Members of the East Cowes Arts and Culture Group have hit back at comments made by the local boat builder, Peter Morton, that their scheme for a cultural arts centre is “just another one made up by harebrained do-gooders” that would “displace the marine industry based at the site”.
Sharon Lake told OnTheWight,
“I have been fighting for five years to keep employment on this site and would do nothing to jeopardise that.
“If IWC can guarantee a long term future for Wight Shipyard at the Columbine then we would be more than happy with that.”
Plans made clear
In the very first press release from the group, it clearly stated:
Whilst we fully support the building being utilised for employment it has been widely publicised that the marine industry currently housed there will be relocated to Kingston Marine Park.
As part of the East Cowes Regeneration Project Team we have been informed that a long term business case for the building will need to be conducted.
We firmly believe that this opportunity should be seriously considered and explored as a viable, alternative option in the event of any future proposals for residential development of the Columbine building.
Lake: Morton has said shed too small
Sharon went on to say
“However Mr Morton has voiced publicly that the shed is now too small for his needs (Island Business magazine) and our concern is that if this business moves out – rather than look for an alternative tenant the IWC will look to maximise profits for the site and look to build it – specifically because the building has been added to the brownfield site register (to bring forward housing within 15 years).”
Sharon explained that would be the time to revisit the idea and that it is all about ensuring a long term future for the iconic Columbine building, making sure it’s retained in some capacity for meaningful employment or community use and not for second homes/apartments.
She went on to add,
“The proposal also states that Victoria Barracks and a new landmark building on Maresfield could be an alternative site for this project – there is also land at Trinity if RF put that up for sale.”
Lake: No real employment strategy
Sharon finished by saying,
“I am equally frustrated there is no real employment strategy for these businesses – they have been treated appallingly and have survived through that and I hope they have many more successful and productive years at the Columbine.”