Although it was said last night that the local authority does not have enough money to fund the rebuilding of the Undercliff – the Government have been approached to see if they can help.
An ‘Expression of Interest’ has been submitted to the Department for Transportation Maintenance Challenge Fund to come up with a suitable solution for the future of the landslide in St Lawrence.
The council will then send a detailed bid for the funding if approved during the competitive period.
A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Council said:
“An Expression of Interest has been submitted to the Department for Transportation Maintenance Challenge Fund to design and deliver a solution for the possible reinstatement of Undercliff Drive.
“If successful in this competitive process, the council will submit a fully detailed bid for the funding.”
A post on the Whitwell Village Facebook Page last night says:
“The Isle of Wight Council has announced that it will be providing finance to reinstate the Undercliff Drive.
“This will be linked to a UK government bid.”
This, if reopened, will mean that the once-popular tourist road route will be able to reopen to traffic for the first time since the closure in February 2014.
Nearly 6 years ago emergency services descended on Undercliff Drive between Niton and Ventnor to assist in evacuating residents, removing possessions and securing the area.
Timeline of events over the past 6 years
Works to be carried out to strengthen Undercliff Drive
Roadworks scheme started
10th February 2014
A property was evacuated
14th February 2014
Army called to assist
15th February 2014
The British Army was called in to assist the Isle of Wight’s authorities in preventing further flooding and damage to the Island – at that point, it was unclear whether they were going to be involved in the evacuation of Undercliff Drive.
16th February 2014
A major operation to evacuate locals
18th February 2014
Plans to permanently close Undercliff Drive
29th May 2014
The Isle of Wight Council said they were considering three reports from Island Roads about sections of Undercliff Drive affected by ground movement earlier in the year, with the option of permanently closing Undercliff Drive on the table.
6 options for the future of the road to be discussed
28th June 2014
Residents invited to a meeting
17th August 2014
£500,000 considered being spent
4th September 2014
Council agreed to spend £500,000
10th September 2014
Unauthorised road built by locals
24th October 2014
The Isle of Wight Council, working alongside Island Roads, were sent to prevent vehicular access to an unsafe section of Undercliff Drive as a matter of urgency after local residents rebuilt part of the carriageway without permission or approval.
Urgent site visit
27th October 2014
Senior officials from the Isle of Wight Council were set to meet to discuss Undercliff Drive following an urgent site visit to speak to residents after the road was rebuilt by locals without permission.
Road to remain closed
Later that day, following a series of meetings between Isle of Wight Council officials they concluded that Undercliff Drive would remain fully closed to all motorists due to the risk of the patched-up road failing, posing a risk of a serious incident.
Independent technical review
14th November 2014
Road closed signs removed
23rd January 2015
1 year on
14th February 2015
A year later, the Isle of Wight Council’s Executive member for public protection and highways PFI reiterated the authority’s commitment to an already approved scheme to give vehicular access to residents of Undercliff Drive affected by the landslip.
Works set to begin
19th May 2015
Preparatory steps to restore access
23rd June 2015
Asbestos found in the unauthorised road
26th August 2015
16th September 2015
Work to create a turning head and access road for residents living in the Undercliff would not fully commence until at least August 2016 as an assessment of rare bats needed to be undertaken before trees could be felled.
2 years on
Works due to begin
18th February 2016
Works to restore access to properties at the Undercliff were said to begin on-site following work by the Isle of Wight Council and Island Roads to tackle a number of issues which had threatened to halt the progress of the planned scheme.
3 years on
Feasibility study authorised
15th February 2017
Caretaker Council Leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, authorised a feasibility study to establish the economic impact of the Undercliff Drive landslip and confirm if the problem can be stabilised to allow the road to be reinstated.
27th April 2017
4 years on
MP urged the government to help
13th June 2018
Green Party steps in
11th July 2018
Meeting to discuss the reopening of the road
28th July 2018
5 years on
Authority asked the locals for their views
13th June 2019
58% in favour of re-opening the road
18th October 2019
Almost 6 years on
Council can’t afford to fund the Undercliff without help
9th January 2019
Discussions were held during the Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet meeting, held at Whitwell Village Hall, over the future of the Undercliff Drive – in which they said the local authority could not fund without the help from the Government.