The Isle of Wight branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE IOW) has welcomed proposals put forward by the Conservative party for a new ‘Newport Riverside Quarter’, which would see County Hall, the Police Station and Fire Station all knocked down and replaced with housing.
As well as welcoming the potential transformation plans for Newport Town Centre, the countryside charity is renewing its call for Council candidates from all parties to back a lower Island-wide housing target.
CPRE has long argued for a ‘brownfield first’ approach to development, and town centre redevelopment has a major role to play in delivering the sustainable housing needed whilst protecting the much-valued countryside. CPRE national research suggests there is enough brownfield land for 1.3 million new homes across the UK and over half a million already have planning permission.
Whilst welcoming the specific proposal to redevelop the area around Coppins Bridge, CPRE IOW renews its call for the Isle of Wight Council to deliver on its commitment made in September 2019 to challenge nationally-determined housing targets in the next Island plan.
The Island’s current 675 annual housing target is premised on serving a significant migration to the Isle of Wight, rather than focusing on local housing need of those living here – the charity says. They go on to say that this target is unprecedented in the history of oand would entail the destruction of thousands of acres of Island Countryside on a scale which could not be mitigated with brownfield development alone. The IOW CPRE therefore calls on all parties and candidates standing in the forthcoming council elections to match their commitment to brownfield-first development by pledging to appeal for “exceptional circumstance” in the next Island Plan (potentially as part of Island Park status) and pursue a bespoke housing target focused on serving local housing need, not external housing demand.
Commenting on the Newport Riverside proposal, Al Haig Thomas, Chairman of the Isle of Wight CPRE, has said:
“We welcome the “Newport Riverside” proposal recently announced by the leadership of the Isle of Wight Council. At a time when the Island’s much valued countryside is under unprecedented threat from overdevelopment, this town-centre regeneration scheme offers an important example of the “brownfield first” development CPRE has long argued for. Focusing new housing on previously developed land is win-win: not only does it alleviate pressure to develop virgin countryside, it also delivers far more sustainable housing in terms of proximity to jobs, transport and infrastructure”.
“We’re delighted to see both the Conservatives and Labour pledging to limit Greenfield development in their respective Council manifestoes. In order to deliver on this ambition, it’s vital that the Island decouples from ill-suited national housing targets and pursues a bespoke housing policy based on local need, not external demand. Only with a realistic, needs-based housing target can the Council the take back control of planning and halt the appalling loss of rural landscapes that will result from the relaxation of planning protection in response to missed unrealistic housing targets. We therefore call for all candidates standing in May’s Council election to back-up their commitment to halt Greenfield development with a pledge to seek a lower housing target in the next Island Plan”.