The Ventnor Undercliff (including the town of Ventnor and the villages of Bonchurch, St. Lawrence, parts of Niton, and Luccombe) and areas of Cowes and Gurnard (along the northern slopes of the town and village) are built on pre-existing landslide features, which form the distinctive coastal terraces and landscapes of the areas, with implications for the towns and their communities.

Advice and information for homeowners and interested organisations in the areas affected by landsliding and ground movement has been developed. Details and links to this information are provided on this page.

Additionally, information about all coastal areas of the Isle of Wight can be found within the current Isle of Wight Shoreline Mangement Plan, available here (see Main Document -Chapter 4).

Landslide Management:

Detailed geotechnical studies commissioned by the Council have shown that it may be possible to reduce the likelihood and impact of future ground movements in certain situations if a coordinated approach to managing ground instability is adopted.

The Isle of Wight Council is continuing to develop policies to manage and mitigate coastal erosion and ground movement problems around the Island's coastline.

The actions taken by homeowners and developers on their properties can contribute to the ground stability situation in areas vulnerable to ground movement.

1. Advice to Homeowners leaflets

Two leaflets are available to assist homeowners by providing advice on property maintainance, control of water in the ground, management of slopes, and related issues in two areas of the Isle of Wight:

  • Ventnor Undercliff (including the town of Ventnor and the villages of Bonchurch, St. Lawrence, parts of Niton, and Luccombe). To download the full leaflet 'Advice to Homeowners -Managing ground Instability on the Isle of Wight' please click here.

  • Cowes and Gurnard (in parts of the area, along the northern slopes of the town and village). To download the full leaflet on 'Coastal Slope Stability at Cowes and Gurnard, Isle of Wight', please click here.

Ventnor Undercliff

Cowes & Gurnard


2. Book: The Undercliff of the Isle of Wight
-A guide to managing ground instability, August 2007

Extending for a distance of 12km from Blackgang in the west to Bonchurch in the east, and including the town of Ventnor and the villages of Bonchurch, St Lawrence, Niton and Blackgang, the Undercliff is the largest urban landslide complex in northwestern Europe. It is one of the most scenic parts of the Isle of Wight coastline, arising from its geological history and the ongoing processes of coastal erosion and landsliding. Parts of the area are affected by ground movement.

This 2007 guide is intended to provide practical information for all those with an interest in the Undercliff in a clearly illustrated and readable format.

It is hoped that this book will prove of real use to those involved with a wide range of interests in the area, including homeowners, illustrating how good practice can contribute towards a reduction in the problems of ground movement.

To download the book, please click here (8MB) .

Chapters of the book:

  • Why is there a ground movement problem in the Isle of Wight Undercliff?
  • What is the scale of the instability problem?
  • Investigating and assessing ground movement
  • How can ground instability problems be managed?
  • Climate change and future management


3. Maps: Geomorphology, Ground Behaviour and Planning Guidance Maps

A large amount of work has been undertaken over the past two decades investigating the causes of ground movement on the towns and villages and providing information and advice to reduce it's impacts.

Detailed Geomorphology, Ground Behaviour and Planning Guidance Maps are available for the Ventnor Undercliff and for the Cowes-Gurnard areas, providing information on the ground conditions and the suitability for development at the scale of individual properties.

A new report on 'The Undercliff of the Isle of Wight -A guide to managing Ground Instability' was produced for the Ventnor Underclif in 2007, and can be downloaded from this page (please see the link above).

For further details please contact the Isle of Wight Council Principal Coastal Engineer: or Tel. 01983 821000.



4. Managing Ground Instability in Urban Areas -Book

Additionally, a book on the management of ground instability illustrates examples of good practice from across the European Union and elsewhere, including sinificant content about the Ventnor Undercliff.

The publication was prepared in 2000 in response to a growing awareness of the need to implement preventative planning and landslide management policies to counter a problem which is likely to escalate as a result of both future development pressures and climate change impacts.

To download the book, please click on the chapter headings below:

Chapter 1: What causes instability?
Chapter 2: Indentifying and assessing instability problems
Chapter 3: The importance of instability management
Chapter 4: Managing ground instability
Chapter 5: Ground water and drainage
Chapter 6: Managing slopes and walls
Chapter 7: Encouraging appropriate construction activity
Chapter 8&9: Monitoring instability / Coordinating the local community response to instability / Conclusions & recommendations


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Updated: 30 May, 2014