The Isle of Wight and in particular, the Medina, has long been seen as a home to all things marine: the invention, construction and only remaining operation of the hovercraft, flying boats and more recently cutting edge foot-passenger ferry manufacture has sat alongside the marine leisure offer epitomised by Cowes.
The well paid skilled jobs provided in the marine industry have kept generations of islanders gainfully employed. The council wants to better understand the marine sector on the Island and the challenges it faces. The Isle of Wight Council’s regeneration team has produced a detailed report on the Medina Valley, focussing on the Marine and Composites Sector.
The report will raise the profile of the island contribution to a key sector of the broader Solent economy now and in the future. It sets out the economic benefits the sector provides and highlights the need for modern manufacturing premise to help its future growth.
Key growth opportunities
The expansion of demand for wind farm service boats in the UK and Europe is highlighted as one of the growth opportunities Island firms could exploit. The study assesses the range of sites available in the Medina Valley for the development of new facilities benchmarking against competitors in Norfolk and Pembrokeshire. The level of skills in the industry that exist on the island is highlighted as key strength.
Seeking government funding
The study recommends the council seek funding to address the infrastructure issues connected with some of the existing and potential sites. The report will be used to support a bid for government funding, as part of the islands recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year the council published its corporate plan and within it made a clear commitment to ensuring that “people have a place to call home and can live with independence”. Following publication of the draft Island Planning Strategy for consultation earlier in 2019, there was, and indeed continues to be, significant concern expressed about the number of homes being planned for the Island.
By Olivia Cortes Watson, college industry placement
Born in Spain in 2000, I moved to the Isle of Wight when I was three. I went to Dover Park Primary School in Ryde and then Ryde Academy to where I completed my GCSEs. Throughout my education I always knew that the travel and tourism industry interested me.
The Isle of Wight is a unique location – ideal to live, work, learn and play! Because it’s a great place to live, it’s also a great place to study. The Island is where you can take education to a higher level; whether you’ve already got a job and want to gain a higher education qualification at the same time; if you want to do a higher level or degree level apprenticeship, or if you want to take a full or part time course.
Thanks to everybody who has been involved in the long public consultation about the proposed new industrial area at Rydes Nicholson Road. We have at last got to the next stage in the proposals, and the first planning applications are now submitted which means you can see the plans and comment on them.
Options under consideration include restaurants, housing, commercial space, new car parking, higher education resources, a rebuild of the existing Riverside Centre, a new hotel and a cultural venue.
The project is intended to increase connectivity to the existing town centre, attract visitors, and ensure the future of the harbour by providing for maintenance and investment in harbour facilities.
The new proposals are mostly on the eastern side of the estuary, keeping the Medina itself available for boats and leaving more commercial functions on the west, including the existing marine and boating activity. The plan aims to keep and reuse buildings where possible, to help conserve and enhance the historic and marine heritage of Newport Quay.
Plans have been drawn up in the light of suggestions from harbour users, residents and businesses, and as a result the new proposals include a smaller residential area as a gateway to the green space, the chance to create places where people can both live and work, and a potential new focus on creative industries.
The proposed lifting bridge is for pedestrians and cyclists, linking Seaclose Park with destinations such as the Isle of Wight College and St Mary’s Hospital, as well as the many shops and businesses at Dodnor. This would be in addition to any possible future vehicle bridge, which is not included in this plan.
The proposals could be adopted as planning policy, which will then be the framework for development over the next 20-25 years with the first projects on the ground in the next two or three years.
By Amy Stubbs, trainee project manager, Isle of Wight Council.
Born at St. Mary’s Hospital in 2000, I have lived on the Isle of Wight all my life. I went to Godshill Primary School and then Christ the King College, where I stayed for both my GCSEs and A-Levels. Throughout my education, I struggled and stressed a lot about what my future looked like. I was surrounded by friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do, and I had no idea. To add to this, living at home with two older sisters who also had their futures planned out, only increased the pressure I was feeling.
By Aaron Wheeldon, Graduate Trainee, Isle of Wight Council.
I was born and raised on this island twenty-one years ago, having attended Somerton Middle and Cowes High School in a bygone era of education. I continued at Cowes as it transitioned into the current Cowes Enterprise College where I studied my A-Levels and became particularly interested in dystopian literature. Eventually, as a result of this growing interest in politics, I chose to study International Relations at the University of Southampton. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science three years later and it came time to pursue a career in the busy (and incredibly competitive) graduate market. I never saw my future on the island – throughout my childhood, it never struck me as an environment for opportunity. However, here I am, as the tide of opportunity turns for the island.
By Gino Wooldridge, Graduate Trainee, Isle of Wight Council.
I have just turned 27 and have always been an Islander, I attended Northwood Primary, Somerton Middle and Cowes High School. After my education on the Island, which focussed on a technical and logical curriculum including ICT and business studies, I went to the University of Southampton to further my interest and skills with a degree in Management (BSc).