The Common Space

The Common Space is a not-for-profit organisation on the Isle of Wight and part of the Arc, Artecology hub. We manage, restore, celebrate and create public spaces. The Common Space is based in The Bay, on the east coast of the Island, and has a special focus on its own local area, in particular the work of the Bay Coastal Community Team, Shaping The Bay.

Public Space is the Arena for Living

We believe that streetscapes, parks and greens, esplanades and squares, and every patch of public land and every public building are together the life support system that we have lost the instructions for. So we’re writing some new ones…

The Common Space takes a grassroots approach to local regeneration, something to temper the worst excesses of political ‘pace’ and expediency. We are rethinking public assets and public services as capital for a different kind of social investment in positive change, something that will protect the integrity, sense and character of a place, something that works to underpin local incomes and trade, thinks about health and well-being in an everyday context, celebrates local skills and protects local social, cultural and environmental conditions – the ‘constitution’ of a place and of a community. The Common Space wants to unite people in a common cause – making places better for living.

The Common Space has raised over £500,000 since 2016, funding:

o historic building restoration, Recharging the Battery at Sandown Battery (now home to the National Poo Museum) and the PLUTO Pavilion (now home to Men In Sheds!).

o rewilding, new public footpaths and nature trails: The Lost Duver coastal wildflower project, Willow Walk and Reed Bed Walk, Sandown Seedbank.

o new free public facilities and attractions, including the new High Street brewery and gallery, Boojum & Snark.

o annual programme of free public events, Discovery Bay and including Hullabaloo. Publicised through DMO, Visit Isle of Wight. This work led directly to the Bay’s BBC Countryfile Britain’s Best Beach Award 2019 and to this year’s nomination for Best UK Destination 2020 and to the Bay’s addition to the Visit IW, Slow Guide to the Island.

o annual visitors to Browns for Discovery Bay, Hullabaloo, golf and café, to Battery Gardens for our free Christmas celebration, The Christmas Garden, and all other free Sandown walks and events: 55,000.

o Hullabaloo At Home, 88,000 people reached, global reach with 30 different countries visiting our and Shademakers’ virtual festival, dozens of Island and national creatives and environmental organisations supported or showcased as we brought the festival online in response to the pandemic with the help of Arts Council England funding.

o Business and Employment: from empty buildings and skeleton golf staff in 2013 to 20 local jobs and 6 small businesses are now based here including Arc, part of the team behind the Isle of Wight’s UNESCO Biosphere designation, and Artecology whose innovations in designing for biodiversity in the built environment have helped to secure the Bay as a hub for the emerging field of ‘eco-engineering’.

o Universities brought to Sandown, including engagement with local schools: 8 (long-term research collaborations with Glasgow, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Oxford).

o Sandown Green Towns Volunteers and The Common Space’s collaboration secured the town’s nomination for Britain in Bloom 2020.

o Currently at the centre of the next Heritage Lottery Landscape Partnership bid to bring £1.5M to Sandown and the wider Bay in 2021.

Day to day, The Common Space has also been building less quantifiable activity, around better and more productive use of public space to support health and education outcomes, work here with young carers, probation teams, housing associations actively using the Browns site, by opening up and using forgotten and abandoned parts of the public estate, in order to provide free and local activity and even respite, for people in need of some help and support.

Our base at Browns is no longer a semi-derelict backwater! Instead, and through public effort, it’s a thriving and busy hub, of business, community, tourism, research and support to the rest of the town and the Isle of Wight, ‘Britain in Miniature’ as Britain all over could be.

This year, The Common Space helped secure the Island’s top spot in The Guardian’s World Travel Hotlist, ‘Our pick of 20 places to visit in 2020 celebrates inspiring conservation and community projects that are making a difference to people and the planet’.

Please contact The Common Space team to find out more about current campaigns, ways that you can help and get involved, and links to the great work of other people trying to achieve the same thing – a better public realm for everyone!


Facebook: The Common Space 

Twitter: @spaceiw