Towns must work together with regeneration plans

Historic England has supported the regeneration of Newport, Ryde and East Cowes, but says the towns must work together for it to succeed.

In a report published on Monday (Sept 23), a number of recommendations are made to help restore and build on the Island’s ‘remarkable’ architecture.

This news follows the publication of the Isle of Wight Council’s regeneration strategy, aimed at breathing new life into the Island’s towns and communities, and the announcement that Newport and Ryde are two of 69 towns across the country that have won funding from the Historic High Streets Heritage Action Zones. Ryde has been awarded £480,000 and Newport £700,000.

Members of the Historic Places Panel were invited to the Island in June to offer advice on proposals for the towns as a key focus of regeneration on the Island.

Recommendations for Ryde include the urgent development of a strategy targeting high-profile problem buildings in the town, with top priority given to the town hall, followed by the Royal York Hotel. It is also planned to produce a masterplan for the Esplanade, reducing the amount of traffic, promoting walking and cycling and looking at the possibility of relocating the bus station away from the seafront.

Continual growth of the Medina Valley was a key recommendation for East Cowes regeneration, as well as dealing with the landslip along the Esplanade.

In Newport there is a landscape-led plan for Newport Harbour to be developed, with building repairs carried out along the High Street and the reduction traffic in the town centre.

As a wider issue, the Historic Places Panel pointed out the need for the towns to work together rather than in competition. Panel chair Peter Studdert said: “It was a delightful visit and we were really interested and impressed by how engaged local community groups are with the Isle of Wight Council’s regeneration plans.

“The communities have a vital role to play in helping to shape the Island’s future prospects by working with the council and each other.”

Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Cllr Dave Stewart, said: “Along with our town council partners we are delighted to be able to tap into the expertise available from Historic England in addressing our ambitions for the future of our high streets on the Island.

“The Heritage High Street fund announcement is a major boost to realising the value of the fantastic hidden heritage in Newport and Ryde.”