from the IW CPRE, the Isle of Wight Green Party say,
“The Isle of Wight Green Party released our bold and comprehensive ‘For Our Future’ vision document last week, which pledged that ‘Green councillors would oppose inappropriate development which encroaches on our countryside and leads to a loss of wildlife habitats. The Council must review its housing and planning strategy, prioritise affordable homes and ensure that planning decisions are truly accountable to residents’.
“We support the CPRE in their mission to protect our countryside and to lower the housing targets. However it is the Conservative Government supported by Conservative Councils across the country which have imposed these housing targets on the Isle of Wight, and have reinforced them through Boris Johnson’s recent pledge to ‘Build Build Build’.”
Alldred: Genuine brownfield and sustainable sites should be a priority
Doug Alldred, Green Party candidate for the rural seat of Brighstone, Calbourne and Shalfleet says,
“The type of housing we build is just as important as the number of houses, and it should be determined by the needs of Island residents rather than the housing market.
“Genuine brownfield and sustainable sites should be a priority for real-life affordable homes, and we should ensure that renewable energy use and sustainability is built into the fabric of every new build. GSHP, air heat pumps, and/or solar should be essential, as well as permanent habitat provision such as bat boxes, pollinator bricks, and swift/bird boxes.”
11.30am 9th Apr 2021 – Response from Green Party added
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