FURTHER details have been released about Red Funnel's multi-million pound plans to improve its terminals and ferries.
As revealed by the Isle of Wight County Press earlier this month, the company plans to relocate its East Cowes terminal and port facilities to Venture Quays and Trinity Wharf — a move chief executive Kevin George said would bring business opportunities to the town and ease traffic congestion.
The Isle of Wight Council today (Wednesday) confirmed it was working with Red Funnel and Southampton City Council to bid for £14m from the government's local growth fund, through the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.
The cash would be used in addition to £15m of private sector investment to relocate the East Cowes terminal — paving the way for the redevelopment of the town centre — improve access to the East Cowes and Southampton terminals and upgrade ferries.
Investment would be made primarily on the Southampton side, where a proposed residential, retail, office, leisure and hotel development could create more than 1,000 new jobs.
The East Cowes plans include improving access from the town centre to the waterfront and creating the potential for new shops and restaurants, which would complement the Homes and Communities Agency's (HCA) proposed marina development.
Council leader Cllr Ian Stephens said: "This bid is very much at an early stage and much more work is needed to develop the detail. Key to this process will be discussions with other development partners, as well as East Cowes Town Council and Cowes Town Council, ward councillors, landowners and others. If successful it could provide long-term economic benefits to East Cowes and the Island as a whole."
As previously reported, the land Red Funnel hopes to relocate its East Cowes facilities to is owned by the HCA. It has yet to be determined whether compulsory purchase orders would be used to buy land around the site.
A decision on the funding bid is expected in the spring. If the bid is successful and planning permission granted, building work could start in 2017, to be completed in 2020.