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Home / Place Plan / Cowes / Northwood (West Medina) PLACE Plan Brief
Home / Place Plan / Cowes / Northwood (West Medina) PLACE Plan Brief

Cowes / Northwood (West Medina) PLACE Plan Brief

`Place` shaping is a strategic and holistic way of identifying and matching different community needs, resources and aspirations with that of the host organisations, in this case Cowes Town Council, Northwood Parish Council, the Business Associations and Isle of Wight Council (IWC).

A suitably experienced planning/community engagement practice is required by partners to undertake the development of a Place Plan for Cowes/Northwood (West Medina) Isle of Wight.


Cowes is one of the Isle of Wight historic towns and is internationally famous as the home of yacht racing, it has a proud manufacturing heritage and continues to be home to some of the island's most successful businesses. It is one of the main arrival points to the island with a passenger ferry located in the very heart of the town centre. A floating bridge connects to the town to East Cowes. The famous Parade area, Northwood house and a vibrant high st all support a town full of character, strong heritage and community identity. Cowes Enterprise college and a range of successful primary schools cater for the education needs of this part of the island. Northwood is immediately adjacent to Cowes and is home to one of the main concentrations of employment on the island as well as supporting a more diversified housing offer for the wider area. Cowes medical centre straddles the two areas and seeks to provide primary care local residents

Cowes/Northwood is located The 'West Medina' regeneration area.The wards situated within this area include: Cowes North; Cowes Medina; Cowes West and Gurnard; Cowes South and Northwood; Parkhurst; Newport Central; Newport West; Newport South and Carisbrooke.

Key statistics

Population of Cowes /Northwood 13,000 (West Medina 34,000)

Highest number of mortgages (33.8%) and private rental (17.2%)

Lowest number of houses owned outright (35.5%)

Second highest proportion of long term sick or disabled residents (24%)

Two thirds of residents are economically active (66%)

Housing needs

60.1% of respondents in West Medina disagreed/strongly disagreed with the statement 'I feel valued as a member of my community'.

50.4% agreed/strongly agreed with the statement 'People are able to afford the property they want in the place they want to live'.

Only 22% said that they would like to see better access to moving/more affordable housing

In public consultations it was suggested that smaller, carefully considered affordable housing may have the potential to attract young people/graduates to stay/reside here.

Infrastructure imperatives

The most common free text response to 'What is your biggest concern for the future?' was affordable access to the mainland, and the second most popular was reliable access to the mainland.

54% of respondents to the survey said that they would like to see improvements to transport.

In public consultations, suggestions included making parking free for one to two hours at the Parade/in the centre of Cowes to encourage shopper footfall, better management of speed limits, more cycle access and more footpaths/bridleways.

Known proposals

Medina Yard. Marine related employment, mixed use and residential and public realm

BAE-Ascensos/ business innovation centre


The IWC is seeking to engage with distinct `Areas` of the Island (West Wight, West Medina, East Medina, Ryde and The Bay) to initiate an ongoing dialogue and ultimately create a partnership arrangement to progress the regeneration programme across all parts of the Isle of Wight.

The IWC is keen to utilise this activity to achieve:

  • better perception of trust and commitment by residents and commerce
  • public awareness of the regeneration programme and its aims
  • A deeper understanding of local detail to better shape future service delivery, a more co-ordinated way of working and add overall value from resources utilised.
  • To offer and lead new, mutually beneficial, partnership way-of-working between the Areas and the Council going forward.

Cowes looks East to its relationships with East Cowes and Northwood looks south to its relationship with Newport so little information exists that considers it needs as a distinct area alongside its relationship with the wider regeneration areas the Place Plan will provide this. Gurnard a small village neighbouring Cowes/Northwood has a neighbourhood plan which needs to be referenced in the development of this study.

Unlike other smaller towns on the island (town plan, neighbourhood plan) there is no reasonably current analysis that considers Cowes/Northwood's economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities.

Island plan review - Isle of Wight council is undertaking a review of its Island Plan , the main land use planning policy document that helps inform planning decisions regarding proposed future development. It is intended that the results of the Place Plan can feed into the Island plan review process.


The proposed research methods for this study should seek to be inclusive of the wide variety of agencies and organisations involved in the various policy areas impacting on the place, and which are therefore critical to achieving a successful transition to a more sustainable and equitable future model of development. Community participation in the Study will be key, using the localised results of the Wight we want survey and further engagement work with local groups (particularly harder to reach). The research methods should be both desk-based quantitative, and ethnographic qualitative.

The Place plan will be progressed as action-based research, which seeks to influence policy and delivery. This study should aim to be a catalyst for change in internal community perceptions as well as external perceptions, and there should be a focus on involving many of those who would be of critical importance on implementing any transition approach advocated in the study report.

The Study should use official data, such as the WIMD and the 2011 Census, to build up a statistical profile of the LSOAs that make up the Cowes/Northwood area. It should also use CACI Paycheck data to develop a detailed understanding of current household income levels across each of the LSOAs. It will be critical, however, to go beyond this quantitative data to establish a complete understanding of the 'lived experience' of different communities in the area. Upon establishing a thorough understanding of the linkages between the socio-economic and cultural components of different communities in the area, the study should seek to focus on holistic solutions.

There should also be an element of 'horizon scanning' to identify current trajectories and to ascertain potential developments in the economy and community.

'Think Spaces' could be used to better understand the challenges facing the area , to help map current interventions, and to 'borrow' expertise in various policy fields.Think Spaces are essentially policy-themed semi-structured focus groups of policy experts, practitioners and community members.

The themes might include:

Economy; Education and Skills; Housing; Community Safety; Health and Social Services; Environment; as well as a dedicated Community Think Space.

The choice of themes should be influenced by the initial data findings and early discussions with key practitioners however, the semi-structured nature of the Think Spaces should ensure opportunities to discuss issues beyond the general themes are available.

Meeting in an independent location the Think Space groups should be free to identify existing patterns of failure as well as what works in communities such as Cowes/Northwood. Space should be provided for frank, mutual and personal reflection and critique, and to re-imagine the future of the community.

During the study period a Medina Valley Marine sector research study will be underway and East Cowes Town council will be developing an updated town plan. The place plan for Cowes/Northwood should take full account of the key findings/recommendations of both these pieces of work


The Place Plan will need to capture the following information:

  • The regeneration vision and objectives of the IWC
  • The regeneration vision and objectives for the area and its constituents (resident and commercial)
  • Specific priorities and needs of the area and evidence to support
  • Identification of any past, present or future Plans and discussions, from any party, and current status
  • Identification of any potential resources to be made available from all stakeholders to tackle identified needs
  • A `SMART` Action plan with allocation of task holders
  • A structured measurement process to identify progress, barriers and inform new thinking
  • A governance and lead mechanism to ensure transparency, commitment and best use of resources applied.

Study governance

The Place Plan project will be overseen by a project board comprising the organisations funding the study (Isle of Wight Council, Cowes town council, Northwood parish council, Cowes Business Association). The study will begin In March 2020 and be complete by the end of June 2020. The project board will meet to consider interim reports at three stages during the study

  • On completion of analysis of key data (quantitative and qualitative)
  • On completion of think space theme groups
  • On completion of a draft report

Last updated 08:57 on 8 July 2020

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