Regeneration grant awards

Levelling Up Fund (LUF) Bid

The Isle of Wight Council applied for Levelling up funding. The bid was awarded on October 2021

Bob Seely MP formally endorsed the bid. 

The capital grant requested from UK Government (UKG): £5,841,254

view from above of a coastal warehouse side

Bid summary

East Cowes is an established marine engineering and manufacturing hub. It is situated at the entrance to the Medina Valley on the Isle of Wight, within the proposed Solent Freeport zone.

However, despite its long-established strength in the marine industries, East Cowes lags behind its neighbour, Cowes and the Island as a whole. This is in relation to a range of socio-economic indices. The Isle of Wight also lags well behind the Solent, South-East and UK.

A package bid of three deliverable projects, collectively referred to as the East Cowes Marine Hub, has been identified to support levelling up of the Isle of Wight. This is to unlock a range of economic, skills and visible placemaking outcomes.

This package bid is led by the Isle of Wight Council in partnership with strategic stakeholders:

  • an innovative marine engineering employer
  • the Wight Shipyard Company,
  • a leading charitable training and skills provider, the UK Sailing Academy (UKSA)

This East Cowes Marine Hub package comprises three complementary projects located in the Venture Quays area of East Cowes:

The Columbine Building

This project will comprise a number of interventions to this iconic 1930s building:

  • marine engineering works and installation of a new boat hoist to increase the capacity of the shipyard. This will futureproof its use and support the Wight Shipyard Company in delivering the next generation of sustainable high-speed ferries and crew transfer boats, as well as being available to other marine engineering businesses
  • upgrade works (including the installation of windows) to the southern elevation to allow internal floorplates to be brought into beneficial use for potential occupation under lease by the Wight Shipyard Company to expand their marine design studio
  • internal upgrade / fit-out of a redundant floorplate to provide a high quality flexible workspace to meet a demonstrable shortage of good quality commercial / community floorspace in East Cowes

The Victoria Barracks

This semi-derelict 19th century former garrison building, adjacent to the Columbine Building, will be renovated and repurposed to provide a new facility for the UKSA. The UKSA, based in Cowes, provide education, mentoring and training, skills and pathways to employment to young people who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to access the water. The UKSA propose to expand and occupy the Victoria Barracks as a dedicated facility for its Schools and Youth Groups business. This project will comprise:

  • structural refurbishment works and fit-out
  • installation of a pontoon structure on the waterfront for use by the UKSA and the public

Public realm investment

This is a transformational public realm scheme is proposed. An existing dead space, this project will integrate the reactivated Victoria Barracks with the Columbine Building and the historic, but underutilised, Esplanade to the north, acting as a focal point for activity and a catalyst for future proposed enhancements delivering:

  • hard and soft landscaping
  • a viewing platform
  • covered exhibition space
  • storage lockers for paddleboarders and kayakers

Additional considerations

The proposals are not anticipated to be controversial, and are instead expected to be well-supported. Significant support has already been provided by key local stakeholders. Each of the projects represent an evolution of long-standing master planned proposals – subject to extensive public consultation - for the regeneration of Venture Quays. The proposed uses and occupiers will deliver significant benefits for local residents and businesses, supporting skills, employment and placemaking outcomes.

We are required to publish the full funding bid by the LUF. 

We are aware that the document format is not fully accessible. If you are unable to access the full document, or have any questions about the funding bid, please contact the Regeneration team: