9 April 2020
Isle of Wight Green Party chair, Cllr Daniel James (Freshwater) opened the discussion and handed off to South East GPRC Representative and Island planning consultant, Cllr Martha James, to dissect the current state of Island planning and development. Cllr James described the lack of affordable housing being built on the Island, the state of the current housing stock, and a way forward to tackle these escalating issues.
“We see these houses being built and we think, well at least there’ll be some affordable housing… and there’s zero.” - Cllr Martha James
Cllr Joe Lever (Newport) was up next, with a damning insight into challenges facing young families and the Island’s housing market. Cllr Lever outlined two facets of challenges his family have encountered. Each facet covered various aspects such as; property value and low incomes, rising household expenditure, the price of childcare, and commuting off the Island, which all cause challenges for young families - and many others - living on the Isle of Wight.
“17% of children live in poverty on the Isle of Wight, which shockingly jumps to 34.3% after you take in account housing costs.” - Cllr Joe Lever
Next up, Cllr Neil Oliver (Cowes) spoke of the Island Co-housing scheme he’s involved with and the potential benefits it could hold for the Island and the future of housing. Cllr Oliver touched on the aims of “intentional communities”, common objectives and features of co-housing groups across the country, the benefits to occupants and their community, and plans Island Co-housing has for the future.
Last, but certainly not least, Cllr Stephen Cockett (Ventnor) talked of the escalating issues with rising numbers of second homes and short-term holiday letting on the Island. Cllr Cockett cautioned that a careful balance was needed, of appreciating tourism - and the benefits it brings to the Island - whilst exploring disincentives for second homes and regulations on the short-term letting market, which is currently open to abuse.
My specific motivation for this is that, in a selfish manner, I’m running out of neighbours. The village which I live in is depopulating.” - Cllr Stephen Cockett
The session then broke for a short break, returning with the panel taking questions from the audience and engaging in discussion on potential solutions to some of the issues discussed.
The Isle of Wight Green Party would like to thank all those who attended and contributed. We hope to host more public sessions to really engage with Island communities about their concerns and needs, all in the hope it will give us a truly inspiring and robust set of policies going into the 2021 IOW Council Elections.
Hope to see you all soon!