Regeneration plans across the Island are ‘exactly where we want them to be’, the head of the project has said.
Chris Ashman, who was appointed director of regeneration in December 2016, said he was pleased with the amount of progress made so far.
“Regeneration is a long term gain — it’s a five or ten year process.”
Plans for regeneration
The ambitious plans, first set out at the start of 2017, include developing 11 sites across the Island to create 12,000 jobs and 1,200 new homes — plus £15 million in additional income for council coffers.
Key sites include Sandown Bay, Ryde Esplanade, Nicholson Road, also in Ryde, and Camp Hill, Newport.
A consultation, launched in July, received 500 responses from Islanders who were asked what they wanted to see change on their Island.
Chris said regeneration was now entering the development phase, with big planning applications due to go before the council in a few months time.
“There is a reality around what can be delivered and when.
“2017 was about conversation. 2018 was about what does that look like in terms of a suite of opportunities. Moving into 2019 and beyond is the programme delivery.”
Newport Harbour masterplan
A Newport Harbour masterplan is the first item on the agenda, due to be taken to committee in April.
Chris said a delay with a decision from the marine maritime organisation had stopped them putting a revision order to the harbour, but that decision was due any day.
“That will mean we can start looking for a development partner.
“At the moment, if we say ‘come and invest here’, we can only offer them a three year lease — we wouldn’t be seen as a credible prospect.”
Nicholson Road plans
Plans to build 30,000 square metres of industrial space at Nicholson Road, Ryde, will also begin to take shape early next year.
Concerns over the road network and nearby infrastructure had initially delayed plans.
East Cowes setback
Regeneration plans in East Cowes have hit a stumbling block, after it was revealed the multimillion pound project was plunged into crisis after its Hong Kong backer pulled out.
One marine business owner — who has now refused to move from the site — said it was ‘delusional’ to think the idea would ever work, branding the project ‘an utter balls up’.
The plans would have seen the transformation of the Venture Quays waterfront with a 400-berth marina, plush townhouses, a hotel, bars and manicured public gardens.
Chris said the council had spent time looking at acquiring the site, and possibly relocating marine manufacturing.
“We will take a fresh look at the scheme and see what its development potential looks like.”
Meeting housing needs
The 900-home Ryde Pennyfeathers scheme, and nine housing units at Medina, are also part of plans to boost the Isle of Wight’s housing stock, in line with the Island plan.
The plans at Medina had originally been rejected by planners over concerns with parking — now, units have been removed to make room for more car parking spaces.
A refurbishment of Sandown Town Hall is also part of a move to re-evaluate vacant land across the Island.
“We will be looking systematically at vacant land across the Island and seeing whether it provides us a redevelopment story with housing.”
Plans for the former Camp Hill prison could also begin to take shape, after the Ministry of Justice said it would sell the site to the council for £1.
The regeneration team is trying to access national funding for the garden communities programme that could see the site brought back into use.
Plans for housing and community restaurants could soon take shape.
“I’m really excited that if we get that garden communities support we will be able to really accelerate that process.”
Retail park at St George’s
A new retail and leisure park in Newport was announced yesterday, with plans to create 200 jobs, by South Coast Leisure.
However, Chris said the council had no plans to mirror this with the vacant units near Cineworld. The site is not owned by the council.
“We have no plans to regenerate the retail park in Newport.
“However, our other plans in Newport should help — when they are going to potential tenants talking about housing growth that should help them in marketing their premises.”
Court action for AEW over Ryde Arena
Other plans in the pipeline include the current legal challenge over Ryde ice rink on the Esplanade:
“The challenge there is we have got a long term lease holder who isn’t really doing anything with the building.
“We have taken them to court, asking them to honour the commitments of the lease.”
‘Exciting news’ for Sandown Bay
Sandown Bay is another project with news due in the new year — Chris said ‘exciting news’ was just around the corner.
With the new year just around the corner, will it be a case of new year, new Island?
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed