Two years of regeneration

Reniera O'Donnell

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

It’s been two years since the Council made the brave decision to establish a regeneration team. It was daunting for me; coming in to help create a new department and kick start a programme that was tasked with plugging the big black (or is that red?) money hole. So I am indulging in a bit of a reflection on where we have gotten to thus far.

For me, the biggest change has been the rising enthusiasm both locally and from future investors and partners about the Island. The number of bids we got for taking forward the Newport Harbour masterplan was an indication that the wider development world is interested in our little Island. As well as this house prices in Ryde over the past year have seen highest rise in the country! Add to this the expansion of MHI Vestas with hundreds of new jobs; the investment going in to some of our hotels (the Priory Bay as an example); and the success of smaller businesses like Wyatt & Jack and Russell Ince’s Christmas Imaginarium and you start to see that the things are definitely shifting.

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Victoria regenerated

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

Reniera ODonnellNearly twenty years ago I arrived in the UK. My first foray into the world of local government was at Westminster City Council. You might not know the area, but  Westminster City Hall is down Victoria Street which, back then, was uninspiring and full of rather rubbish shops and drab offices. House of Fraser (or Army and Navy as it was then known) was about the only ‘brand’ on the strip.

Today, for the first time in a few years, I arrived once again at Victoria Station to attend a meeting at the Local Government Association. So I walked down Victoria Street, passing old haunts and trying to remember what the place looked like back then. Continue reading