The future of an Isle of Wight road, following a landslide in December 2023, was revealed at a public meeting in Ventnor on Thursday - and the general mood of attendees was not happy.

Leeson Road, which connects Shanklin to Bonchurch and Ventnor, was closed on December 10, due to a major landslide, which saw 20 properties evacuated for a time.

Following the landslide, the IW Council commissioned an independent investigation and risk assessment of the area, with Island Roads launching its own parallel study on the feasibility of opening part of, or all of, the road.

Isle of Wight County Press: Leeson Road closureLeeson Road closure (Image: IWCP)

At a public meeting, held at Ventnor’s St Catherine’s Church this evening (Thursday), the council released updates on Leeson Road, Ventnor Eastern Esplanade, the Environment Agency’s Ventnor coastal programme and Island Roads’ progress on the Cascade.

Attendees discovered that Leeson Road will not reopen, for vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians, as further monitoring is required, despite the road not being "directly affected in its current integrity," and the road surface not moving.

At the meeting, Natasha Dix, the council’s service director for waste, environment, and planning, said the 2023 landslide was the most significant ever seen, more so than previous slips in 1994 and 2001.

Around 16 hectares of land has been displaced, with 14 million cubic metres of materials lost.

Independent analysis by surveyors Jacobs has discovered there is a short term risk of further smaller collapses around the fringe of the original December 2023 landslide.

Jacobs suggested a 20m safety buffer zone should be put in place, and the council has agreed to the suggestion.

Island Roads said monitoring equipment will be installed and configured during March.

A question was raised suggesting authorities are being 'overly cautious' by not allowing at least cyclists and pedestrians to use Leeson Road.

A spokesperson replied that the road remaining closed eliminates the risk, but admitted it could be "possibly overcautious" to ensure public safety.

The Island's MP, Bob Seely, made a statement at the meeting, saying he is "very sympathetic" towards the crowd gathered inside St Catherine's.

Mr Seely said, in his opinion, that residents should have the choice as to whether they want to use Leeson Road, suggesting it could be reopened to be used "at your own risk," but admitted the legal issues surrounding that make it impossible.

Leeson Road being closed increases the risk of further damage in Wroxall and Upper Ventnor, including The Graben, said Mr Seely.

There is no indication on when the road will reopen, and the next meeting to update residents will be held at the end of April.