The Wildheart Trust in Sandown could be treated as a ‘special buyer’ for a strip of land owned by the Isle of Wight Council which adjoins its site.

The popular Wildheart Animal Sanctuary – formerly Sandown Zoo – on Yaverland Road has been a staple of The Bay area for over 4 decades.

Today, the trust that runs it wants to acquire the small piece of land that lies directly behind the sanctuary’s existing boundaries. He says the land has “enormous potential” to expand its offer to tourists and support its charitable activities.

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He has asked the council to be treated as a special buyer for the site and has submitted a formal request which will be considered by the Cabinet next Thursday (12 May).

If approved, a separate decision will be required regarding any transfer or lease of the land following negotiations.

In a letter to the board, Lawrence Bates, the trust’s chief operating officer, said:

“Land is a key resource for our charity to support our operations and, with no possibility of forward expansion, such a strip of land would allow us to grow and develop the charity so that it can continue to support the community and rescued animals for decades to come.

“Our use would be entirely in line with biosphere guidelines, supporting the island’s goals of becoming an increasingly rich wildlife vacation destination.”

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Advisor Chris Jarman, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance, said:

“The Wildheart Trust runs a popular and long-established tourist attraction and is looking to invest in and develop its facility and the additional land will enable it to achieve its ambitions.

“The land in question is currently unused and unmanaged and is not identified as having strategic value.

“The divestiture to the trust would support their investment in the wildlife sanctuary, help sustain the tourism economy and potentially provide the opportunity to create additional jobs and increase visitor numbers to the Bay Area.”

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