A major step forward in transferring the ownership of Ryde Harbour to Ryde Town Council (RTC) took place last week when the Isle of Wight Council’s (IWC) cabinet agreed to treat the RTC as a ‘special purchaser’.
The legal agreement, transferring the freehold ownership of the 150-berth harbour and two adjoining plots of land on a leasehold basis, should now be a formality, although some details of the lease have yet to be agreed.
RTC’s business case includes substantial investment over the next three years, improving the harbour to make it a more attractive proposition to berth holders and visitors alike. A new harbour-master’s office will be built on the leasehold land and improved facilities provided.
Dredging is planned to improve access, dependent on licences being obtained. The harbour is in a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with restrictions on sand removal.
Speaking after the meeting which agreed the town council’s interest in the harbour, Cllr Phil Jordan, who has led on negotiations for two years, said: “I’m really pleased with the outcome. It has been worth all the hard work. I thank the IWC and the incredible staff at RTC who have worked positively to deliver this fantastic arrangement for the community and to help us breathe new life into an important asset for Ryde.”
Two years ago, IWC’s cabinet was set to approve the sale to a private company, when Cllr Michael Lilley called in the sale to the corporate scrutiny meeting. Plans to dispose of the harbour into private ownership were then withdrawn and RTC approached IWC with their own plans for the harbour.
Cllr Lilley, Mayor of Ryde, described the decision as ‘an historic event which will benefit the town for generations to come’. He said: “Having prevented the harbour from going from public ownership, RTC were then able to step up as potential buyers and negotiate with IWC. There are many people to thank, but I make note that especially Cllr Phil Jordan and RTC staff have worked tirelessly to bring home a fantastic opportunity for the harbour and for Ryde.”
RTC have asked the IWC for a licence to operate the harbour with immediate effect whilst legal documents are agreed and exchanged.
Cllr Jordan added: “Look out for some fantastic events in and around the Ryde Harbour later this year.”