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This from Michael Lilley. Isle of Wight councillor for Ryde East. Ed
I wish to highlight the forthcoming planning application for a large housing development in eastern Ryde known as Westridge Farm. It is my view that this application simply destroys the last farm in the boundary of Ryde and the last dairy farm in the Eastern part of the Isle of Wight.
This farmland has been actively used for pasture-based farming for over 700 years and is an important part of the heritage of Elmfield Village. The Isle of Wight is a rural coastal community and its beauty is the balance of natural coastline and natural green fields and woodlands.
This is why we were awarded in 2019, UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Status. At a time of climate emergency to continue rapid urbanisation of our Island Towns so they expand by building on historic green field sites is, in my view, utter madness. This development will start the coalescence of Ryde and Seaview/Nettlestone that in ten years will be indistinguishable from rows of housing.
Continuing fight to save Westridge Farm
In 2017, the Ryde/Elmfield community fought hard against the first phase of the then-secret plan to create West Acre Park and lost.
Planning permission was granted for 80 houses off Hope Road. The farm lost 11 acres and had to re-adapt. The community and farmer are now faced with a further 465 houses and total destruction of this historic farm and land.
Ryde East (to be renamed Ryde Appley and Elmfield by Boundary Commission in 2021) has over 1,000 new houses with full or outline planning permission already and this latest application will push it to 1,600.
No large scale developments until fit-for-purpose road plan
The current roads which are the main through-link roads from Ryde to the Bay area and the south and eastern areas of the Island, are currently over capacity.
There is no joined up road infrastructure plan to manage the huge traffic increase for the approved and proposed developments including 1,600 new houses and expansion of Nicholson Industrial estate. The current chaos in Ryde with road repairs simply demonstrates that Ryde’s roads are not fit for purpose now let alone for West Acre Park!
Moratorium on all large scale planning applications
I am calling for a moratorium on all large scale planning applications in Ryde until there is a fit-for-purpose road infrastructure plan and a new Island Plan which has realistic Island need housing targets and recognises climate change, farming needs and our status as UNESCO Biosphere reserve.
The saying, ‘the cart before the horse’ seems appropriate, as in Ryde the private landowners and developers are second guessing what housing is needed and jumping the gun with planning applications that fit planning rules, but do not fit the reality of need on the Island.
Building on green sites is a quick fix, but totally ignores climate change and biosphere. We need to preserve green fields not build all over them.
We need housing on the Island, but we need it evenly spread and we should totally exhaust brownfield sites first. Ryde East (Appley and Elmfield) simply cannot cope with West Acre Park, it is simply one planning application too many.
West Acre Park: “About making money, not housing”
West Acre Park is, in my view, an everyday tale of coastal country folk and their continuing fight against the landowners who wish to maximise their profits.
You would think it was 1919 or even 1819, not 2019, when telling the story of tenant farmers and local residents in a fight to preserve community, traditions, human rights, preserving the last dairy farms on the Island, reserve local ecology and identity against the financial expectations of the landowners and developers.
The story of the Westridge Farm/West Acre Park development has been a continuing saga for the past three years.
Human rights of residents sacrificed
Now, the final stages of a long battle where the human rights of residents are sacrificed for what the landowners of the Isle of Wight see is for the greater good and profit.
I, philosophically, see this battle as a case of tortoises (residents who just want social justice and a right to live in peace) and hares (those who want to make a quick buck). We must rise up and protect these green fields for future generations.
People and our Environment before profit!
The West Acre Park development will be discussed at the Ryde East Ward meeting on Thursday 7th November at 7pm at St. John’s Church Hall, High Park Road.
Bob Seely (MP and Conservative Party Candidate) will be attending.