ISLAND MP Bob Seely has welcomed the proposals to introduce more housing into Newport by creating a new 'Riverside Quarter' and potentially knocking down County Hall.

The ideas were put forward by the Isle of Wight Council’s Conservative leadership last week.

Mr Seely said the proposal would rejuvenate the Island’s county town, and in doing so, protect the Island’s green fields from development.

Speaking in response to Cllr Dave Stewart’s announcement last week that a future Conservative administration would work with public sector partners to establish a Riverside Quarter, Mr Seely said: “This is a welcome and important development, and one that has my support and input.

“This idea has several aims. First, it regenerates Newport town centre, whose shops have been hit badly by the Covid pandemic.

Isle of Wight County Press: County Hall in Newport.County Hall in Newport.

"Second, by focusing house-building in Newport — and, in time, other town centres — we can create homes that are prioritised for Islanders.

"Third, by building in town, we take the pressure off greenfield sites. I want the Council to all-but ban greenfield development, which is bad for the Island and Islanders, but to do so we need to make sure regeneration takes place in towns.

"This excellent plan is part of an overall vision for the Island. I will be working with the council to make the case to Westminster and Whitehall for the Island being awarded monies from the Levelling Up Fund. We will be putting in a major bid.

“I hear that other political parties have rushed to criticise. I would urge them to read the announcement in full to understand the holistic and ambitious nature of the vision.

"It is a waste of everyone’s time to criticise but then offer nothing.

“The reality is this — the pandemic has had a significant impact on our high streets. The loss of some shops is obvious.

"The council must take a pro-active approach to ensure our retail and hospitality offer in our town centres is strengthened by being easily accessible to more residents living locally and welcoming to all visitors.

“Through these proposals, there is the potential not only to preserve the proud heritage of our county town, but also enhance it.

"The proposed use of The Guildhall as a new civic centre will ensure this Grade II listed building is fully utilised for public benefit in the way it was originally intended.

"This will sit alongside other cultural assets such as the Quay Arts Centre and Apollo Theatre in the Quarter, as well as the many historic buildings in Newport town centre which will be preserved – and the new development proposals must complement these.

“That’s our vision, and that’s why I believe it is absolutely in the Island’s interests to deliver a strong Conservative team to County Hall so we can continue working together for the good of our community.”