Isle of Wight Council

07 Sep 2022

First Branstone Day hailed a success

Branstone Farm hosted the first 'Branstone Day' for Islanders and local businesses to explore the new sustainable development in the heart of the Arreton valley.

Following the investment of UK Government, Solent LEP and EU Interreg funding totalling £13.6 million, the site is getting ready to welcome its first occupants next month as part of the initial phase of 18 business 'barns'.

A number of new home owners are also preparing to move into the exciting Island development.

Last week, hundreds of people came together to enjoy talks, tours, walks and activities at the site that acts as a template for regeneration and sustainable development within the Isle of Wight biosphere.

Key to the development is affordable housing for Island people that will see 42 homes, thoughtfully designed to complement the natural setting of the semi-rural landscape.

They will be available through the government's ‘Help to Buy’ and shared ownership schemes sitting alongside rented properties that will be managed by Vectis Housing Association, the Island’s independently-run housing association.

Anchor businesses such as Goddards Brewery, Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce and creative agency, Brightbulb Design, are all early take ups of the business opportunity.

They were funded by Solent LEP via the government's Getting Building Fund to relocate to the premium build that incorporates green energy, sustainable design and build methods, low carbon usage and living in harmony with the local, natural eco-systems.

Central to the development is a new public green space that incorporates new woodland planted with native trees, extensive ponds to encourage wildlife and an outdoor education area to ‘connect people to planet’.

Councillor Julie Jones-Evans, Cabinet member for levelling up and regeneration, said: “Island businesses need room to breathe, innovate and grow and the new business space at Branstone is the perfect environment for that.

"Being part of a new community in a world class environment setting is also a massive plus. I’m proud of how the partners have come together to deliver this scheme worthy of the Island's biosphere status.“

Martyn Pearl, chief executive at Vectis Housing Association, said: “Partnership makes things happen and I am delighted to see this integrated scheme come to fruition and commend the fantastic design of the site that is sympathetic to and enhances the characteristics of the Island, the biosphere and local community.

"Branstone Farm is the ‘jewel in the Vectis crown’ and has pushed boundaries in partnership working, sustainable development and creating a community-based legacy. There is a ‘right way’ to approach new build sites, and we believe this is it.”

Richard Grogan, lead officer of Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said: “We are excited to see that the Isle of Wight World Biosphere Reserve is at the heart of the build.

"Being located in the Arreton valley, the whole ethos of the development has considered people, wildlife and environmental sustainability; giving people somewhere to live, work and play in harmony with nature.

"There has been a real sense of collaboration from day one and a recognition that the unique Isle of Wight biosphere is for everybody to treasure and enjoy as we see this new community evolve.”

Ian Boyd, from The Common Space, said: “It has been wonderful to see Branstone Farm come back to life today with its woods, ponds and fields being explored and enjoyed by local people who will be moving into the new homes.

"Branstone is not only a new neighbourhood in the parish of Newchurch, but a new business hub, country park and, with the Goddards Brewery centre next door, a visitor destination in the Arreton valley.

"There is still so much to come and Branstone is designed to provide that breathing space, allowing the new communities to shape the way they want to live and work here, set within a landscape that is managed to bring wildlife and an experience of the natural world, into daily life.

"Branstone Day (August 31) now has its place in the Island calendar and we are very grateful to the European Interreg France (Channel) England programme, within the framework of the ‘UNESCO Sites Across the Channel’ (USAC) project for helping to fund this first event.”

Chris Ashman, the council's director of regeneration, said: “I’m immensely proud of the Branstone Farm site and express heartfelt thanks to all the stakeholder and partners, local people and businesses, that have come together to make this happen.

"My passion for regeneration on the Island is about working to attract new jobs and investment and ensuring the benefits of economic growth reaches local people.

"I envisage relationships strengthening between the new home owners, tenants and businesses and many a new opportunity being fostered over a cup of tea in the beautiful new community garden.”

Bob Simpson, managing director at Goddards Brewery, said: “We are really excited about the future. Our new premises will provide us with the ability to expand our offer at the same time as partnering with the local community.

"The site with its biosphere credentials will also help us on our journey to a more ecologically sound way of doing business."

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Pond dipping during Branstone Day
Pond dipping during Branstone Day
Factfile
  • Branstone Farm is getting ready to welcome its first occupants next month as part of the initial phase of 18 business 'barns'. New home owners are also preparing to move into the development.
  • Key to the development is affordable housing for Island people that will see 42 homes, thoughtfully designed to complement the natural setting of the semi-rural landscape.
 
Isle of Wight, UK