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Reopening Date For Leeson Road Still In Limbo Following Bonchurch Landslide

The public meeting held last night

No date has been given for the reopening of a once-busy Isle of Wight road, after the Bonchurch landslide, nearly four months ago.

At a public meeting last night (Thursday), Ventnor residents were told the integrity of Leeson Road was not affected, when 16 hectares of land and 14 million cubic metres of material were suddenly displaced.

Island Roads director Rob Gillespie apologised for the degree of caution being taken over the Shanklin to Ventnor road’s future.

He said reopening would take some time, but safety is the top priority.

More monitoring equipment will be installed this month, in  100-metre deep boreholes, to assess the wider, general geological movement and measurements will be taken over a period of at least five weeks.

“We will move as quickly as we can to use the information to reach a position where we can decide, with other agencies, what we are doing and when the road could reopen, albeit we expect with some restrictions,” said Mr Gillespie.

On December 10, the landslide, described by the Isle of Wight Council’s environment service director, Natasha Dix, as one of the largest, most significant landslides on Britain’s south coast,  saw residents evacuated and some homes abandoned.

Residents asked why it could not immediately be reopened to pedestrians, cyclists, cars and motorcyclists, with signs saying ‘use at your own risk’.

One Leeson Road resident said if their house, which is now sitting near a cliff edge, has not been condemned, the road could surely be reopened.

Mr Gillespie said risks remain and safety comes first.

Isle of Wight Council’s community services director, Colin Rowland, said more data is required and he revealed talks are underway with the government about financial support, both for road repairs and to offset the impact on small businesses.

Meanwhile, we are told to stay away from the area, due to a continued risk of further collapse.

Ms Dix said the Isle of Wight Council “cannot pretend there will not be more landslides … but Ventnor has come back from this before.
“Trees will grow and hopefully we will get back to having a coastal path
.”

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