OnTheWight always welcomes a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below.
As the Local Ward Councillor for Ryde East I object to the Nicholson Road Planning application in its current form and support Island Roads’ report recommending refusal.
Ryde does need well-paid jobs and I have always supported the idea of Nicholson Road site being developed into a green ecological modern future-proofed business site that is fully integrated into the local community and connected to Portsmouth University.
Vision for high tech eco-businesses
My vision was that all the power on site was renewable particularly using solar energy. I had visions that with up-to-date technology solar produced on site could be stored and provide electricity not only for the site but all residents in Ryde.
I had a vision of high tech eco-businesses that wanted lifestyle change and spacious and ecological work environments with cycling, good pedestrian walk ways to all parts of Ryde and a new railway station connected to the site which would reduce carbon emissions and use of car to site. The vision fits with a post-Covid19 climate emergency world. This proposal and application does none of this.
The Nicholson Road development set before the IW Planning Committee was designed pre-Covid19 and based on assumptions of a World that is now post-Covid19 quickly disappearing. It is a mixture of office, community facilities and factories with a road network for petrol and diesel vehicles.
In the UK, about 60 per cent of jobs before Covid19 were in offices. Now post-Covid19 demands for offices are declining as workers have good Wi-Fi at home and will continue working remotely.
Factories are also changing and in fact in the current Nicholson Road site we are seeing empty premises with no interest.
Questioned by auditors
The Isle of Wight Council’s own Audit Committee questioned the viability, sustainability, and feasibility of this new Nicholson Road site extension which was supported by the external Auditor. Isle of Wight Council is now not going to put any more funds into the development of the site.
This planning application is a last ditch attempt to get planning permission that will lever in funds for infrastructure and make the site marketable so the Council can sell it. There is no guarantee this will happen.
Adult joined-up thinking
But more importantly, Ryde Town Council’s vision for Ryde would have an overall road infrastructure plan which was for all development in the town, industrial and housing that was fit for purpose and put in place before any developments were built. This is adult joined-up thinking.
The current roads in the South of Ryde are simple country roads not designed for the heavy goods vehicles a commercial site demands.
Local roads are at full capacity
The road system through Ryde is a 19th century horse and carriageway-designed system with narrow roads with housing closely built on either side.
All traffic to Nicholson Road from the ferries has to go down St John’s Hill and over a railway bridge built in 1880 or go through country lanes from Wootton or West Ryde single lane country roads.
Island Roads’ report recommending refusal clearly states the local roads are at full capacity and not fit for increased traffic.
The proposal to enter the site from Smallbrook junction and lane by creating a roundabout is just unfeasible. It is also one jigsaw piece solution to a much needed whole jigsaw solution.
Dependent on Pennyfeathers
The Nicholson Road site is not viable unless Pennyfeathers goes ahead with its road system that takes traffic across to Brading Road, but we do not know if Pennyfeathers will ever start.
So IW Council desperate to get this site approved so it can sell it, has come up with a road access system that even Island Roads is recommending should be refused.
The whole scheme is half-baked, desperate, and if approved in current form will haunt Ryde and its residents for decades. Ryde Town Council and local residents have said the principle of an employment-creating business and eco-community park on this site is welcomed, but there has to be an adequate safe traffic, transport and road, cycling and pedestrianisation system that is fit for purpose and benefits the local community.
Go back to the drawing board
Members should both defer the decision and request IW Council Regeneration Team to go back to the drawing board and consult further with the community and come back with a workable scheme or simply refuse it outright.
Pushing the decision through to get planning permission to access funding or just sell the site is irresponsible and in fact creates a precedent for other half-baked schemes to get planning permission in the future.
Infringes on human rights
The future for Ryde South/East looks bleak with decades of eye-sore half-finished building sites designed for a pre-Covid and Climate Emergency world that time will just pass by and put in the nail in the coffin of Ryde’s future.
Lastly, putting forward a large planning application whilst we are still in Covid19 crisis when residents are vulnerable, bracing themselves for another lockdown, and less likely to have the energy to object not only infringes their human rights it is downright cruelty.
Image: © RCKa