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

The popular Wildheart Animal Sanctuary – formerly Sandown Zoo – on Yaverland Road has been a key feature of the Bay Area for more than 4 decades.

Now the trust that runs it wants to acquire the small piece of land that runs just beyond the existing boundary of the sanctuary. It says the country has “huge potential” to expand what it offers to tourists and support its charitable activities.

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She has asked the council to be treated as a special buyer for the site and has made a formal application to be considered by Cabinet next Thursday (May 12).

A separate decision is required on a possible sale or lease of the property in the event of approval after negotiations.

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

“Land is a key resource for our charity to support our operations and as there is no room to expand forward, such a swathe of land would allow us to expand and develop the charity so it can continue to serve the community and Supporting the rescued animals can take decades to come.

“Our use would be fully in line with biosphere guidelines and would support the island’s goals of becoming an ever-growing wildlife vacation destination.”

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

“The Wildheart Trust manages a popular and long-established tourist attraction and are looking to invest in and expand their facility and the additional land will enable them to achieve their ambitions.

“The land in question is currently unused and uncultivated and has no strategic value.

“Divestment to the Trust would support their investment in the shelter, help sustain the tourism economy and potentially provide an opportunity to create additional jobs and increase visitor numbers in the Bay Area.”

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