ALMOST 58 per cent of people who took part in the Isle of Wight Council's Undercliff Drive survey said they were in favour of reopening the road.

The survey, carried out in the summer, was completed by 771 people — 621 of whom were Isle of Wight residents. Sixty-three per cent gave a Ventnor PO38 postcode.

Undercliff Drive was closed following significant landslips in 2014, cutting off access to the nine houses on the road.

In 2016, access was restored to the properties, along with through-access for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

However, the road remains closed to traffic.

Those who supported reinstating the road said it would benefit tourism and be more convenient for drivers. They also said Undercliff Drive was a key route and should be accessible.

However, those against the idea said it would cost too much and raised concerns about future landslips — which would only put the road at risk again. Concerns were also raised about the impact on the environment.

Following a vote, Ventnor Town Council said it was against reopening the road. It raised concerns about the absence of a risk assessment, the financial difficulties facing the council and the possibility of recurring landslips.

The area has been prone to landslips for the past 200 years, and subjected to regular ground movement due to long periods of rainfall — particularly during the winter.

Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart said: “We fully appreciate some local residents do have legitimate concerns of which we will be mindful.

“My view is it cannot be beyond our engineering capability to find a way to remedy a landslip of less than 100 metres.

“We have houses and businesses spread along the length of the Undercliff but the economic damage of the closure has spread well beyond these areas with businesses as far away as the West Wight also noticing a drop in trade and tourism following the closure.”

Bournemouth University was commissioned by the council in 2017 to assess the impact of the road closure on local businesses. It estimated it cost them, and people living at Undercliff Drive, £1.4 million a year — including £327,524 per year in the extra time and fuel costs associated with finding alternative routes.

Topographic surveys, ground investigation boreholes, a stability analysis and an environmental impact assessments would all have to be carried out before work would get under way — costing £200,000.

To re-instate the road would cost an estimated £1 million to £2 million, depending on whether it would be open for one or two-way traffic and restricted to vehicles below a certain weight.