NEWS: SEEDA’s plans are central to on-going development of the Cowes Outer Harbour Project

NEWS RELEASE

Issued: 18 August 2010

by: Peta Stuart-Hunt CHC Communications Officer T: +44 (0) 1590 679 621 | M: +44 (0) 7711 477 707

COWES OUTER HARBOUR PROJECT UPDATE

SEEDA’s plans are central to on-going development of the OHP

In July 2009, SEEDA submitted a planning application to the Isle of Wight Council for the Cowes Outer Harbour Project (OHP), the next phase in the East Cowes Regeneration Project.

Over the past year SEEDA has been working closely with the Isle of Wight Council and with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in addition to other consultees, in order to address various issues that have been raised. These included extensive modelling by marine experts on the tidal impact in the harbour and the Medina River. The MMO has now determined the relevant Environmental Impact Assessment Decision and issued Consents in relation to all marine issues. Only the Planning Application for the terrestrial elements remains outstanding.

A revised application was submitted by SEEDA for the provision of a 60-bed hotel along with commercial uses rather than residential, the aim being to bring life back to the town and provide active areas that locals and visitors to the Island can enjoy. The Isle of Wight Council is currently considering these final amendments to the scheme with a view to presenting the application to the Planning Committee in September.

It is important to note that this planning application relates solely to the provision of a Marina along with a 60-bed hotel, 12 town houses and a small element of supporting commercial floor space. The implications in relation to traffic movements from these uses would be minimal. As the various transport assessments submitted in support of this application identifies, there will be no adverse effect on the local transport network as a result of this proposed development.

Meanwhile, as the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) awaits tender applications from three short listed companies, all keen to win the contract to help develop the Outer Harbour Project (OHP) and Marina, the team at Cowes Harbour Commission led by its newly elected Chairman, Roger Mathias, remains upbeat and positive.

Roger Mathias is keen to dispel any fears about the development plans going ahead and instead wants to encourage everyone to more fully appreciate the numerous benefits that the OHP will have on Cowes, and on East Cowes in particular. The Applications from Marina Developments Limited, Premier Marinas and Sutton Harbour Holdings have to be in by mid-September.

CHC is fully supportive of the plans to regenerate East Cowes as part of the Cowes Waterfront Initiative, with Roger Mathias commenting:

The Cowes Harbour Commissioners are unanimous in their support for the Outer Harbour Plan. Cowes is an exposed harbour to the north and northeast and there has been an ambition to provide protection for many years. Financially this has not been possible. With CHC working in partnership with SEEDA, the partnership of the OHP and East Cowes Regeneration Plan provides the financial vehicle to realise this long-needed improved protection.

This will transform Cowes into a sheltered harbour protecting harbour users and improving safety. It will release potential for business diversity and waterborne activities for the wider communities. We strongly believe this to be the most important single event in the future development of the harbour, bringing significant benefit to the West and East Cowes communities.”

There are many positive benefits to East Cowes, including:

•       The creation of a public landing pontoon and mooring facility with associated amenities for  visiting yachts will all help to encourage more visitors to East Cowes.

•       A marina that will be better suited to big boat events and will link to the uses on the waterfront, further opening up this area and making it an attractive place for both locals and visitors to use.

•       The provision of the marina to help to boost visitors to the Town of East Cowes, encouraging people to visit shops, pubs and restaurants as well as existing tourist facilities such as Osborne House.

•       A study by the Southern Tourist Board in 2000 calculated the value and economic benefit of yachting tourism to Cowes. It found the total spend of visiting boaters amounted to in excess of £20m and the average spend per head of visiting yachtsmen was £96 per stay.

•       The BMF Economic Benefits of Coastal Marinas suggests the total Gross Value Added of the marina and related employment will exceed £5m.

•       The marina including the other components of the development i.e. hotel and commercial space is estimated to create 55 full time jobs. A further 100 indirect jobs (marine leisure and tourism related) will likely be created as a result of the marina alone.

Cowes Harbour Commission also wants to emphasize that currently, Cowes Harbour is exposed to the wind and open sea conditions which restricts the usability of the Harbour. The provision of a new outer breakwater will improve the wave climate within the Harbour and allow the sailing season to be extended, further enhancing the associated economic benefits.

Furthermore, the breakwater will also enhance flood protection to both sides of the Medina estuary whilst the introduction of a second navigation channel (the eastern channel) for recreation craft will reduce pressure on the main channel, improve the conflicts between commercial and recreational navigation and help to enhance overall safety in the Harbour.

– ends –

Notes to Editors

Cowes is a Trust Port constituted by Act of Parliament in 1897 and has a Board of Commissioners with day-to-day operation delegated to the Harbour Master/Chief Executive to manage the harbour.

Cowes Harbour Commission is the statutory harbour authority for Cowes Harbour. The Commission also provides services and moorings for harbour users on a competitive and commercial basis.

In 2001, CHC carried out significant changes as recommended by the Government in its Trust Ports Review. The aim of the new standard is to ensure that Trust Ports perform a valuable role in support of the local, regional and national economy and provide a benchmark for good governance, accountability, and openness.

The Commission is a self-financing, not for profit organisation that aims to make an operating surplus to reinvest into the continuing development of the harbour and associated services. There are no shareholders or owners and all operating surplus is re-invested back into the harbour for the benefit of the harbour users and stakeholders.

The Commission operates a robust financial management system to provide transparency and accountability in respect of the Commission’s dual functions as the statutory harbour authority and also a service provider. All income and expenditure is budgeted and accounted in five separate ring fenced cost centres which facilitates accurate reporting.

Media Enquiries:

Peta Stuart-Hunt

CHC Communications Officer

M: +44 (0) 7711 477 707

E: peta@prworksuk.com <peta@prworksuk.com>

Cowes Harbour Commission Enquiries:

Captain Stuart McIntosh

Harbour Master and Chief Executive of Cowes Harbour Commission

Harbour Office

T: +44 (0) 1983 293 952

E: chc@cowes.co.uk <chc@cowes.co.uk>

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