Nettlestone and Seaview Parish Council wants to buy land, owned by the Isle of Wight Council, to prevent up to 100 houses being built on it.
The parish council says the 4-hectare field, off Eddington Road, Nettlestone, is a refuge for wildlife and valued by the community. It has asked the IW Council to list the land as an asset of community value, giving the parish council an opportunity to purchase it themselves and develop it in a way acceptable to the local community.
In November 2018 the field was listed by the council as a greenfield site, suitable for around 40 housing units. However, the local authority has now selected Southern Housing Group as preferred bidder for the site, who want to build between 90 and 100 affordable units. The Council claims the housing association’s bid offers ‘best consideration’ for council tax payers and the local community. However, local councillor Reg Barry said he has seen the figures and there were six or seven potential purchasers, he accused the IW Council of simply going for the biggest number of houses and the highest price.
During a recent Zoom meeting, the Isle of Wight Council was accused of carrying out a tick box exercise and not listening to the community, with communication being one way, ‘as it always is’. A representative of Nettlestone Residents’ Association said they had sent a letter asking for details of a claim that 567 affordable homes were needed for Nettlestone alone which had not been answered. Concerns were also raised that so many houses are likely to be built in the local area that the north east Wight would be ‘urbanised’, destroying tourism.
Council leader Dave Stewart, cabinet member for housing Barry Abraham, and the IW Council’s head of regeneration Chris Ashman responded that there was a ‘desperate’ need for social housing for Islanders but that no planning proposal had yet been submitted for this site, when precise housing numbers, education provision, access to healthcare and other issues would be considered. They also said that tourism was a major consideration, whilst Cllr. Abraham said the council is ‘tied down’ by government policies they disagree with.
Barry Elliott, chairman of the parish council, said: “We wanted to ensure the views of the residents and the community are heard in this process and are very concerned about the implications of what is being proposed by the IW Council.
“Although we welcome the March question and answer session with the leader of the council, this should have happened earlier, and we should have been more involved. The implications of what is being proposed are significant and could have negative consequences for this and neighbouring areas.”