Leeson Road Ventnor landslip

Information and updates about the landslip in Leeson Road Ventnor

Aerial view and view from the sea of the landslip showing how the ground has moved down and buildings now on the edge

We understand the effect the current closure of Leeson Road is having on residents and businesses, particularly those in the Ventnor area.

Both Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council are keen to keep the local community fully informed about what is being done in respect of managing this important strategic route.

As part of that aim, we have created this webpage on which we will share relevant updates on Leeson Road. This page also contains the answers to some of the questions already raised.

In addition to this page, we will, of course, continue to liaise with the local community and its elected members. A further public meeting in the town will also be arranged in the near future.

From the outset, we would like to make the following points absolutely clear:

  • it remains the intention of Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council to re-open Leeson Road as soon as it safe to do so
  • before making any decisions, we need additional, reliable, data to help us understand both the ongoing geological movement in the area and also, the potential risk of further failures
  • while we cannot at this stage state a timescale for the re-opening, we will ensure that the public is regularly updated with all the information relevant to this important, and difficult, decision.

Please do check back here for updates.

If you have any queries relating to Leeson Road please email coastal.recovery@iow.gov.uk

Update No 4 - Tuesday 16 July 2024

Leeson Road is set to re-open for the summer holidays

The decision follows assessment of recent data supplied by increased monitoring and also with an agreement of a series of steps that will be put in place to help ensure the safety of road users.

Since the installation of the first phase of monitoring equipment at Leeson Road data shows ongoing low-level movement in a few places around the landslip area.

However, the Isle of Wight Council is very much aware of the impact the closure of Leeson Road has had on Ventnor residents and businesses and has been working hard to achieve an approach which allows the road to open during the summer holiday period by taking steps that reduce the risk to road users down to a level the authority and Island Roads can accept.

This approach includes safety measures such as restricting access to one lane by using traffic lights and having a team on site to carry out regular visual checks to ensure the road remains safe to use. Immediate action could then be taken to close the road should movement occur. This is in conjunction with the drier summer period when the risk of landslip activity is known to reduce. The road will be re-opened at 10am on Wednesday 17 July and will operate under the controls outlined above until 10pm on Sunday 8 September.

From 9 September the road closure will allow the drilling of three 85-metre boreholes. These allow Island Roads to understand the nature of the underlying geology in the area and also allow the additional monitoring equipment to be installed deep underground. The data gathered from these devices will add to that already being collected and will assist the aim of creating an early warning system that will be pivotal to the intended safe re-opening of Leeson Road and its longer-term management.

If the borehole work is not ready to start on 9 September, then the Leeson Road arrangement will stay in place until such time that the boreholes are ready to be drilled.

Update No 3 - Friday 28 June 2024

Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council can offer some positive news on the ongoing issues affecting access in and out of Ventnor.

Both organisations have been working with various partner agencies to resolve the current issues affecting the town and can now provide updates in three areas.

Safety work that will allow Gills Cliff Road in Ventnor to re-open will begin shortly while plans for 85-metre boreholes at Leeson Road are advancing with this specialist work – which will help provide data needed to inform a decision on re-opening the road – possibly beginning within weeks.

As the further evidence from the boreholes are gathered and analysed, this will enable the decision to be made, whether to road is re-opened either fully or partially, in the autumn.

A council spokesman said: “We fully understand the problems being faced by the Ventnor community as a result of recent events and we have been working hard with numerous agencies and partners to find resolutions to what are difficult and highly technical issues.
“Our intention remains to re-open all these important routes as soon as we are confident it is safe to do so and I am glad to say that while there is still work to be done and issues to be overcome, we are making steady progress.
“The progress made this week by Southern Water at Newport Road is the most immediate bit of good news, but we are also moving forward on the other more complex issues at Leeson Road and Gills Cliff Road also.
"This work will continue and I can assure residents that we are all pulling together with the common aim of improving access in the town as soon as it is possible.

Local company DDGA has been appointed to deliver the Gills Cliff Road scheme which is hoped will be completed by early August.

Gills Cliff Road has been closed for safety reasons since a significant rockfall sent tonnes of debris spilling onto the highway in February.

The forthcoming work will see large sections or the rockface covered by heavy duty steel netting designed to prevent further debris from falling onto the highway.

The solution has been agreed by Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council following extensive surveys of the area. One challenge has been to identify areas within the rockface where it is safe to anchor the netting without causing further weaknesses.

An Island Roads spokesman added: “Since the initial rockfall, we have been working closely with the council to agree a suitable solution that will enable us to safely re-open the road.
“I’m pleased to say we have now instructed a local company who have worked extensively in the local area.
“It is difficult to give definitive timescales due to factors such as the unstable nature of this site and the need to source bespoke materials, but we are all doing our level best to complete the work and re-open the road as soon as we can."

Island Roads also confirmed it was working with Ventnor Fringe organisers to assist with any specific transportation issues they may be facing in the run up to the event.

Plans for the three 85-metre boreholes in the Leeson Road area are progressing and these could be drilled in August.

The purpose of these is twofold: firstly to help understand the nature of the underlying geology in the area and secondly to allow monitoring equipment to be installed deep underground.

The data gathered from these devices will add to that already being collected and will assist Island Roads and the council in the aim of creating an early warning system that will be pivotal to the intended re-opening Leeson Road.

Work on possible models for an early warning system is already underway.

Update No 2 – Wednesday 24 April 2024

An array of specialist hi-tech equipment that will monitor any ongoing movement in and around Leeson Road in Ventnor has now been installed.

Island Roads staff have been working with site investigation experts SOCOTEC to install monitoring equipment that will measure and record lateral and rotational ground movement.

The data gathered will help Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council make informed decisions about the future of Leeson Road.

The array comprises three extensometers to measure and record changes to visible cracking and 22 tiltmeters recording rotational ground movement. This will shortly be complemented with three global navigation satellite sensors providing remote monitoring of vertical and horizontal land movement.

The council will be addressing the current situation at Leeson Road as well as other access issues currently affecting the town, at a further public meeting in the town next month. More details will be announced shortly.

Update No 1 – Wednesday 11 April 2024

The installation of specialist equipment to monitor any movement around Leeson Road is to begin week commencing 15 April 2024.

Data from nearly 30 pieces of equipment will enable the Isle of Wight Council and Island Roads to make informed decisions on the future of the strategic route between Shanklin and Ventnor. The equipment will measure any vertical and horizontal movement and also monitor any widening of existing cracks. 

The council and Island Roads have also created a new webpage to highlight latest information on Leeson Road and other access issues affecting Ventnor given ongoing issues at locations such as Newport Road and Gills Cliff Road.

The upper section of Leeson Road has remained closed since a catastrophic landslip in December 2023 when 16 hectares – some 14million cubic metres of land – was displaced in what was one of the largest landslides recorded on the South Coast of England.

Leeson Road passes close to the back of the landslip and expert advice has recommended the road remains closed until more is known about the risk of further major movement. This is particularly so given that the heavy rainfall that was identified as a cause of the original landslip has persisted.

Subject to no further movement, favourable weather and the necessary permissions being given to install the equipment on private land, preparatory work will be undertaken next week followed by the installation of the equipment itself in the week commencing 15 April 2024.

The type and number of equipment and the locations at which it will be placed has been decided in consultation with industry experts. The array comprises three extensometers to measure and record changes to visible cracking, 22 tiltmeters recording lateral ground movement, three global navigation satellite sensors providing remote monitoring of vertical and horizontal land movement.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

List of frequently asked questions and answers on the issue of Leeson Road

We will continue to update the questions and answers.