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States back GHA's £4.75m deal for housing on data park site

States back GHA's £4.75m deal for housing on data park site

Wednesday 29 June 2022

States back GHA's £4.75m deal for housing on data park site

Wednesday 29 June 2022


Nearly 200 homes could be built on land off Route Militaire previously earmarked for a business park.

The Guernsey Housing Association has bought the 16-acre site for £4.75million with the backing of the States' Committee for Employment & Social Security.

They want to develop the site with a mix of key worker housing, social rental housing and partial ownership properties and say it could "make real inroads into addressing the housing requirements of different types of affordable housing".

The site, pictured top, is currently zoned in the Island Development Plan as a Key Industrial Area. An application will be made requesting the Development & Planning Authority to re-zone the land for housing under planning policy S5, which can be used to expedite change of use for developments of strategic importance to the island. 

"The exact number of units proposed will be developed as part of pre-planning application discussions with the Development & Planning Authority. However, very early predictions suggest it could accommodate about 190 homes depending on the amount of the site able to be developed," said the States and the Association.

Leales_Yard_and_Fontaine_Vinery.jpg

Pictured: The business park joins Leale's Yard (left) and Fontaine Vinery as sites in the north of the island now earmarked for large housing developments.

The site has been purchased from the RED fund, a real estate developer based locally, which bought it only in 2019 for £1.6m.

The site will be returned to the States for alternative use if the Authority does not allow it to be developed for affordable housing.

Deputy Peter Roffey, the President of the Committee for Employment & Social Security, which is responsible for social housing, admitted the States were taking a risk backing an expensive investment in a site without certainty that it could be developed for housing.

"Our Committee felt it was a calculated risk to take," said Deputy Roffey, pictured top right.

"The island is in desperate need of more affordable housing, across all areas of key worker, social rental and partial ownership, and taking action to help alleviate these pressures is a priority for the States.

"Our Committee is confident that the threshold for policy S5 can be met on the basis that the proposed development would make a significant contribution towards meeting the island’s urgent and increasing affordable housing requirements and is of strategic importance."

Employment & Social Security Committee

Pictured: The Committee for Employment & Social Security says it has taken "a calculated risk" by backing the multi-million pound purchase of the business park site before planning permission is obtained for housing.

"While that is our preferred route, two alternatives also exist: a site-specific amendment to the Island Development Plan or seeking the re-zoning of the site under the general review of the Plan later this States' term," said Deputy Roffey.

"If none of those routes work, which we feel is unlikely, then the States will own a unique site that it can use in an alternative way.

"Land values are such in Guernsey that we believe public funds being spent on this site represents minimal risk in terms of value for money. We have discussed this with the Policy & Resources Committee and were grateful of their support for this approach."

PEH_nurses_key_worker_housing.jpg

Pictured: Healthcare is among essential services finding it harder to recruit because of a shortage of key worker and other affordable housing.  

Steve Williams, Chief Executive of the Association, said he had around 500 people on waiting lists for partial ownership and social rental housing and "that some of the island’s critical services are in dire need of key worker accommodation to secure appropriate staff".

"We are doing all we can to maximise opportunities to develop more housing to meet the needs of the community," said Mr Williams, pictured top left.

The business park at Route Militaire is the latest in a series of large sites in the north of the island earmarked for housing in recent months. They include proposed developments by the Association at Fontaine Vinery and Kenilworth Vinery - now known as Parc Le Lacheur - and the Co-op's proposed development at Leale's Yard. 

The developers and the States hope those sites alone will provide more than 700 new homes over the next few years, the majority of which would be social housing, partial ownership and key worker accommodation.

Pictured: The States' announcement provoked some public concerns about further development in the north of the island. 

Mr Williams asked residents in St Sampson's and the Vale concerned by over-development not to be alarmed and said the Association recognised that changes would be necessary to cope with additional pressure in that part of the island.  

"I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure islanders living in the north that, should this development progress, plans will include significant improvements to infrastructure," he said.

"It would be a catalyst to maximise the opportunity to address and develop a comprehensive approach to transport connectivity, including cycle and pedestrian networks. We also intend to include plans to create a major new public amenity space."

cycling (actual size)

Pictured: The Guernsey Housing Association says it is committed to infrastructure improvements alongside proposed housing developments in the north of the island.

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