New housing in La Charroterie for health staff should help the service recover from the “mini crisis” it is in - but more is needed.
The Guernsey Housing Association is working on revised plans for the former CI Tyres site where it wants to build 54 one-bedroom units, intended for keyworkers in health.
Employment & Social Security has political responsibility for the States’ relationship with the GHA.
Its president Peter Roffey said that Health & Social Care says that one of the biggest problems with both recruitment and retention is the difficulty that staff have in finding affordable rental accommodation.
“If we want our health services to recover from what I would say is a mini crisis that we're in at the moment, maybe being slightly controversial there, then clearly this is one aspect of it,” said Deputy Roffey.
“We're responsible for affordable housing in the island and key worker housing is a part of that. So we were keen to play our part. This site is not a million miles from the PEH. So it seemed like an ideal site for key worker housing.”
The site was bought by the GHA, with States grant support, in August 2022 for £1.7m.
There will also be an element of public grant funding towards the capital costs of the building, with the majority borrowed by the GHA.
Earlier this month, Policy & Resources decided to freeze spending on major capital projects until the summer in favour of having another debate in July on what the money should be spent on.
“Inside the capital allocation, there is a discrete sum which was set aside for affordable housing, which is supposed to be only for that and not for anything else,” said Deputy Roffey.
“So I don't really see why the freeze would apply to that. But I have to say this scheme has gone through P&R and they have approved it by a majority. So I presume that that's already gone through the gateway, and therefore we don't have to worry too much about that.”
If all goes smoothly, the flats should be ready by early 2024.
Deputy Roffey said there were two sides to HSC's accommodation problems, one is the immediate need for those coming in without any, the other was the requirement to move people out of rental units around the island that want to be closer to the hospital in purpose built facilities.
That would free this accommodation for local people to move into.
“So certainly this will not be enough. We need more than just this. But we are working on it. We're always on the lookout for parcels of land that are suitable for key worker housing and particularly those that are in close proximity to the main health facilities and mainly the PEH.”
HSC is keen to build houses on a field at the PEH, with a controversial application for outline permission to create an initial 66 units submitted in December.
Pictured: The field at the PEH that Health wants to build houses on.
There are ongoing negotiations about buying other sites, Deputy Roffey said, which he could not name while the talks were happening.
The GHA also have more general sites like the Fontaine Vinery, for 91 homes, and Parc Le Lacheur, which is earmarked for 131 homes in the Salt Pans, in the pipeline.
Pictured: How Parc Le Lacheur could look.
Deputy Roffey continued: “If you look at the strategic needs indicators to be debated by the States this month, it says that actually, we need 721 new units of affordable housing over the next five years. Well, we definitely don't have the sites to develop that. And more importantly, we don't have the money to develop that. So perversely, while P&R is saying we need to cut back on public spending and capital spending, my message is if you've got any chance of actually achieving our affordable housing targets, we need to put far more money in capital funding into the affordable housing programme.”
When the site was purchased, the idea was to build about 25 units.
At the time, he said, the planners were not keen on high rise because of the heritage status of the two buildings alongside.
“I think they've changed their mind. You know, they realise that land is finite, and we have to make best use of it. We did go to HSC and say, ‘Well, what would you prefer, 25 now, or nine months or a year delay and then 54,’ and on balance, they went with the 54. So we're the agents here but it was HSC’s decision over which route to go down.”
More flats planned for health staff at former CI Tyres site
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