A multi-million pound agreement to invest in roads and other infrastructure on the Parkhurst estate has today (Thursday) been confirmed.

The Isle of Wight Council will take ownership of the land from the MOJ, receiving a multi-million pound one-off payment to fund the upgrading and maintenance of the area (including roads, footways and open spaces).

However, mystery still surrounds the worth of the final financial agreement because, when a report was presented to the authority's leading cabinet members on March 11, discussions were held in private.

Today, Isle of Wight Conservative leader Cllr Dave Stewart said he could not reveal the amount 'for commercial reasons' but said it would be 'millions of pounds'.

The MoJ had set deadline of March 31, but the minutes of a private session the March 11 meeting showed cabinet members wanted further confirmation about how the most significant risks would be mitigated.

The recommendation from officers was changed, from accepting the MoJ's terms to 'undertaking further negotiations with the government body, with a view to acquire the relevant land on acceptable terms.'

In the officers' report, concern was raised about ongoing maintenance costs (which the MoJ would not pay for) because the one-off payment would only address the immediate disrepair.

It warned the council, if it took on the land, would need to work out how to fund future work as the estate cannot be included in the Highways PFI contract.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Now, County Hall's Conservative party leader, Cllr Dave Stewart said a deal has been done.

He said: "This is tremendous news for residents and the Island as our recovery from the pandemic gets underway.

"We made an in-principle decision a few weeks ago and we continued negotiations over the subsequent weeks, in order to ensure that the best possible deal could be secured. 

"This is a major win."

Cllr Stewart said the money would not resolve all the estate's issues, calling it 'the start of the process', but said it promises better roads, better lighting and better paths.

There have long been calls to upgrade the Parkhurst estate and its surrounding roads.

Promising that the Isle of Wight Council would reveal more details and a timeframe in due course, Cllr Stewart called it "an important step in the ongoing, related negotiations with the MOJ regarding ambitious plans for delivering new housing – part of the Garden Isle Regeneration programme – on the former Camp Hill estate."

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said: "This is yet another really good joint effort from “Team Isle of Wight”. 

"I’m delighted that working together we’ve been able to persuade the Government to hand over ownership of the prison estate roads with an acceptable accompanying payment to help fund upgrades and future maintenance."

The MP said work was likely to start over the next couple of years.

The County Press is seeking the reaction of other Isle of Wight community leaders.

Meanwhile there is no news on the future of the Camp Hill site, which was expected before Christmas.

Liberal Democrat Parkhurst Councillor Andrew Garratt had called for news on the future of the prison side, which has lain empty since it closed in 2013.