A group of residents have got together, as part of an inclusive community project, to regain access to the East Cowes Esplanade and woodland.
The scheme has been backed by East Cowes Town Council and originally dates back two years, when the IW Council set up local workshops in order to identify local projects which could be undertaken by a community.
The Esplanade at East Cowes has suffered two landslips in the last six years. The most recent in 2018, resulted in the Isle of Wight Council putting up Heras fencing along a significant section of the Esplanade, which significantly reduced the space on the sea front.
Sharon Lake, a local resident, has been at the forefront of the project and explained: “When the IW Council set up the workshops, it soon became clear that the Esplanade was the area that people wanted to focus on. However, while the Council had plans drawn up to replace street furniture and play areas, our community had something else on our minds.
“We wanted to regain access to their Esplanade and woodland – a lot of which has been inaccessible since a landslip had occurred in 2014. Early last year, it became clear that work in the area of the landslip would not be happening and the IW Council would not be providing any resource for it. However we were determined to, at least, get the Esplanade tidied up and to look a little more loved.
“Two months ago, our Landslip Steering Group was given permission to produce plans for the stretch of Esplanade from the beach huts to the first landslip. A Facebook page (East Cowes Esplanade & Landslip Community Project) was set up, which attracted almost 200 locals overnight, many of whom have offered their services in a voluntary capacity.
“In the last four weeks alone, more than 100 voluntary hours have been clocked up tidying the area, clearing blocked drains and gullies and accumulated rubbish and removing weeds and moss from the road. There were 26 volunteers working together on Saturday and interest is growing by the week.
“We hope the IW Council will now approve our plans. We plan to start work next March to put gabions in front of the current retaining wall, enabling the removal of the Heras fencing and regain a small part of our Esplanade.
“An additional 20-plus professional hours have also been spent drawing up and finalising plans ready to submit to the council. This is an inclusive community project – from art and gardening to civil engineering – there will be something which everyone can get involved with. This project will succeed because the people want it to. Once the voluntary goodwill slows down, so will the project.
“East Cowes Town Council has provided £5,000 to kick off the project and further fundraising opportunities will be pursued over the coming months.
“I have been totally overwhelmed with the support we have received from the East Cowes Town Council and the local community in the past six weeks. Support and interest is growing daily.”
Anyone who wants to volunteer for the project can email: firstname.lastname@example.org with contact details or visit the Facebook page.