The Isle of Wight Council approved its own plans for regeneration — with an aim to open them next summer.
Planning permission was granted last night (Tuesday) for the council to knock down the existing but shut loos on Pier Street and replace them with modern facilities, a shop opposite the entrance to the pier and a restaurant at first-floor level, looking out across Sandown Bay.
However, concerns were raised about the change in plans — after a public performance space, flower beds and planters across the site were removed in revised plans.
Island Roads raised concerns over the highway safety of the proposed alterations which would have seen large vehicles reversing in an area with a lot of pedestrians, and also lack of detail about the carriageway and footway in the area.
A resident and member of Our Sandown said it was disappointing to learn significant parts of the proposals for the Pier Street public space, multi-use area, had been ‘stripped out’ of the application due to objections from Island Roads.
He said Sandown deserves the best possible regeneration for this site and asked for the decision to be deferred so the application could be re-arranged.
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, from Newport Central, echoed the sentiments, saying the loss of the pedestrian area was fundamental to the application and asked to defer the application until it was fit for purpose.
She said: “Why not get it right? Sandown deserves this.
“I feel this is an opportunity to put people first in what is a wonderful space we have got for Sandown.
Planning officer Sarah Wilkinson, however, said if the application was approved as it was, with four conditions, it would not stop a further planning application at another point, adding to the scheme.
Isle of Wight Councillor for the area, Cllr Ian Ward, urged committee members to help push through a development that has been in the pipeline for eight years and two administration changes.
He said: “The [current] building deteriorated further to the point it made to be closed on safety grounds — we are now at the point where something has to be done and soon.
“This is a prime site on Sandown seafront and would make a considerable contribution to the regeneration of the town — boast tourism footfall, create jobs for our young and maybe not so young as well as generally increasing the towns tourism economy.
“While the multi-use facility has temporarily been dropped from the application to give time to the redesign of the facility can I ask officers to press ahead — Sandown residents have waited eight years so far for this redevelopment please do not delay it further.
“The aim is to have it open for the 2021 season and any delay would push it back further.”
Councillors voted in favour of going ahead with the application, allowing the old toilets to be partially demolished and building a new cafe/restaurant and commercial unit, seven to one, as Cllr Jones-Evans wanted to defer the application.
The way the councillors voted:
For: Cllrs Michael Beston, Richard Hollis, John Kilpatrick, Matthew Price, Brian Tyndall, Shirley Smart, Chris Quirk.
Against: Cllr Julie Jones-Evans.