Ryde Gateway Scheme may be abandoned

By a County Press reporter

Monday, October 5, 2009

 

THE Ryde Gateway scheme could be ditched by the Isle of Wight Council amid doubts over rising costs and difficulties over the leasing of Network Rail land.

The council is instead proposing to use £1.5m set aside for the scheme to improve Ryde Esplanade.  

The authority said it would consult local members and Ryde Town Council as to how that money can best be spent on amenities and the street scene.

Cllr Edward Giles, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for environment and transport said the council had worked hard over many years to keep the scheme on track.

"But for a variety of reasons, the scheme no longer represents good value for money especially so when, by making a firm decision now, we can redirect money to making an immediate improvement to Ryde.

Even though the council has held regular meetings with those with an interest in the project, it said three major issues remained insurmountable.

The first was the rising cost of the project - now estimated at nearly £10.5 million, of which over £4 million would fall on the Isle of Wight Council.

Secondly, the council had been unable to cancel a break clause that would enable Network Rail – which owns most the land in the intended development plot including the current station building – to reclaim the land for operational use at just six months notice. This would severely limit the potential to lease out space within the development to businesses.

"These factors give rise to the third issue – that the development would be an ongoing drain on council tax payers at a time when the council is looking to ensure it spends money on services for which it has a statutory duty." said a council spokesman. 

• Full story and reaction in the Friday, October 9, County Press.

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