PLANS for a waterfront culture centre in East Cowes will not displace marine business, campaigners have said.

The East Cowes Arts and Culture Group (ECACG) is currently looking for support from the Isle of Wight Council, to enable it to approach the V&A and other international galleries and museums.

The plans could see the Columbine site transformed into a gallery similar to the newly opened Tate Dundee and Turner Gallery Margate.

But the chief executive of Wight Shipyard, Peter Morton, said the idea was ‘absolutely ridiculous’ as it would displace the marine industry based at the site.

He yesterday (Tuesday) branded the idea as one made up by ‘harebrained do-gooders.’

Today (Wednesday), however, the ECACG’s Sharon Lake said the scheme was only being suggested as a viable alternative to housing, should the marine industry move off the site in the future.

Ms Lake said: “Mr Morton has voiced publicly the site is now too small for his needs and our concern is that, if this business moves out, rather than look for an alternative tenant the council will look to maximise profits for the site and look to build on it.”

She said the building had been added to the brownfield site register, which could see it changed to residential use. The plans to build a culture centre would only be applicable in the long term.

Ms Lake agreed the Kingston site was not suitable for marine industry due to the lack of deep water access.

She said: “I am equally frustrated there is no real employment strategy for these businesses. They have been treated appallingly and have survived through that and I hope they have many more successful and productive years at the Columbine.”