Cowes Harbour Commission will manage construction of an outer harbour breakwater for Cowes, which would improve shelter and extend season

Cowes Harbour Commission is leading a project to create an outer harbour breakwater for Cowes which would improve the shelter in the harbour and extend the sailing season there. The development is, they say, ‘vital to the Isle of Wight economy and future prosperity of Cowes Harbour’.

Plans for the new outer breakwater have already been approved, but delivery has been delayed by the abolition of the local Regional Development Agency and transfer of its assets to the Homes and Communities Agencies. Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) has been asked to take the lead in managing the improvement to the harbour infrastructure and has taken on this responsibility.

The Cowes Harbour infrastructure project consists of three phases: phase one – construction of the outer breakwater, phase two – a short extension to the existing Shrape Breakwater on the East Cowes side of the harbour, and phase three – the dredging of a new Eastern Channel.

The cost of phase one is expected to be around £6 million, half to be provided by the CHC from a combination of its own financial reserves and a commercial loan against future revenue, with matched funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.

In addition to improving shelter, the breakwater would enable the Homes and Communities Agency to lead the development of a new East Cowes marina capable of accommodating larger yachts and attracting new events to the Isle of Wight. Once appointed, the marina developer will be expected to contribute to the cost and delivery of phases two and three of the harbour infrastructure project.

Harbour Master Stuart McIntosh comments, “Our priority remains phase one, the new breakwater, which CHC aims to deliver. Cowes is not a natural harbour, being very exposed to weather from the north and north-east. However, it is not just the harbour that the breakwater will protect and strengthen, but the local economy.”