Island Roads set out plans to reinstate access road for residents on Undercliff Drive

Following OnTheWight’s report last week on the two year anniversary of the Undercliff Drive landslide, Island Roads set out their plans for reinstating the access road for the landlocked residents.

Undercliff Drive mudslide Feb 2014

This in from Claire on behalf of Island Roads, Ed

Works to restore access to properties at the Undercliff Drive are to begin on site shortly following work by the Isle of Wight Council and Island Roads to tackle a number of issues which had threatened to halt the progress of the planned scheme.

Western end turning head
The initial focus will be on the creation of a turning head for vehicles at the western (Niton) end, which will begin with preparatory works to clear old tree stumps and undergrowth, followed by construction work for a three-week period commencing on 22 February.

No evidence of bat habitation
In the area of the Undercliff, where the new access road is due to be constructed, there is also good news after concerns that rare bats may be present in the woodland.

Following a tree climbing survey by bat experts, of the 18 trees identified for removal as part of the scheme, there was no evidence of bat habitation within 17 of the trees, with just one deemed as having ‘potential’ for bat habitation. As a safeguard, a bat expert will therefore need to be present on site throughout the process of the works. This process has resulted from discussions between Island Roads and Natural England.

Negotiations with land owner
The works at this location, however, also require assent from Natural England for the removal of trees and while this has been granted it is subject to confirmation of the land owner.

The council is currently in negotiations with the land owner – the Wildlife Trust – to acquire the land and the Trust’s agreement will also be needed before works can progress.

Increased ground water levels
The persistent rain that the Island has experienced over the winter period is presenting a further challenge though for other parts of the scheme.

Ground water level monitoring indicates that water levels have increased in the area where the access road is due to be constructed and in the area from the east between Fleet House and Woodlands where a pedestrian access route is due to be created.

Weekly monitoring data also shows an increase in the ground movement rate during the period December 2015 to January 2016. As a consequence of the prevailing conditions, it would be inappropriate to begin any works in this area (where the major slippage occurred) in the current circumstances.

Island Roads will, however, monitor conditions with a view to starting the work as soon as the relevant permissions are in place, water levels recede and ground movements stabilise to the point where it is appropriate to progress works.

Removal of existing road material
In the meantime, Island Roads has also registered with the Environment Agency to enable specialists to be commissioned to remove the contaminated materials present in the area when it is appropriate to do so, but for the time being the materials continue to pose no direct risk to residents.

The Environment Agency has agreed to the material being left on site during the winter.

Eastern turning head
At the eastern (Ventnor) end of the scheme the creation of a turning head will also impact on a small number of trees. This turning head is not within a site of special scientific interest and does not require permission from Natural England to remove trees.

As in other locations, a bat expert will be present on site during any tree felling activity. The site for these works, however, is also sensitive to the water table and ground movements and therefore Island Roads is unable to progress the works at this location until the prevailing conditions stabilise.

The area will be subject to an ongoing monitoring regime which will determine when it is suitable for these works to proceed.

Jordan: “We sympathise greatly with those residents affected”
Councillor Phil Jordan, Isle of Wight Council Executive member for the PFI, said:

“We appreciate that this has been a lengthy process to get to this point and we sympathise greatly with those residents affected and appreciate their ongoing patience.

“This has, however, not been a straightforward situation when multiple land ownership, contaminated materials, protected wildlife habitation, adverse weather and ongoing geological movement have all contributed to a lengthy but necessary process for scheduling works on site.

“However, we are pleased that Island Roads can now make a start on the scheme to help restore access for Undercliff residents.”

Area remains a construction site
Island Roads will also shortly be replacing the vandalised hoardings at both the eastern and western ends of the Undercliff to maintain the security and safety of the area.

The site remains a construction area and as such we would remind residents not to enter the area within the hoardings as the area is still deemed unsafe for public access at this time.

Thursday, 18th February, 2016 12:31pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Niton, PFI, 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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15 Comments on "Island Roads set out plans to reinstate access road for residents on Undercliff Drive"

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Stupid place to buy a house. Waste of public money.



No doubt it was a complete surprise that this area was prone to landslips, the idea that people would take a gamble to buy property that they couldn’t afford somewhere more geologically stable then moan when the inevitable happens is outrageous.

I’m sure we are all happy bailing them out.


Good to see generosity of spirit is alive and well on IW !

At long last. Let’s hope the work all gets done without any further problems and these poor residents can get back into their homes as soon as possible. As to the comments about resident being ‘stupid’ for buying a house there, I know people who bought there 40 odd years ago and full surveys did not show any problems or any risk of further landslide. They were… Read more »

Please god, let this be ‘the beginning of the end’ of this disaster for the residents.

How soon until the new road is built and they are back in their homes?

Anyone living on the Island all their lives would be bound to be aware of instability problems here. But the Island isn’t the centre of the world and those families moving here from the mainland and get mortgages and insurance (after surveys) are pretty much in the dark about the possibility of their house sliding into the sea. Have a heart ! I hope access will be… Read more »

Sorry typo !

Three quotes from the above : “Ground water level monitoring indicates that water levels have increased in the area where the access road is due to be constructed and in the area from the east between Fleet House and Woodlands where a pedestrian access route is due to be created.” “Island Roads will, however, monitor conditions with a view to starting the work as soon as the… Read more »
Philip Hawkins

Just consider this – the existing road was probably good for another 100 years at least (it’s just over 70 years since the army did away with the bridge outside what is now ‘Woodlands’?).

How much longer is the water/drainage problem going to be used as an excuse for doing nothing?


Might it not be an idea to put some more manpower onto the Upper Ventnor road and get that finished before starting this. Businesses in the town are suffering due to Island Roads short workday and no weekends policy. They need to pull their finger out.


Problems with the water table to be tackled,cutting down trees will not help,is it not known that trees help to reduce the water table by using it.


I’m sorry but to slow or delay work, or even divert work becuase one or two trees might harbour BATS ?
Has the World gone mad. ??
Does the average person go through life thinking about Bats? I love wildlife but removing a few tress will not materially make the Worldf a wrose place to live in. Peoples homes and livelkihoods should come first every single time !


Apologies for typing my contribution in the dark > too many typos…

Darren Irving
Roydini – To say “removing a few tress will not materially make the World a worse place to live in. Peoples homes and livelihoods should come first every single time !” So shall we remove all the trees we want when we want ? Please read the quote below (It’s a bit long!) “Of particular importance for us has been the role of trees in the evolution… Read more »
What a lot of spin! Well-informed members of the public will be aware that there are laws governing the permissions required to carry out works that affect protected species, designated sites, the felling of trees and the disposal of contaminated materials. The Council and their professional contractors will also be aware and know who to contact about putting plans into action. That’s what they get paid for.… Read more »