The concept plans for the proposed Nicholson Road Business Park was discussed by stakeholders at an event held by the Isle of Wight Council, on 12 March 2018. The council was seeking input and ideas from those with an interest in the area, to feed into the developing proposals for the land.
This page gives a summary of the event, some plans and a selection of information about topics and questions discussed on the day.
Richard Berry (Programme Manager Regeneration Delivery) introduced the IWC representatives who were present at the meeting, including Councillor Wayne Whittle (Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Business Development) and Reniera O’Donnell (Assistant Director of Regeneration). Richard explained that the Regeneration programme was developed in 2016, after the IW Council recognised that it needed to do more than solely cut budgets to address financial challenges.
Richard introduced the 7 key principles of the Regeneration programme: physical regeneration; skills and business development; infrastructure; meeting housing needs; using public sector assets as pump primers; area regeneration, and communication and engagement.
So far, RcKA (award winning architects) have been procured to produce concept designs and options and the council budget has agreed funding to help unlock the site. The preferred option is estimated to generate £1m in business rates per annum and create 776 long-term jobs. This development would be a mixed use site, potentially with a community hub at the heart of the site in addition to industrial units.
Q: Is there a set time frame?
A: The Isle of Wight Council have got the capital funding, and hope to start work on the infrastructure network by this time next year.
Q: IOW distillery has nowhere to expand into currently- urgently need to expand into a site and then further expand the following year.
A: While the development of the business park may not benefit IOW distillery immediately, IWC recognises that the needs of the IOW Distillery are urgent and hopefully as the development rolls out, it will meet the business’ expansion needs.
Q: Are you going to sell plots off?
A: Preferably not. Currently the Isle of Wight Council is looking to lease out the plots as there are viability issues on the site. However, IWC will look at whether certain parts of the sites need to be sold off, and if this is the case, then IWC will look at selling them. Through stakeholder engagement, stakeholder requirements can be identified and used to determine the masterplan.
The first and preferred option would be to build and lease, generating revenue. Another option is to lease as a longer term lease for businesses to build their own development. The third option would be to sell plots on the site. We have got the funding for infrastructure so over the next 12 months, we need to nail down the requirements so that we can build a financial model.
Q: Were there plans for housing on the site?
A: Originally, IWC needed the neighbouring housing to generate revenue for the development. However, IWC are currently looking at having the development without residential, though viability issues will determine whether or not housing does need to be put in. IWC will look to identify how work that has already been done can be reshaped.
Q: What happens if the council build on a few plots and then run out of money?
A: There is significant demand, but not for the whole site in one go. Lots of people currently come to the Isle of Wight Council for large pieces of land for service as there is nowhere else. The plan is to service the whole site so that these opportunities do not have to be turned down in the future. IWC plan to landscape the site better- for example, there is lots of unusable green space which IWC will look to turn into useable green space.
Q: So are the council just going to plant bushes after the money runs out?
A: IWC are looking at how much of the funding the council wants to take on itself. The council are looking to identify an investment and development partner to help with capital. In the future, plots could stay with investment partner for lease or sell. It is anticipated that people will want to move on to the site as it grows and develops.
The Isle of Wight Council is putting 1.8m into infrastructure. Tenants on the site will then generate more money for infrastructure so the process should just roll along. Many firms (large and small) approach the council asking for industrial units as there is nowhere to go. IWC need to identify the needs for the development locally so that the site can be developed in stages and meet these requirements.
Q: What will happen regarding roadworks for the development?
A: There has been discussion between developers about how to bring the roadworks forwards. If the Pennyfeathers development does not happen, IWC will look at roadworks by alternative developers to decide the best possible way of unlocking junctions. IWC has already commissioned work to look at these junctions and whether IWC can reshape some of the Pennyfeathers plan. If the Pennyfeathers plan does not happen in advance of the Nicholson Road development, IWC will have to look at how best to fund the necessary road works to unlock all the developments in the East Ryde area.
Q: Where does the community hub and health centre come in terms of priority- is incorporating a surgery an idea that might be here today and gone the next?
A: Pennyfeathers is expected to bring 600 to 900 homes and the Rosemary Vineyard site is also anticipated to bring a substantial number of homes. The Council have been approached with the need to redefine health services in Ryde e.g. GP surgeries have come to the council with the requirement. The current business park has a number of community facilities which bring people to an industrial park, such as a day nursey, a fire station, a post office etc. so IWC want to look at how this can be recreated over the other side. People have approached the council wanting social enterprise and services that support ‘My Life a Full Life’ etc. There is a need for a community hub and IWC see it as a real positive, and a way to reshape the current site.
The initial idea started from a community hub and grew from there- if there is a need for a service in Ryde, the more that is put in to meet these needs, the less reason there is for residents to have to go to Newport, improving the traffic issue down Fairlee Road. IWC is not closing the door on anything.
Q: Surely the infrastructure/ design/ users/ effect on the traffic will depend on what you build first- industrial units or a doctors’ surgery?
A: IWC intend to service the whole site from day 1 and shape it in any way that the demand requires. There are many positives of the site- e.g. the hedgerows are protected and provide opportunities to hide the warehouses and do really interesting things with the design.
Q: Does the Pennyfeathers plan have any other allocated areas for surgeries etc. to support it?
A: Things have moved on since the initial Pennyfeathers application- IWC will look at ways that they can work together. If the Nicholson Road development comes forward before the Pennyfeathers development, IWC will look to get things on site that will be beneficial to the community rather than duplicating services across the sites.
The group were asked for their views and feedback on the concept and design.
Feedback from the task:
- The key priorities of the development should be: helping small businesses to grow and develop, and commitment to dates to enable business planning going forward. Incentives for businesses- rent free periods? There is a need for small, starter units.
- Parking; train station; mix of units
- Isle of Wight Distillery is looking to expand by August 2018- start one size and get bigger the next. Gin Distillery 2500 sq ft Phase 1, 5000 overall.
- LoCal 14000 sq ft.
- The development needs small starter units and as the site grows, another access? Look at transport model- how much traffic can come through the one access?
- There is a demand for ownership of plots too, rather than lease only.
- It is encouraging that stakeholders are given the opportunity to give input on the concept and design.
- Foot access from main road.
- Community hub in plots C022 and C021 instead?
It was agreed that although it may be less viable for IWC in the short term, there is now a recognised demand for a mixed approach in relation to whether plots are leased or sold and IWC will take this on board. IWC will keep stakeholders informed as the business case moves on.