Ash Sakula, working with Imagine Places, was appointed by the Isle of Wight Council to develop a master-planning framework for Newport Harbour.
We immersed ourselves in this neglected and under-utilised place at the dead centre of the Isle of Wight, from which the tidal River Medina runs north to reach the sea at Cowes. Our task was to undertake a thorough analysis to identify opportunities to densify and maximise the land use, open it up to visitors and create new homes. Tidal patterns, land ownership, site connectivity, economic activity, flood risk, the town’s existing development strategies and the possibility of new river crossings were all considerations that came within the scope of the study.
Our report presented three viable, realisable, sustainable options for future development, based on alternative land procurement strategies, which enabled the council to move forward with their consultation and decision-making processes. Because such formalised processes are prone to be cumbersome and take a long time to effect change, we also developed an imaginative set of ideas for creative meanwhile uses for the site.
“It was a very positive experience for us working with Ash Sakula” - client
As specialists in interim urbanism, we advocate the temporary use of vacant land and buildings for a socially beneficial purpose until they can be brought into commercial use. As well as creating a better physical and social environment, turning empty or underused places into low-cost, low-risk entrepreneurial opportunities for communities and businesses (especially local young people) is a great way to build public engagement and generate momentum for development to come.
Newport Harbour is in the shadows. An arterial river crossing that cuts it off from the main town condemns it to be sleepy and peripheral, while economic activity has shifted to retail, industrial and business parks on the banks of the Medina River, which are threatening to encroach upon the river banks. Our master-plan re-conceives of Newport Harbour as a place that is hard-wired into the town by pedestrian routes and cycle paths, and a new river taxi service connecting it to Cowes. Ex-industrial warehouses are brought back into profitable use, while sustainable new homes and businesses densify land-use and create a new sense of place.