Ahead of the Isle of Wight council election, the Island Conservatives have today revealed a set of ideas that, if approved, would result in radical changes to Newport.
The ideas – which are just that at the moment – could see Newport’s retail offering reduced to a smaller core area, with sites such as the police station, fire station and even County Hall becoming residential areas.
“Newport Riverside Quarter”
The eastern part of the town centre within the red boundary below is being referred to as the “Newport Riverside Quarter” in the Conservatives’ regeneration proposals.
Leader of the Conservative group of councillors, Dave Stewart, says the Covid-19 pandemic has had “an irreversible impact on our town centres” and that their proposals will “breathe new life” into the county town.
Part-demolition of County Hall
Among the proposals is the idea that County Hall could be partly-demolished (retaining the original frontage) or converted to housing and that the Guildhall could become a new civic centre, with a council chamber and other public uses.
Cllr Stewart says the council’s offices are significantly under-occupied due to the rollout of home-working and that “it’s right that we look to release the majority of the County Hall site (and adjoining car parks)”.
News OnTheWight has asked the Isle of Wight council how much has been spent on improvements in the last five years and will update when we hear back (after Easter).
Keeping shtum on relocation site
As has been much talked about in the past couple of years (see here), he says they would look at creating a new combined headquarters and operation centre for the police, the fire service, elements of health provision and the local authority.
Although Camp Hill has previously been mentioned as a site for the combined offices, Cllr Stewart says,
“A number of potential locations for such a hub are under consideration, but we must not compromise our commitment to securing value-for-money by talking about specific sites at this stage.”
Wider area for residential-led development
As well as the Newport Riverside Quarter area, a wider area, east of Holyrood Street, St Thomas’s Square and Town Lane, would be designated for residential-led development.
As pointed out at the beginning of this article, these ideas are just preliminary proposals.
The Conservatives say they “would be subject to further work – including the development of detailed planning policies and feasibility assessments”.
The Isle of Wight council election takes place on Thursday 6th May.