New marine hub for East Cowes Waterfront

The Isle of Wight Council has identified ‘place-making’ as a strategic regeneration priority: investing in assets to create an environment for businesses to locate and grow, and to change perceptions of the island.

East Cowes -

Situated at the entrance to the Medina Valley on the Isle of Wight, within the proposed Solent Freeport zone, East Cowes is an established marine engineering and manufacturing hub. The East Cowes area is a relatively distinct geography, being physically separated from West Cowes. However, the town is an important strategic position, being one of the main ferry arrival points on the island, providing an important first perception of the island and also an important logistics point. Enhancing East Cowes will help to support economic growth across the rest of the Isle of Wight, and help address the socio-economic challenges identified.

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, to unlock a range of economic, skills and visible placemaking outcomes. This package of bids will support the changing of perceptions of East Cowes in partnership with key stakeholders.

Investment in the East Cowes Marine Hub will reinvigorate East Cowes’ existing cluster of marine businesses, arresting the decline of existing built assets, infrastructure and environment, futureproofing their use to deliver and catalyse placemaking, employment, productivity and skills outcomes.

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A project inspired by the community

Significant public consultation has taken place over the last 15 years, principally led by the Isle of Wight Council with key stakeholders (including Red Funnel Ferries), proposing the master planned regeneration of East Cowes, focused on the Red Funnel Ferries site to the south of the Columbine Building. Extensive public consultation work was undertaken in 2020 as part of the East Cowes Town & Neighbourhood Plans. Local residents living in East Cowes were surveyed in August and September 2020, with more than 18% of households in the town responding to the survey.

Recurring themes that emerged from the consultation exercise that are particularly relevant to the Levelling Up Fund (and its overarching objectives), includes the need to improve the seafront and access to it, removing empty buildings in the town (in particular the Victoria Barracks) and supporting the vitality of the town centre. This insight has helped to inform the development of proposals.

More activity.
More opportunities.

The East Cowes Marine Hub will be centred around marine engineering and maritime skills training facilities, working with identified, committed stakeholders: the Wight Shipyard Company and the UK Sailing Academy. This package will deliver high-quality marine design and engineering job opportunities, training, skills and employment opportunities for young people, make visible improvements to the quality of place and contribute towards perceptions of East Cowes as a location to live, work and invest.

All Projects

Columbine Building

Comprising of a number of interventions to the iconic 1930s building: marine engineering works; upgrades to the southern elevation; and a high-quality flexible workspace

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

Albany Green

An existing dead space, this project will integrate the reactivated Victoria Barracks with the Columbine Building and the historic Esplanade to the north, acting as a focal point for activity and a catalyst for future enhancements.

A regeneration for East Cowes

Overall outcomes of the Venture Quays projects:

  • Employment space accommodating 106 new jobs 
  • Sailing Academy supporting 32 new jobs
  • 10 new apprenticeships 
  • Strengthened partnerships between FE, HE and marine employers 
  • High-quality, visible placemaking 
  • Amenity benefits Longer-term outcomes 
  • Support East Cowes position as a key node in the Solent marine and maritime economy 
  • Catalyse the further regeneration of East Cowes 
  • Support the raising of aspiration and outcomes for disadvantaged young people


This project is made possible by