The Policy & Resources Committee is distancing itself from a plan to build up to 90 large private homes on the site of the Castel Hospital and surrounding fields despite it being unveiled as a flagship housing policy of the Committee by one if its own members less than three weeks ago.
On 10 January, Deputy David Mahoney, the Committee’s lead on property, said: “We are very aware that the island also desperately needs three-, four- and five-bedroom houses for families to buy and occupy and that is what the Policy & Resources Committee is proposing for the Castel site.”
Despite Deputy Mahoney presenting the plan publicly as a proposal from the Policy & Resources Committee, a statement released by the Committee yesterday (Friday) said it was only Deputy Mahoney’s “vision for the site” and that “the Committee has not yet held a formal review of the plans”.
In what some critics of the original plan will see as an indication that the Committee will take it no further, its statement added that it was “cognisant of other ideas that are being raised” for use of the Castel Hospital site.
When announcing the Castel Hospital homes plan, Deputy Mahoney cited it as one example of the Policy & Resources Committee “getting things done”. Speaking of that plan and other plans to develop States’ properties, he said: “We don’t want to debate it endlessly because we need to make progress".
Pictured: It is understood that there is now little prospect of the States seeing through Deputy David Mahoney's idea of developing green fields around the Castel Hospital site for dozens of large private homes.
At a public hearing held by the Scrutiny Management Committee on 12 January, members of the Policy & Resources Committee said they had seen Deputy Mahoney’s announcement before it was published, provided input and approved it. Pressed on whether it was a personal initiative from Deputy Mahoney or a policy of the Committee endorsed by its members, Deputy Mahoney told the hearing that it was “clearly my position” but claimed the development plans he had published were broadly the position of the Committee.
Yesterday, the Committee said that “ideas for the Castel site are in the very early stages”.
“Deputy Mahoney has presented the community with a vision for the site and the Committee was aware of it prior to release,” said the Committee.
“But the Committee has not yet held a formal review of the plans and is cognisant of other ideas that are being raised. The Committee is taking note of the public debate about the site.
“Also, the Committee is actively looking at ways to further assist the delivery of housing. The Committee will engage with stakeholders, including the Committees for Employment & Social Security and Health & Social Care.”
Pictured: It has emerged that Deputy Mahoney presented a plan for up to 90 large family homes on the site of the Castel Hospital and surrounding fields as a proposal from the Policy & Resources Committee when the other members of the Committee had barely discussed his idea, let alone endorsed it.
Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Committee for Employment & Social Security, was one of several States’ members to raise objections to the plans for up to 90 private homes on the Castel Hospital site and surrounding fields. He wants to see the Hospital site – but not the surrounding fields – developed as social housing or specialist housing such as for key workers.
“I am delighted to have recently received a reassuring response from the Policy & Resources Committee to an earlier letter from me, and subsequent emails, expressing my grave concerns over the proposed scheme for the Castel Hospital site and its surroundings,” said Deputy Roffey.
“That reply states clearly that it is not any kind of definitive plan, but rather simply one option for the use of the site, and is still very much in an embryonic stage.
“Policy & Resources have told me that they have not, as a Committee, reviewed any plans at all for the site and Deputy Mahoney had simply presented one vision which had stimulated useful debate.
"I confess that when I read what appeared to be a quasi-official media spread from Policy & Resources’ lead member on property matters, revealing plans to develop 90 substantial family homes at the location, I got a quite different impression. It came across as a very definite plan.
“I can't express strongly enough my relief at being disabused of this misunderstanding. Knowing the site well from 14 years’ service on various health committees, I am very well aware that a development of such a scale would need to spill over well beyond the current development footprint into the important green fields around the old hospital site. That really would be unacceptable, so I am delighted to learn that it is far from set in stone.
Pictured: Deputy Peter Roffey wants to see social or specialist housing on the site of the Castel Hospital and no development at all on the green fields which surround the site.
“I fully accept that all sectors of the housing market need servicing, but many private developers already have access to sites earmarked for housing and are well able to focus on the upper reaches of the private housing sector. In contrast, the Guernsey Housing Association only have two sites in the pipeline, which are nowhere near sufficient to cater for the needs of the social rental, partial ownership, key worker and specialist housing markets.
“Therefore, I think the first option to be considered for the Castel Hospital site should be social and affordable housing, which by serendipity could indeed produce 90 homes within the footprint of the developed area and would not require any fields to be sacrificed. I will continue to lobby Policy & Resources to that end".
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