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News - 03/07/14

Consultation on the Medina Valley Plan

At their June meeting, the Board of Cowes Harbour Commissioners (CHC) considered a report and recommendations in respect to the Isle of Wight Council’s consultation on the draft Medina Area Action Plan, which has a closing date for consultation of 7th July 2014. 

The following article highlights the areas in the Medina Valley Plan that are relevant to CHC’s area of responsibilities and jurisdiction, and appropriate for Cowes Harbour Commission, as the statutory harbour authority, to comment on. 

The complete consultation paper is available to view on the Isle of Wight Council’s website: 
• Area Action Plan – The Medina Valley Plan 

Question 4 
What are your views on how the council should approach the size of sites that it allocates in the Medina Valley Plan? 

1.15 With this in mind we have to consider where, in each of the main settlements, the broad areas of growth should be. Our initial view is that the broad areas for new housing development should be:

• To the west of Newport (whilst supporting wherever possible the use of available brownfield land in the town, which includes available Prison Estate land)

• To support the redevelopment of Medina Yard in Cowes whilst recognising that additional land may be required to meet locally identified housing need

• To support other brownfield redevelopment opportunities such as the SARO site (next to the Folly Inn) that bring forward vacant and/or derelict land

CHC comment:
Medina Yard has an important waterfront, slipways and boat hoist, giving access from a key marine employment area directly to a naturally self-maintaining, relatively deep water river frontage. CHC considers that this site should be preserved for employment use which requires or benefits from all states of tide water access.

Question 14
Should we protect employment sites with water access, to make sure they are not lost to other uses?

7. Identify employment sites with water access to ensure that appropriate access is maintained for employment uses that require water access

7.1 Waterfront sites are very important to the Island and its economy because they provide employment opportunities and transportation infrastructure (mainly relating to the import / export of goods, materials and waste).

7.2 Whilst there are other navigable rivers on the Island that provide some level of marine-related employment, we think the River Medina provides the main potential to meet any existing and future demand for waterfront access from employment uses.

7.3 We’ve undertaken work that has identified a range of employment sites with water access. It also identified that the chain ferry restricts the size of craft that can enter/exit the River Medina and significantly the evidence suggested a cut-off point between Medina Wharf and RWE Kingston Oil Depot.

7.4 Sites to the north of this line maintain water access throughout the tidal range and therefore would be the best sites for providing and/or maintaining employment sites with water access. This ‘cut off point’ is shown in the map on the next page.

CHC comment:
CHC agrees with these policy statements. The Isle of Wight Council’s proposed policy in section 7 contradicts the recommendation in 1.15 to support the housing redevelopment of Medina Yard. The policy statements in section 7 support CHC’s view on the importance of maintaining Medina Yard for employment land needing water access.

Question 34
Do you think the council should use its resources to further explore whether such a bridge is feasible?

Medina Crossing
14.5 We have considered options to construct a bridge crossing the River Medina to the north of Newport in the past. A number of routes were considered at the time, and the options assessed and discounted on environmental and cost reasons.

14.6 The idea of a bridge was raised again in the examination into the Core Strategy. It was suggested to us that a low level opening bridge that linked into the existing highway network in the vicinity of Stag Lane and the Racecourse Roundabout could be feasible. To fund such a bridge, a significant amount of enabling residential development (that could still contribute to the housing target for the Medina Valley) would be needed, as we have no funds to deliver it and we think that such a proposal would be unlikely to qualify for central government funding.

CHC comment:
This is probably outside CHC jurisdiction to comment, however, if further reviews are undertaken the issues of navigation and marine access need to be an integral part of any review.

Question 35
Do you agree that there should be a Floating Bridge between Cowes and East Cowes? What are your views on the importance of a pedestrian and vehicle link across the River Medina between Cowes and East Cowes?

The Floating Bridge
14.7 The floating bridge chain ferry operates between Cowes and East Cowes. Over 40 years old, the craft is nearing the end of its operational life and must be replaced within the next few years. As we think it’s an essential transport connection linking the two towns, we are seeking funding to replace the floating bridge as part of a joint bid with Southampton City Council and others.

CHC comment:
A direct pedestrian and vehicle access between East Cowes and Cowes is considered essential to the long-term prosperity and growth of both towns. The renewal and upgrade of the floating bridge is probably the most current viable option. The impact on navigation, however, needs to be carefully reviewed in any replacement proposals and CHC consulted as the harbour authority.

Question 37
15. Establish whether a plan-led, viable and deliverable solution can be identified to address the capacity issues at East Cowes ferry terminal

15.1 Developed and expanded around its original location at the head of the River Medina in East Cowes, the ferry terminal and marshalling areas now operate from a number of prominent sites within the town centre.

15.2 A part of a master planning project promoted by the then Economic Development Agency (SEEDA) involving the ferry operator, council and others, it is considered that the relocation of the ferry terminal and marshalling area onto one site would improve local traffic movements and release some current town centre land for beneficial development.

CHC comment:
As the statutory harbour authority, CHC would wish to be consulted on matters impacting water access or traffic.

Question 39
Do you support the improvements planned for East Cowes?

15.6 The current “Union Jack” building (Columbine Works) could be retained as part of the project as an iconic building. We think that there are likely to be a number of opportunities for the building and we would like to see future uses that contribute to the wider economy and visitor experience for East Cowes, and to compliment the proposed leisure and marina uses.

15.7 We don’t think that having dedicated employment uses, such as manufacturing would necessarily be appropriate because of how the building sits in relation to the proposed regeneration programme.

15.8 The kind of uses we would like to see are uses such as an exhibition space, a museum (to house existing facilities or new ones), restaurant(s), market halls. We want to see uses that bring people in and open up the area for tourism.

CHC comment:
The Union Jack building benefits from a prime waterfront site with good water access.The asset of good water access should be maximised either for marine/visitor development or marine employment opportunities.