A ‘Port Master Plan’ for Cowes, that aims to address harbour and marine stakeholder development issues, is being proposed by Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) and major stakeholders following extensive consultation.
Cowes Harbour is renowned as the maritime gateway to the Isle of Wight and is a major contributor to the economy of the whole Island.
A key objective in CHC’s Strategic Plan for 2016-21 is the development of a stakeholder driven ‘Port Master Plan’. This is in direct response to feedback from stakeholders on the need for a strategic harbour and marine services development plan, based on the current and future requirements of stakeholders, including commercial and leisure harbour users, and the local community.
The Commission’s objective proposes the agreement of a: “Port Master Plan that identifies current and long-term growth strategies to future-proof the port’s infrastructure and services whilst complementing the wider, local and regional plans and policies.”
Recent meetings between CHC and key stakeholders involved in the East Cowes Development have highlighted that progress on individual development plans is being frustrated by competing or perceived competing interests, including such issues as: land use, investment and grant funding, and delivery timescales. However, informal discussions have demonstrated that there is alignment on a number of high-level strategic objectives and agreement that the principle of a ‘Port Master Plan’ could assist in the successful delivery of the East Cowes Development.
Due to the current situation and time pressures on the East Cowes Development, it is therefore proposed that an East Cowes Marine Plan (ECMP) is prioritised but set within over-arching primary objectives that are complementary to the overall ‘Port Master Plan’.
The delivery of an East Cowes Marine Plan could include the establishment of a Cowes Marine Park (CMP) on the site previously known as Kingston Marine Park, with land and buildings under the ownership of the Isle of Wight Council and leased to marine industries. In addition, the ECMP would look to progress the development of the VQEL Victoria Quay marina on the northern part of Venture Quays as per current planning permission, and the new Red Funnel ‘main’ scheme on the Seaholme Yard area of Venture Quays.
Harbour stakeholders have suggested a number of high-level strategic objectives for the proposed ECMP and Port Master Plan:
• To deliver marine elements of the ECMP and Cowes Outer Harbour Project.
• To create a world-class marine manufacturing and services hub in Cowes.
• To facilitate development of a fit-for-purpose ferry terminal in East Cowes to benefit the entire Island.
• To facilitate the development of a new marina and associated facilities on the Venture Quays site.
• To expand the established boat building and marine service skills on the Island and create highly skilled marine employment opportunities.
• To support training and apprenticeship opportunities for young people to enter the marine manufacturing industry.
• To support and facilitate the retention of commercial wharfs and deep water marine sites for the import and export of bulk commodities.
• To promote and facilitate investment into the Cowes marine sector.
• To further enhance the standing of Cowes as a world-class yachting location.
Consultations between the major harbour stakeholders and interested parties will continue on the requirements, principles, objectives, and funding requirements for a Port Master Plan and complementary East Cowes Marine Plan, with the intention of agreeing a draft timeline and way forward.