A petition to stop houses being built at Seaclose Park has been signed by more than 1,000 residents in just 24 hours.
After a motion to the Isle of Wight Council to review the proposal for housing was rejected, Cllr Matthew Price has stepped up his opposition, gathering support from the community with a petition to stop the development.
Cllr Price, ward representative for Newport North, which includes Seaclose Park, has been campaigning the Isle of Wight Council to change part of the plans for Newport Harbour in a massive regeneration project which would see the area becoming a ‘cultural destination’.
More than 40 houses are outlined to be built on the land at the entrance to Seaclose Park – building on the Fairlee Service Station and potentially impacting the Isle of Wight Festival, which usually takes place at Seaclose every year.
Cllr Price said to even consider building on a public park that provides a breathing space for Newport and its residents is plainly wrong.
“I think everyone will welcome attempts to regenerate the harbour and the surrounding area, and, by all means, consider housing on some of the brownfield land that is available – there is plenty of it and I have suggested other better sites to council officers.
“But looking to chew up swathes of green amenity space is completely unacceptable to me and many more in the community, particularly these who use Seaclose Park.
“This park is so important and so special that this project must be removed from the masterplan in its entirety. I cannot support losing this valuable greenfield amenity space.”
The Newport Harbour Masterplan is currently waiting to be adopted by the Isle of Wight Council as a supplementary planning document which will be the basis of any future planning applications for the site.
Director of regeneration at the council, Chris Ashman, has previously said the proposals had been revised at least twice due to community feedback but the regeneration team were challenged with producing a viable plan that gave the necessary housing opportunities to make the overall harbour scheme viable and affordable. He said:
“The use of that area from Fairlee Road, that comes into Seaclose, was clearly a challenge in the loss of green space and we are anxious to work with local members to ensure the mitigation of that is managed as carefully and considerately as possible.”
Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council is also to discuss the controversial housing at their next meeting on Monday 13th July after a motion was submitted opposing the development.
Cllr Price, who is vice-chairman of the community council said other Newport councillors have also voiced concerns. He said:
“I would not want to pre-empt discussion of course but I would be very surprised if the Community Council did not share our concerns when the proposals are discussed.
“The number of people signing the petition and the speed at which it is growing speaks volumes about how unpopular this plan is among Newport residents. I have not heard a single local voice in favour.
“Seaclose has been a much-loved, and greatly-used park for generations – it is totally inappropriate for any housing project. The whole community is against it.
“There is increasing local anger at the way in which council officers and the regeneration consultants have promoted this plan and there is now a growing determination to rise up against it. It is also not part of Newport Harbour.”
The Newport Harbour Masterplan will be discussed in August by the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet and Cllr Price is urging councillors to ‘do the right thing and drop’ the plans for housing on Seaclose Park.
To sign the petition you can go to https://www.change.org/p/isle-of-wight-council-say-no-to-housing-on-seaclose-park.