Property development next to primary school rejected by Council

A DEVELOPMENT of 25 houses — some affordable — next to a primary school in East Cowes has been rejected by the Isle of Wight Council.

The houses on Millfield Avenue were proposed by Vail Williams, on behalf of Sisters for Christ, the community of nuns that used to live in the Springhill Convent.

Some land and the convent building, was sold by Sisters for Christ in 2016 — however the proposed development is being built on mostly greenfields, which is the last bit of land the Sisters own.

A design and access statement in the application to the Isle of Wight Council said the work would ‘create an attractive, walkable residential development’.

Outline plans were for up to 25 properties, ranging from one to four bedrooms, with nine being affordable.

These plans have now been refused by the Isle of Wight Council’s planning officers after more than 25 public objections to the application.

Holy Cross Catholic Primary School buildings were safe from development but half of the car park, land on loan from the Sisters for Christ, would be built on.

Governors from the school said they did not accept proposals which further reduced the safety of pupils and failed to ensure highway safety was not compromised.

“Any increase to traffic using Millfield Avenue will intensify what is already a problematic area, with a great cause for concern for parents, staff and governors,” they said.

Millfield Avenue Residents Association said the development was inappropriate for the area and will result in prime open greenfield land being lost to future generations forever.

Other public objections related to the infrastructure in East Cowes, traffic concerns, lack of pedestrian links and access onto Millfield Avenue from Old Road, which has limited visibility.

In a letter refusing the outline planning permission, council planning officers listed eight reasons why the development could not go ahead, which include considerations that the proposal would fail to meet the affordable housing policy of the Island Plan Core Strategy.

Reasons also covered the significant increase in traffic, loss of car parking provision, the potential adverse impacts to protected species and their habitats and would result in the partial loss of, and harm to, a locally listed heritage asset, and would be a visually intrusive development.

Isle of Wight Council member for East Cowes, Cllr Karl Love, who had urged residents to comment on the application, thanked those who did.

He said: “This is definitely a good decision for democracy and the right decision — the contributions which local people made to the planning office in their comments are based on sound ethical and moral considerations.

“It brings a sense of relief to many of those people living in and around East Cowes and especially down old road.

“Many of us residents simply do not understand why this area of Spring Hill is not contained within the area of outstanding natural beauty because it clearly is a special area and place.

“It full of rare wildlife and directly next to Norris Castle which has the highest of protection order listings.

“We must protect our green spaces and rare wildlife and so this is a positive outcome for our environment and ecology.”

The applicants have 28 days, or until June 9, to appeal the council’s decision.