Potential opportunities to improve Island prosperity and sustainability have been identified in a major new regeneration programme unveiled by the Isle of Wight Council, designed to bring key investment, jobs and other financial and community benefits to the Island over a 10 year period.
The new programme – due to be considered by the Council’s Executive on 15th December – identifies 11 significant regeneration sites in Newport, Ryde and The Bay (including some where the council is landowner), where it’s believed projects are the most deliverable and will have the greatest positive impact on the Island’s financial challenges.
In Newport, it is said that 1,300 homes with high open spaces, community and social infrastructure could be built on land surrounding Camp Hill prison, creating up to 6,000 jobs and generating around £7million a year in revenue for the Council. In addition, 65 new homes, 510 new jobs and £750,000 a year could be created by developing land at Newport Quay.
As well as residential development, the Council’s regeneration programme highlights the potential to build commercial property on land at Horsebridge Hill and Stag Lane between Newport and Cowes, jointly creating up to 4,240 new jobs and £5million a year in revenue.
In Ryde, the expansion of the Nicholson Road industrial estate near Smallbrook is on the cards creating 840 new jobs and generating £870,000 a year in revenue. On the seafront, the Ryde Interchange project has been reignited with the potential for 150 new jobs.
The Council is currently investing in and appointing a new regeneration team, to be led by a director of regeneration; the team will be charged with taking forward this programme and securing the necessary resources for its delivery.
In addition to the 11 sites identified – which includes The Heights, Sandown; Harcourt Sands, Ryde; Sandham Middle School, Sandown and Shanklin Spa Hotel, Shanklin Esplanade – the Council will continue to support existing regeneration activities, including those at East Cowes, Dinosaur Isle and with housing associations, such as Sovereign (formerly Spectrum).
Executive member for regeneration, housing and homelessness and transport, Councillor Julia Baker-Smith, said:
“We are determined to bring fresh investment and create wealth and many more jobs on the Island to ensure we have a bright and sustainable economic future. To do this we must be innovative and creative in our thinking, and bold and ambitious in driving ahead with regeneration projects.
“The regeneration programme going before the Executive is a key starting point in this process, and there will be much fine-tuning as we seek to implement the plans – as well as all-important consultation with key stakeholders and the public.
“It is vital we focus on regeneration, productivity and growth for the Island and the council – and as well as bringing investment and jobs, the programme is intended to generate income for the council that will enable it to continue to fund key public services for the Island’s community.”
The Council’s Executive is being asked to adopt the regeneration programme, which highlights the potential financial benefits in the development of the 11 key sites – including the creation of key additional business rates and council tax income for the Island, as well as access to the government’s new homes bonus.
Council leader, Councillor Jonathan Bacon, said:
“These indeed are ambitious plans and as they are developed by our new regeneration team they will of course be moulded to reflect local community and the wider Island need, but also with a view to maximising economic benefit for the Island. The sites identified are a starting point, and are the most deliverable because of the council’s actual or potential involvement with them – but the programme doesn’t rule out other projects being included. There are also, of course, the existing projects we have been working on as well.
“The council has been hit incredibly hard by the national austerity agenda, with almost £60 million removed from our budget over the past five years, and a further £24 million required over the next four years. Our medium term financial plan, approved, by Full Council in October, recognises that we cannot sustain services to the community purely by making savings, and so is very much a ‘regeneration’ plan focusing on maximising income and revenue through the innovative and bold use of council land and assets.”
Councillor Bacon said the programme would also complement work currently underway on the ‘One Public Estate’ project, for which a grant of £50,000 has been secured and which focuses on public sector bodies such as the council, health and police developing more efficient use of their land and buildings.
“This is a vital initiative for the council’s and Island’s economic future, and we are determined the programme will help to maximise the benefits from these key sites, and help to project the Island as an attractive future location for inward investors and private funding.”
The report to the Executive also recommends negotiating the acquisition of employment land from the Homes and Community Agency at Kingston Business Park, East Cowes and the Island technology park, Whippingham. This will ensure the council has a secure supply of employment sites, especially in the marine sector, to support its aspirations for the short to medium term.
To view the Isle of Wight Regeneration Programme, visit https://www.iwight.com/Meetings/committees/Executive/15-12-16/Paper C.pdf.