THE Isle of Wight Council has this afternoon (Thursday) reaffirmed its commitment to protect local jobs and help safeguard the future of ship building on the Isle of Wight by agreeing to proceed to the next stage in purchasing Venture Quays.

Members of the council's cabinet agreed to support the £1.3 million acquisition of East Cowes' historic Columbine site — famous for its huge Union flag doors — subject to contractual agreement.

Investing in the prime waterfront site will not only protect at least 150 marine manufacturing jobs, but preserve key employment land for generations to come.

Council leader Dave Stewart said: "Having completed our financial review following the impact of Covid-19, I am satisfied this acquisition represents significant financial and social value for our Island.

"Many Islanders are already aware of the significant historical background that East Cowes generally, and Venture Quays in particular, has in terms of marine Engineering.

"This is a truly international investment opportunity on the Island for the Island."

The acquisition has been the subject of talks with Homes England since July 2019 and includes three other nearby sites for potential regeneration.

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

By acquiring the sites, the council will be able to maintain marine and associated industries at Columbine and potentially redevelop the Victoria Barracks site for leisure and public realm use, and the Albany and Maresfield Road sites for housing.

Cllr Wayne Whittle, cabinet member for regeneration and business development, said: "This is not a commercial acquisition as we have made in other areas of the country.

"This purchase falls outside of the strategy but falls very clearly within our aspirations to regenerate the Island's economy and protect some of its key employment sites now and for future generations."