Pic: Jack Shirley

Isle of Wight councillors have unanimously voted to push forward with plans to purchase East Cowes’ historic Columbine site.

At a meeting tonight (Thursday), Cabinet members agreed that negotiations to buy the site – known for its iconic Union flag frontage – should continue.

As previously reported by Isle of Wight Radio, it wants to purchase it from Homes England, as well as three other nearby sites for potential regeneration.

When asked, the Isle of Wight Council would not reveal how much it intends to buy the land for – but delegated powers to approve it have now been given to Cabinet members and directors.

The council says it hopes that any deal would maintain marine and associated industries at Columbine – securing employment opportunities for East Cowes and the Island.

It wants to potentially redevelop the Victoria Barracks site for leisure and public realm use, and the Albany and Maresfield Road sites for housing.

Councillor Wayne Whittle, Cabinet member for regeneration and business development, said:

“I hope businesses and the community will recognise we want to acquire these sites for the long-term benefit of East Cowes and the Isle of Wight, and that they will be encouraged to invest in the area on the back of the certainty we can offer.

“It will also give us an opportunity to work with the local community and complete the regeneration of the area for the good of all.”

The sites are collectively known as Venture Quays – and as well as Columbine, include the Victoria Barracks building, the Albany warehouse, and a Maresfield Road site currently used for car parking.

The purchase would be paid for using regeneration funds, approved by the council in its budget for 2019/20, but is subject to being able to agree a purchase price with Homes England.