BROWNFIELD sites are not the only answer to the Isle of Wight housing crisis, according to the local authority.

The Isle of Wight Council says there are simply not enough of those sites to solve the issue.

In the draft Island Planning Strategy (IPS), which is out for consultation, the council says despite what residents believe — that there is no need to build on greenfield land as there is more than enough brownfield land to build houses on — it is not the case.

To try and bring forward more brownfield sites as well as the development of brownfield land already having permission, the council is hoping to introduce a dedicated housing policy.

The IPS shows there are approximately 60 hectares on the brownfield register, with the capacity for around 1,500 homes — 600 of which already have planning permission.

However, there are said to be 2,000 families on the housing register in urgent need of an affordable home.

The council hopes with the IPS, it can revise government housing targets and get 486 homes built on the Island a year, down from some estimates of over 1,000 a year.

The authority is pleading the Island has exceptional circumstances and hopes to use the plan as a tool to argue its point.

Before the plan was published, the council approached other local councils, the public, agents and landowners to make them aware of anywhere they knew on the Island that was available for development.

Of the 84 sites submitted, 25 were already on the brownfield register or known to the council, 45 were too small to be considered (yielding under 10 units) or inappropriate for housing.

The remaining 14 highlighted were investigated further and two sites holding the potential yield of around 75 units had been included in the IPS.

The rest were found to be too small, not available or had site-specific constraints which would make it impossible for them to be developed.

On the latest brownfield register (2020), there were 73 sites — 14 of which are owned by a public authority.

In the draft IPS, 60 per cent of the homes allocated are on brownfield land, with the two key priority sites at Camp Hill and Newport Harbour, with the potential for at least 1,200 and 250 homes respectively, and both in public sector ownership.

The council is also proposing a new brownfield site policy: H9, ‘new housing on previously developed land’.

Compared to the current IPS the council are operating from, which is nearly ten years old, the importance of brownfield sites is highlighted further with its own housing policy.

The new policy says the council will support the ‘land use principle’ of residential-led development schemes on all brownfield sites.

In urban areas, brownfield sites should aim to deliver as many homes as possible.

In rural areas, brownfield sits should seek to identify and meet local housing needs, subject to scale and the built form of new dwellings being appropriate for the character of the area and not having a greater impact than the previous or existing use of the land.

A number of brownfield sites are allocated in the IPS for housing and employment opportunities, including:

  • Medina Yard, Cowes – a mixed-use development providing at least 535 homes and 16,600m2 of non-residential floor space as well as the refurbishment of the Hammerhead Crane.

Isle of Wight County Press: An artist's impression of the Medina Yard development in 2018.An artist's impression of the Medina Yard development in 2018.

  • Former Somerton Reservoir, Cowes – 146 homes
  • Land at Moreys, Trafalgar Road, Newport – at least 100 homes
  • Land at Red Funnel, East Cowes – at least 100 homes, tourist accommodation and 1,250m2
  • The former Spa Hotel site, Shanklin Esplanade – at least 50 homes

Although they are allocated, the council are uncertain on how many dwellings they will deliver during the 15 years the plan spans.