South Coast Leisure (SCL), the company planning to redevelop the former St George’s Football ground in Newport, are requesting that Isle of Wight council change the restrictions on the option to buy IWC land at the rear of the site.
The request for change was revealed in a delegated decision notice published this week, recommending the council agree to the changes (see Appendix 2 below) and to delegate authority to the Director of Regeneration (Chris Ashman), in consultation with the Cabinet member for resources (Cllr Stuart Hutchinson), to agree the precise contract terms.
What’s being requested
The council papers say,
SCL is now requesting that all title restrictions be removed as a result of the extremely challenging retail market conditions which were not apparent in 2016/17, recently made worse by Covid: SCL advise that changes to market demand, combined with the restrictions on use, the ability for the council to buy back the former option land if SCL do not meet the agreed timescales for development and the requirement on SCL to only sell the two sites as one is proving unattractive to both tenants and funders, rendering the scheme unviable.
SCL advise that they require as much control and flexibility as possible if they are to successfully deliver the new retail park.
Essentially, the council is being asked to convert controls which were agreed five years ago when the retail market in particular was very different to that of today and convert them to value which will be paid to the council in the future if these changes prove to have additional value.
McDonald’s have submitted plans for a drive-through restaurant, and Aldi and Wickes are rumoured to be interested in the site. SCL claim the scheme would create 200 jobs.
Councillor resigned over plans
Newport Central ward councillor, Cllr Julie Jones Evans, objected to the planning application for the site in October 2019 – resigning from the council’s Planning Committee immediately afterwards.
“This is an abomination, it is against our regeneration policy. Our high streets are dying. We want to regenerate our town centre.
“I dispute the findings totally. We need to put the heart and life and soul back into Newport.”