THE long-awaited redevelopment of Newport Harbour has moved a step nearer.

A Harbour Revision Order (HRO), applied for in 2017 by the Isle of Wight Council to lengthen the lease terms for existing and new harbour tenants, has finally been granted by the government.

Since then, plans have been unveiled and approved to regenerate the harbour to include a new cultural centre, hotel, multi-storey car park, footbridge over the River Medina and affordable homes.

Hotel, homes and Medina footbridge - Newport Harbour regeneration plans

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The previous rules, which date back to 1847, only allowed lease terms of three years, which added extra restrictive pressures to any type of development, as only short-term leases could be offered.

After being approved last week by the Marine Management Organisation and Parliament, Cllr Wayne Whittle, cabinet member for regeneration and business development, said the council's successful application marked an important milestone for the project.

He said: "The granting of the order effectively takes the brakes off the scheme and puts us in a position where progress can be made.

"The timing is significant as the Island seeks to recover from the devastating coronavirus pandemic.

"Having all the permissions and flexibilities in place to attract investors means our harbour plans can play a major part in Newport's and the Island's post-pandemic future."

Cllr Whittle also said the redevelopment plans will concentrate on brownfield sites, avoiding development of greenfield sites 'where possible'.

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Plans to build affordable homes on Seaclose Park where scrapped after the then draft masterplan came under fire from residents and local councillors for developing a greenfield site.

The council's director of regeneration Chris Ashman, said the harbour was a flagship regeneration opportunity for investors and the previous order had been a major barrier to its development and improvement.

He said: "Funding for developments are linked to the length of the potential lease the developer might be able to obtain.

"In the past, the restriction has likely impacted investment by commercial operators who would not see sufficient return on any investment in such a short period of time to make it worthwhile.

"The continuing operation of the harbour as a working facility will always be an important consideration and the revenues generated will make a contribution to its essential maintenance.

"The needs of the harbour users are also key and will be an important part of the scheme."

What happens next with Newport Harbour's regeneration?

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