We have a (draft) strategy!

By Reniera O’Donnell, assistant director of regeneration, Isle of Wight Council.

Reniera ODonnellLast week we held our second annual regeneration conference. We opted for a smaller venue this year and chose to hold it at Lakeside in Wootton. To our utter amazement it was completely booked out about 2 weeks in advance and we even ran a waiting list on the day. This is all great news. Word is getting out that stuff is happening and people want to know about it and get involved.

The main objective of the event was to launch our draft regeneration strategy. Yes, we have finally put into one document the aims, objectives and ambitions for the programme and now need people to let us know what they think. I am almost 100 per cent  certain, we haven’t gotten it all right yet! So far, it has been positively received. In the words of ‘onthewight’ – “It’s a long read, but comprehensive and worth working your way through if you have an interest in any regeneration plans”. The strategy is available online through our website  where you can also download a PDF copy. Please let us know what you think and stay engaged!

Launching the draft strategy wasn’t the only feature of the event. We got to hear from some of our key partners on the Island about their exciting plans for the future. Wightlink, Island Line, Wightfibre, the Chamber of Commerce and Hose Rhodes Dickson all gave their take on what regeneration means for the Island and how they are working to deliver this. What is exciting is how everyone is starting to come together to understand the need for economic regeneration and a change in direction for the Island as a whole.

I gave an update on what the regeneration team has been up to over the past year and while I recognise readers won’t get the full picture from the slides, I have included my presentation as a PDF download in case anyone wants to look at it. It’s been a really busy year and some noticeable achievements have been in taking forward the employment land at Nicholson Road in Ryde (expect to see a planning application in January 2019!) and bringing on board a masterplan team to look at the future of Newport Harbour. We are still in the middle of selecting the team but the interest shown was astounding. It is also good to be able to say we have done a lot of work to engage with residents and businesses on the Island. The Shaping Newport work has created a blueprint for our County Town and in September, a new Town Centre Manager will be coming on board to make those ambitions a reality.

But, the best part of the day was awarding Taylor Millford from the Island Free School, the overall winner of the Young Designer Award for 2018 for her Medina Quay Under Sea bridge design.

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Medina Quay Under Sea

Taylor’s concept for a future crossing of the Medina river is a sensory experience inspired by young, disabled people on the Island. Her design will inspire a future pedestrian crossing as the plans for the site progress. Her model is on display as part of an exciting architectural exhibition in 30 High Street Newport until 30 July 2018 which also features work by the University of Portsmouth students on a number of our key sites. Come on down and see us for a bit of inspiring design!

Have a listen to a podcast by Walter Menteth which describes the Portsmouth School of Architecture Master’s students work on our regeneration sites.

A festival for the environment?

By Reniera O’Donnell, assistant director of regeneration, Isle of Wight Council.

Reniera ODonnellWhat an amazing festival weekend the Island had! Showcased in all its sunny glory, the Isle of Wight gave the festival-goers a real treat. This was my second festival and it really was great fun. It got me thinking though. There we were, enjoying some fantastic music and great atmosphere, whilst watching the ground get more and more littered with plastic and rubbish. People were letting balloons fly free, and any wildlife stood no chance of surviving the footfall of tens of thousands of happy humans. The fact that I was also a keynote speaker at the Environment conference on Tuesday made the realities of the environmental impact of us humans even more stark. Continue reading

How the Island’s young people are getting involved

By Reniera O’Donnell, assistant director of regeneration, Isle of Wight Council. 

One of the best aspects of my job is that I get to work with some of our amazing young people on the Island. Let’s be honest, it’s been a few years (one or two really!) since I was a teenager and today’s young people find themselves in a very different world to the one I grew up in so, I find it quite hard to find common ground and work out how to appear even remotely cool (I don’t) when spending time with them. Continue reading

Ryde tells us

Reniera ODonnell headshot 800pxI won’t lie, last week’s event at Ryde Castle was a tough gig. It’s daunting standing up in front of over 140 people who are so passionate about their seafront and don’t like the options we’ve looked at so far! But I came away with a much deeper understanding of what changes residents want and don’t want on Ryde esplanade – and hopefully we’ve got a wider group of people who want to stay involved. Continue reading

The positive army

I have been meaning to start this blog for months. Nine months into my role as Assistant Director Regeneration, it’s probably about time to share some thoughts on what we are aiming to achieve.

Reniera presenting the Regeneration Programme at the launch event in July 2017

Introductions first. I am Reniera, the new Assistant Director Regeneration at the Isle of Wight Council. I moved to the Island in 2015 and live in Ryde with my husband, three children, two cats and four fish. I love everything about life on the Isle of Wight and am so excited to be part of the team spear-heading the changes this Island needs to keep moving forward.

In July, we held a really successful launch event that was attended by over 130 people and even drew in some mainland investors. It was brilliant to be sharing the podium with some inspirational speakers and sharing the Council’s ambitions for regenerating the Island’s economy. Continue reading