Plans to transform Ryde Interchange - the hub of buses, ferries and cars on the Isle of Wight town's historic seafront - are dividing opinion.

While some see the scheme as a cause for concern, others say it will mean huge improvements to a major Island gateway.

Funded by £10m from the Transforming Cities Fund, the goal is to increase connectivity and making the area around the pier a safer place - and nicer - place to be.

Improvements to the bus station and road layout, a dedicated footpath and cycle track on the disused tramway along Wightlink's pier and an upgrade for South Western Railway's station are all planned.

Wightlink, Southern Vectis and South Western Railway have all made financial contributions.

But how have the plans gone down...?

Former regeneration working group member: There are more roads!

Isle of Wight County Press:

A former member of the Ryde regeneration group, Cathy Foulkes argues more roads are planned, despite funding for sustainable transport.

She is worried about the potential for even more traffic build-up.

She has also raised concern about what she thinks is a lack of public amenities. There are plans to demolish the most-used public toilets on the Island, along with the cafe at the start of the pier.

Scroll down to read what Isle of Wight Council and businesses think...

The proposals, Cathy says, go against recommendations.

She points to the road layout designs from 2005, when changes were first suggested, which included a roundabout.

When Historic England visited in June 2019 it warned it would be a 'disaster if the design of the Esplanade was based on traffic-engineering considerations.'

The organisation called on Isle of Wight Council to try to reduce traffic on the Esplanade, in favour of a pedestrian-friendly environment.

Isle of Wight Council: "I believe we have, hugely improved the pedestrian priority"

Isle of Wight County Press:

The Isle of Wight Council's strategic manager for the regeneration infrastructure and transport capital programme challenges the idea the current proposals are designed with cars and lorries in mind. 

Dave Newton says: "While that is incredibly important and has a high priority because this is about improving sustainable transport and the funding that comes along to enable that, we have strived to, and I believe we have, hugely improved the pedestrian priority in the area.

"We have made that space much more pedestrian-friendly."

Mr Newton said if you walk through the bus station at the moment, it feels as if you are walking through a bus car park.

He wants to make visitors feel welcome.

Mr Newton said the proposals include public toilets and a cafe in the new train station.

Scroll down to read what some businesses think...

Lost plants in one area will be replaced by greenery elsewhere and the tulip tree will remain, said Mr Newton.

On the roads, most buses will leaving Ryde via George Street, for safety.

Getting the proposals right was a fine balance and Mr Newton says that unless something is found that makes the scheme entirely unworkable, it is likely to go ahead.

There could be tweaks as a result of a consultation, he said.

He said: "This stage is the feasibility design and what we have found makes the project work and [the feedback] will help us design the next level of detail that is very much focused on the public realm, we will hear all commentary and move forward.

"There is always going to be compromise and wide, wide views so we cannot make everybody happy but the fundamentals of this is to create a great opportunity funded by the DfT to improve sustainable travel, enhance the public realm and get much better pedestrian prioritisation in the area than there currently is, which is what we set out to do.

"To those who haven’t been part of those conversations it has been a surprise to see plans laid out like this but I do stress this is a genuine consultation."

Businesses: "I am not a happy bunny, and neither are a lot of other retailers along the Esplanade."

Isle of Wight County Press:

Businesses will be hit by the work because the project could take a year - including a summer season - to complete.

Dave Sargison, owner of the Chocolate Apothecary on the Esplanade, he has problems with the entire scheme.

Here says there has been a lack of consultation and is worried about the impact to the environment, businesses, and residents.

Tables he puts out for customers will also have to be removed, to make way for a taxi rank.

Scroll down for a link to the consultation...

Mr Sargison said: "I am not a happy bunny, and neither are a lot of other retailers along the Esplanade.

"We have been told nothing can be done, it has gone too far.

"The council is frightened they will lose the money so they are prepared to use it but they have not thought it through.

This will create more vehicles on the road and stationary vehicles pumping out emissions."

He is worried it will actually make people want to leave.

Deadline day

The Isle of Wight Council cabinet is being asked to approve the implementation of the scheme at its July meeting while also authorising the director of neighbourhoods to make the final decisions, informed by the findings of the consultation.

The consultation to gather feedback about the plans and opinions on the public realm aspects ends on August 3.