Contractors have begun preparing the iconic Columbine Building in East Cowes for the start of a major investment from the Isle of Wight Council supported by the government’s levelling up fund.
Island-based design consultants ERMC and contractors MCM Construction met Isle of Wight Council officials on site to agree the start of the first big phase of works to the building.
This is expected to see the whole south elevation of the structure restored and weatherproofed as part of the council’s plans to create more working space and jobs in and around the East Cowes Marine Hub.
Once the windows and sidewall are restored, two whole internal floors of the historic building will be accessible again.
The next phase of the works will be to refurbish the newly-accessible working spaces inside which are currently out of use.
Starting in March, the first phase of restoration work is expected to finish later this summer, with the internal refurbishment phase coming soon afterwards.
Meanwhile, the main tenant of the building, Wight Shipyard Company, has commenced piling works in the nearby harbour to create a new marine hoist dock.
This will allow the company to work on larger vessels, delivering the next generation of sustainable high-speed ferries and crew transfer boats, as well as being available to other marine engineering businesses.
Anyone using the harbour recently will have noticed the large piling vessel working outside the famous Union Flag doors as the new hoist area is created.
The new structure, supported through the government’s levelling up fund, is likely to be completed in summer 2022.
Councillor Julie Jones-Evans said: “Our ambitious regeneration package attracted £5.8 million support from the government levelling up fund.
“Getting this funding means a lot to the Isle of Wight, and now we can actually see regeneration work going on at this historic location there’s no doubt that real benefits are coming to the area.
“Seeing this project commence in East Cowes is so exciting, giving renewed confidence for the vital marine industry, providing jobs and skills for a new generation at the East Cowes Marine Hub, and bringing more prosperity and success to the whole Island.”