Conditional approval has been recommended for a scheme to build 473 homes in Ryde, despite a petition, 570 objections and human rights concerns.
Set to be discussed at the Isle of Wight Council’s planning committee next week, the development of Westridge Farm into West Acre Park has been partially determined by planning officers.
The major development would see Ryde’s last dairy farm turned into 473 houses, a cafe with public toilets, doctor’s surgery, office space and 10 hectares of natural greenspace.
National planning policies say 35% of the houses will need to be affordable in a mixture of 166x 1, 2 and 3-bed properties. The remaining 307, as proposed by applicants Westridge Village (IOW) (part of Captiva Homes), will be for private sale as 2, 3 and 4-bed properties.
Should the approval be granted, a section 106 agreement would provide allotments, 3 public rights of way, improvements to highways, including at Westridge Cross and the junction between Smallbrook Lane and Great Preston Road, as well as nearly £1.7million towards a children’s services or education facility.
The plans have been met with 570 objections, including from local councillors and the Island’s MP Bob Seely, and more than 4,700 people signing a petition to save the farm. Main points of concern included the inadequate infrastructure of Ryde and the Island, the impact on highways and the traffic generation and overdevelopment of the site.
Ryde Town Council completed its own consultation and found although new housing was required, it should be affordable and for residents. However, there was a strong feeling that the proposed site was not suitable.
Numerous commenters have said the scheme should be built on brownfield land and the farmland protected but in the Isle of Wight Council officers’ report, it was determined the development would be appropriate and sustainable for the land.
Officers said the land quality was good to moderate but only 8.875 hectares of the best and most versatile agricultural land would be lost, which was not ‘unacceptable’.
It had also been suggested that building on the land would breach the Hollidays’ human rights and the right to respect for private and family life but officers said although it was an emotive issue, having balanced the benefits of the development and the under-provision of housing on the Island, the principle of housing was acceptable.
Another issue was whether the houses would be available to Islanders, and while officers said the private dwellings could not be gated, the 166 affordable units would be available firstly to those in Ryde, then neighbouring parishes, as well as being made available on the Island’s Homefinder website.
The council’s planning committee will meet next Tuesday (27th July) to determine the application.