Council considers sale of land to help charity

By IW May 10, 2022

The Wildheart Trust has asked to be treated as a ‘special purchaser’ for a strip of Isle of Wight Council-owned land that adjoins its site.

The popular Wildheart Animal Sanctuary, formerly Sandown Zoo, on Yaverland Road has been a key feature of the Bay area for more than four decades. Now the trust which runs it wishes to acquire a small area of land which runs directly behind the sanctuary’s existing boundary. It says the land has ‘huge potential’ for it to expand its offering to tourists and support its charitable activities.

The charity’s request will be considered by the cabinet next Thursday (May 12). If approved, a separate decision will be needed about any disposal or leasing of the land following negotiations.

Usually local authorities are required to get the best price reasonably possible for land it sells, but that is not the case where there is a special purchaser, when other considerations can be taken into account.

In a letter to the council, Lawrence Bates, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “Land is a key resource for our charity to support our operations and, with no room to expand to the front, such a strip of land would allow us to grow and develop the charity so it can go on supporting the community and rescued animals for decades to come.”

Councillor Chris Jarman, cabinet member for strategic finances, said: “The Wildheart Trust are managing a popular and long-established tourism attraction and are seeking to invest and grow their facility and the additional land will enable them to fulfil their ambitions.

“The land in question is currently unused and unmanaged and is not identified as having any strategic value.

“Disposal to the trust would support their investment in the sanctuary, help sustain the tourism economy and potentially provide the opportunity to create additional employment and increased visitor numbers in the Bay area.”