Following the earlier report of the Scrutiny Committee’s debate about purchase of Venture Quays, here’s the Isle of Wight council’s press release head of the decision-making meeting tonight. Ed
A “flagship” investment opportunity to protect jobs and secure the future of one of the Island’s most iconic buildings must not be squandered, the leader of the Isle of Wight Council has said.
After months of negotiations with Homes England, Cabinet members are due to consider the purchase of the historic Columbine site — famous for its huge Union flag doors — later today (9 July).
Investing in the prime waterfront site would not only protect at least 150 marine manufacturing jobs, but preserve key employment land for the benefit of the Island’s workforce for many years to come.
It would also help to give confidence about the future at a time when coronavirus has created some uncertainty for local people and businesses.
Stewart: We must secure future of Columbine building
Council leader, Dave Stewart, said:
“The purchase of the Venture Quays sites, including the Columbine building, was a flagship investment opportunity highlighted to Boris Johnson when he visited the Island in 2019.
“Despite the clear economic challenges presented by the pandemic, acquiring these sites will protect Island jobs and preserve marine engineering in this location, as well as provide land for housing on a brownfield site.
“The current tenant, Wight Shipyard, has flourished over the past three years, creating more than 100 jobs at the site and supporting a further 200 in the local supply chain.
“We must end the uncertainty around the future of this building once and for all and give them the security and confidence to continue to invest in the business at this deep water location.
“Subject to tonight’s decision, we look forward to successfully concluding negotiations with Wight Shipyard which meets the needs of both parties.
“This ambitious project is an excellent example of how the council is helping our economy to recover from the ravages of coronavirus and supporting local business.”
Maintain marine and associated industries
The £1.3 million acquisition has been the subject of talks since July 2019 and includes three other nearby sites for potential regeneration.
The sites are collectively known as Venture Quays — and as well as Columbine, include the Victoria Barracks building, the Albany warehouse, and a Maresfield Road site currently used for car parking.
By acquiring the sites the council will be able to maintain marine and associated industries at Columbine and potentially redevelop the Victoria Barracks site for leisure and public realm use, and the Albany and Maresfield Road sites for housing.
Whittle: Kick-starting economic recovery
Councillor Wayne Whittle, Cabinet member for regeneration and business development, said the council was well placed to hold the land for future generations in support of the marine and maritime industries, as a part of its ongoing regeneration programme.
“This would be good news at any time, but is especially welcome now as we look to kick-start economic recovery following the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This administration is ready to support and stand by our skilled Island workforce and marine industry to preserve jobs and valuable deep water access.
“This deal with Homes England is dependent on the council creating new homes on the other two sites, and we will make sure the residential offer will meet our Island’s social economic and local needs.”
Cabinet is due to meet ‘virtually’ at 5pm today and people can follow the meeting by clicking here.