COWES Harbour Commission (CHC) has again issued a stark warning that the ship building and repair industry on the Island could die if controversial plans to redevelop Medina Yard go ahead in their current form.

Commissioners are urging plans to be put in place for alternative marine employment facilities, or there is an imminent risk that marine firms and jobs will move to the mainland.

As previously reported, plans for a radical re-shaping of the Medina Yard site in Cowes, which includes hundreds of homes, are set to be discussed by planning bosses on March 27

The huge redevelopment will provide up to 535 residential units and up to 18,630 square metres of space for businesses, as well as new public space if the scheme is given the green light by members of the IW Council's planning committee.

Other works will include landscaping, the re-construction of the sea wall and a new public slipway. Planning officers are recommending the conditional approval of the scheme.

Some buildings on the site, including part of the former J.Samuel White building, will be knocked-down during the controversial redevelopment project of the 5.5 hectare site which has attracted 98 objections.

Cowes Town Council has also criticised the loss of employment land at the site and has also said it is 'critical' that deep water access to the River Medina is retained.

The first stage of the project, for which full planning permission is sought, would see up to 256 residential units built and up to 460 square metres of retail, financial and food and drink outlets created.

There would also be up to 242 basement car parking spaces created and up to 287 cycle parking spaces created, together with access to new public routes, a piazza and landscaping, as well as refurbishment of the former J. Samuel White offices and the town's iconic Hammerhead Crane.

Outline planning permission is also sought for a further 279 residential units, up to 631 square metres of retail, financial and food and drink space and up to 616 square metres of space for public/museum use.

There would also be marine training accommodation and up to 14,549 square metres of marine industrial space in the second phase.

In its newsletter for this month, the commission said: "Any decision on this site and application will have a significant impact on the long-term prosperity of the harbour and serious knock on effects for the Island's marine industry and jobs."