A CRUCIAL investor in Ryde has said more could be done to improve the proposed £10 million transport interchange scheme.

Historic England (HE), which has invested £480,000 as part of the protective and regenerative High Street Heritage Action Zone, responded to the Isle of Wight Council's consultation on the proposals for Ryde Esplanade, recommending changes.

It suggested replacing the turning circle at the bottom of Union Street with a four-way junction, widening the pavement on the south side of the esplanade to provide outdoor eating spaces for cafes and reviewing the bus waiting spaces.

Isle of Wight County Press: Proposed changes to the Esplanade. (Picture: Isle of Wight Council).Proposed changes to the Esplanade. (Picture: Isle of Wight Council).

It also suggested Wightlink's plans to regenerate the tramway pier into a pedestrian and cyclist pathway should be swapped with the main Ryde Pier.

It says cars should go up the currently run-down pier with pedestrians able to 'promenade' on the main walkway.

Isle of Wight County Press: From left to right: The train pier, tramway pier and promenade pier facing Ryde.From left to right: The train pier, tramway pier and promenade pier facing Ryde.

In a letter to the project's strategic manager, David Newton, HE's Historic Places Adviser for the South East, Robert Lloyd-Sweet, said it was felt there were opportunities to improve the scheme, which would directly affect the Ryde Conservation Area, a HE regional priority for action.

Mr Lloyd-Sweet noted the current configuration of the Esplanade was not ideal, with the bus station and highways landscape making an 'indifferent to poor contribution' to the conservation area.

The scheme includes road junction changes, new bus station layout and South Western Railway is due to refurbish the train station.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Proposals have been met with mixed reactions as HE joins calls from objectors to make amendments.

The bus station would be replaced with lay-bys but HE has suggested moving them to create better sight lines of buildings on the Esplanade, widening the pedestrian crossing or moving the entrance to the pier approach road, reducing the loss of Western Gardens.

It said the new public spaces created would be unlikely to provide a useful space for leisure and would not replace space lost at Western Gardens.

Isle of Wight County Press: The toilets and cafe at Western Gardens which are set to be demolished.The toilets and cafe at Western Gardens which are set to be demolished.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson thanked Historic England for providing the feedback but said it would be inappropriate to comment on individual consultation responses.

A report based on the feedback is being prepared ahead of the September cabinet meeting, where a decision on implementing the scheme will be made.

The spokesperson said a number of responses had been received.

Mr Lloyd-Sweet said it was a significant opportunity to enhance to tramway pier but the materials proposed for the deck, railings and shelter seats did not provide a high-quality design.

It was recognised there are conflicts on the pier between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists but the tramway proposal removed the opportunity for pedestrians to take their time and sandwiched them between trains and cars.

HE said the benefits of this proposal were unconvincing and proposed the tramway pier be used for vehicles instead, retaining and enhancing the current pier for pedestrians.