COUNTY HALL COULD BE DEMOLISHED UNDER AMBITIOUS REGENERATION PLANS BY THE CONSERVATIVES

Isle of Wight Conservatives have today (Friday) unveiled a set of ambitious ideas for how Newport Town Centre could be transformed over the coming years, which could include demolishing almost all of County Hall, plus the local police and fire stations, to make way for more housing.

Recognising how the pandemic has significantly accelerated the pace of change in the High Street, it is proposed to seize the opportunity this presents to breathe new life into the Island’s County Town.

At the heart of this new vision – which would complement the Newport Harbour Masterplan and the town’s Heritage Action Zone designation – is a proposal to establish a vibrant ‘Newport Riverside Quarter’ in the eastern part of the town centre which sits alongside the River Medina. This will be a key pledge within the forthcoming Conservative manifesto.

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With the Harbour Masterplan having been adopted at the end of last year and with the Seaclose housing element dropped, it is now proposed to provide new housing on brownfield land in the town centre, whilst Seaclose Park would see sports and recreation facilities enhanced for new and existing residents, as part of the wider regeneration of the harbour area.

Through a submission to the Council’s recent ‘call for brownfield sites’ consultation, leader of the Conservative party Dave Stewart outlined how the Council could work with public sector partners to bring forward a high-quality, sustainable mixed-use regeneration scheme on public sector land within a defined red line, ahead of inviting other landowners in a wider defined area to consider doing the same.

If these ideas are taken forward, the regeneration would include:

Demolishing the majority of the County Hall building or repurposing it for housing to implement the first element of the Quarter’s regeneration, with a sustainable, residential-led scheme to create new homes for Islanders and high-quality public space, including the planting of new trees.

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Building more new homes on the land currently utilised as the Police station, fire station, CAHMS and the former Shoulder of Mutton pub site as the second element of the Quarter’s regeneration

More homes east of Holyrood Street, St Thomas’ Square and Town Lane

Retaining much of the cultural heritage of the area, with historic buildings being retained and enhanced – commercial, business and service uses remaining in place where existing businesses wish to continue

Establishing a new civic centre in The Guildhall, including a new council chamber on the first floor for use by the Isle of Wight Council and other public uses

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Minimising the number of additional cars associated with the residential development, by introducing a car club initiative where vehicles could be shared between public sector staff during the day and made available to local residents in the evenings and at weekends

Whilst regeneration of Newport Town Centre would be not be limited to the proposed Newport Riverside Quarter area, it is proposed that a greater emphasis is placed on retaining retail/commercial uses in the areas outside of the Quarter boundary. This would mean that Newport has a smaller, but more vibrant retail core from the area to the west of St Thomas’ Square to the current boundary with Carisbrooke Road.

Speaking about the new vision – which is supported by all 7 Conservative candidates standing in Newport seats in the forthcoming elections – Conservative Group Leader Dave Stewart has said:

“The pandemic has had an irreversible impact on our town centres, including Newport. Rather than managing decline, we must now look at how we take a radically different approach to breathe new life into our County Town, which will also help us protect green spaces elsewhere on the Island.

“What we are unveiling today is a set of ideas to start a dialogue with fellow Islanders about how we revitalise Newport Town Centre. These are, at this stage, just proposals – but ones which we intend to take forward with vigour if re-elected in the forthcoming elections.

“I firmly believe that the Council must lead the way. The local authority has riverside landholdings at the heart of the town centre, including our principal offices which are now significantly under-occupied due to the rollout of home-working. Whilst staff will still need places to meet in person from time to time, it is evident that this can be provided on a much smaller scale in a series of locations around the Island. It is therefore right that we look to release the majority of the County Hall site (and adjoining car parks) to unlock the regeneration of Newport through this riverside development, making it an even more attractive place for people to live and visit.

“We would also look to establish a new combined headquarters and operation centre for public services, combining facilities for the police, the fire service, elements of health provision (separate to St Mary’s) and the local authority. A number of potential locations for such a hub are under consideration, but we must not compromise our commitment to securing value-for-money by talking about specific sites at this stage. Having a combined location also aligns with our approach to secure a more integrated approach to the delivery of public services, strengthening what was put in place during the pandemic. We are also determined to keep a staff presence in the town centre to support High Street footfall during the day.

“I am confident that we can work with our public sector partners to see a number of their sites added to the mix. There are also many privately-owned buildings within the proposed Quarter, and the owners of many of these properties will already be considering the possible use of new planning rules to enable a change to residential. Whilst this is understandable, there is also the potential for the Council to explore whether more substantial changes – in keeping with Newport’s historic character – could be granted planning permission to further improve the diversification of the town centre.

“We also recognise that there is widespread public concern about the potential for many more new homes being built on open green space in different parts of the Island. By bringing forward proposals such as our Newport Riverside Quarter vision, we can remove the need – for many years – to provide new residential properties in our green spaces (unless there are exceptional reasons to do so). Protecting the Island’s countryside is a key part of our forthcoming manifesto, and this Newport Riverside proposal will help us achieve that.”

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
27 Comments
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Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box
2 months ago

Can we have the money back that you wanted for your new air con then Dave?, No, I thought not.

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 months ago

But the iow council do not run the fire service anymore so not sure how that’s going to work Hampshire would have to agree that surly

Martin Shoebridge
Martin Shoebridge
2 months ago

There must be an election coming up… Car Club ? This should have been posted yesterday in line with April 1st traditions!

billyboy
billyboy
2 months ago

The Island doesn’t have the infrastructure to cope with more houses. We have just one hospital that is already overloaded, It’s impossible to find an NHS dentist, there are delays in getting a doctor’s appointment because surgeries are closing or have too many patients. At times there are significant delays in various places because the roads cannot cope with the volume of traffic. Come on IW Council we need a joined up plan if you want more houses.

Oldbutalive
Oldbutalive
2 months ago

I still wont be voting for a Tory.

Author Sausage
Author Sausage
Reply to  Oldbutalive
2 months ago

Nor will I & others hopefully.

New blood needed in Council & people who care about the Island & the people who pay their over inflated self regulating pay rises, absolute shambles.

yes way
yes way
2 months ago

So their radically different approach to the retail crisis in Newport is to squash it into a smaller area – genius.

Helen Highwater
Helen Highwater
2 months ago

Well, we aren’t going to need a Police HQ nor a FIre HQ, thanks to our Tory administration selling out to Hampshire.

Could it be arranged that Councillors of a certain group were having a meeting inside when County Hall gets pulled down?

Davimel
Davimel
2 months ago

Well… if they do decide to regenerate the area, I hope it is done before they spend our hard earned cash on Air Conditioning! Knowing this lot they will end up with a huge concrete monstrosity for Fire, Police and Council workers that will never work, will probably fall down or be 10 floors with the Fire station on the top and the bottom 7 floors empty.. and no lifts!

plato
plato
2 months ago

More nonsense never to happen plans to harvest your votes next month. If any of it were to happen it would ONLY be to produce more unneeded flats to house the presumably jobless as none of the plans seem to include employment generation.

Steven
Steven
Reply to  plato
2 months ago

Trust me they WILL NOT get my and my family’s vote they are a utter waste of time and our money

Mop bucket
Mop bucket
2 months ago

Sound like a plan, does that mean there is no need to concrete over Ryde then? I guess Westridge Farm is safe.

Same old, same old
Same old, same old
Reply to  Mop bucket
2 months ago

If only…………………………………….

JHVF
JHVF
2 months ago

Further destruction of the infrastructure to build yet more houses, DON’T BE RIDICULOUS
(Or was this first posted yesterday)

Know it all
Know it all
Reply to  JHVF
2 months ago

How can putting new housing into a town environment revitalise it . You need businesses of all kinds in a town centre to bring life to it. Regeneration quarter, Riverside quarter. Sounds like the Bronx.
I’m no Luddite but i realy think this council lives on a different planet. I have lived in big cities with councillors acting like the ones we have. And at the end of the day they produce irreversible ghettoes.
God help us

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
2 months ago

How is building new houses on these sites going to regenerate Newport town center? What we need is more cheap to rent shop premises.

NotPastItYet
NotPastItYet
2 months ago

Having awarded themselves a large pay rise, they now want newly refurbished office space. Can’t have them cooped up in those offices, can we? Please can we get rid of the lot of them in May?

Ryde News
Ryde News
2 months ago

Brilliant news… Newport needs regeneration. Along with Ryde Sandown and Shanklin.

Miss sensible
Miss sensible
2 months ago

Well well that sounds absolutely ridiculous!!!!
There won’t be any shop’s for anyone to shop in (have they noticed all the empty shops) .
Our Hospital is probably the best thing to spend the money on and Dr’s NHS Dentists, building houses flats more people less facilities.
Round of applause for this idea !!!!! Not !!!

Bryan
Bryan
2 months ago

Oh look, another massive housing development, deliberate lack of parking, more of that ‘vibrancy’ bureaucrats love to pretend they will somehow create but never do, plenty more ‘green’ nonsense with the additional taxpayer funded public sector non-jobs that go with it and what’s the icing on the cake of this wonderful new soviet style utopia? you might be able to borrow someone else’s car once in a while to experience a bit of life outside your high quality sustainable concrete rabbit hutches – who could possibly resist that !!

Old Mike
Old Mike
Reply to  Bryan
2 months ago

The trouble with Utopias is that they have lots and lots and lots of rules, which must be obeyed at all times without question!

anon
anon
2 months ago

And the contact for all this goes to. Let me guess friends of the council.

Know it all
Know it all
Reply to  anon
2 months ago

Exactly who are these public sector partners ???

george kennedy
george kennedy
2 months ago

lets all vote out these money grabbing island destroying morons they couldn’t run a sand pit

Sunshine
Sunshine
2 months ago

This council are going all out to RUIN the island. What the hell is wrong with them. More housing. The infrastructure can’t cope, can’t they see this???? Total utter idiots. STOP before it’s too late. With the huge development at Ryde starting this year, when do the council plan to build another hospital, draft in more Police, Ambulance, Fire Service, GP surgeries, Dentists, WHEN???? Never, no thought not. The islands roads will become a mass crawl. Dave Stewart won’t care, once he’s out, he’ll
do a runner off the island and go live somewhere exclusive on the mainland!

Hard hat harry
Hard hat harry
2 months ago

Hopefully the selfish moron councillors will be inside when it is demolished .

Get them out
Get them out
2 months ago

“Save money” So you propose to demolish 1 square mile make it a bigger eye sore than it already is. Build another load of shoddy sh*te next to the river so you can watch the swans swim up and down and keep a eye on your boats. Never mind that Newport harbour is over 400 years and these monkeys want to build on it another dump like the riverside centre that is a damn awful place.
The conservative part it’s history and the aim was to conserve all they are doing is self serve and destroy. Once again get the scum out!

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