The outline application for what could become the largest single housing development in Guernsey has been recommended for approval by the Planning Service, subject to political approval and a long list of conditions.
Several attempts have been made over the past three decades to redevelop the brownfield site at Leales Yard, all of which have failed even after securing planning permission.
But after the most recent application was recommended this week, members of the Development & Planning Authority will hear representations and decide whether to proceed at an Open Planning Meeting on Wednesday 16 November.
The plans include the demolition of all buildings on the site and the construction of 338 units of accommodation, 5,800sqm of retail space, 8,000sqm of commercial space, a multi-storey car park, green spaces, landscaping, new vehicular access to the Bridge and Nocq Road, and service roads.
The homes would be a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments and 18 three-bedroom townhouses. A new Co-op food and retail store is also proposed over two floors, with further small ground floor retail units included alongside seven commercial units.
The developers will also build all the required infrastructure, including taking measures to mitigate flooding from any sea level rises.
The application was submitted by the Channel Islands Co-op Society Ltd & Omnibus Investment Holdings.
Pictured: The project is being delivered by the CI Co-op and Omnibus Investment Holdings.
Mark Cox, Chief Executive of the Channel Islands Co-op, welcomed the publication of the planning report, and hoped that the DPA would approve the plans at next week's Open Planning Meeting.
“The Co-op and our development partner are delighted that the Planning officer’s rigorous technical assessment supports our plans for the redevelopment of the Leale’s Yard site,” he said.
“Along with the overwhelmingly positive response from the local community on the Leale’s Yard re-development, the Co-op are optimistic that the continued hard work and commitment by many on this long-running vision will soon come into fruition.
“This scheme, when it is delivered, will bring over 350 new homes as well as recreation, shopping, community, and employment spaces, on a plot of land that is presently redundant. It is a once-in-a-generation chance to increase the opportunities for young Islanders that are struggling to find a new place they can call home.
“Both the development partner and the Co-op are committed to getting on-site as soon as possible and making progress on realising these worthy outcomes.”
Pictured: The developers must follow a strict timing and sequence schedule throughout the build.
26 conditions have been attached to the proposals based on consultations with key stakeholders.
One demands that there must be “strict accordance with a parking allocation, management and active travel strategy for the construction and operation of the site and a commitment to deliver the scheme in accordance with this strategy”.
No unit or any part of the housing blocks can be occupied “until the car parking associated with that unit has been completed”, and no occupation can happen until land management and maintenance responsibility agreements are made.
Development will not be allowed to commence until full details of new road junctions at Vale Avene/Northside and Nocq Road, and 18 parking spaces next to Commercial Road are published.
An Ecological Management Plan and Ecological Method Statement must be produced and include “specification of proposals for tree and hedge planting, creation of a wildflower meadow, bat friendly lighting, integrated bat and bird boxes, the construction of a bat loft, permeable boundaries, and include ongoing habitat management”.
A landscaping scheme must be published and actioned within the first planting season following the first occupation of any part of the development or completion of development, or as otherwise agreed. If any plants fail, they must be replaced within five years.
Commercial Unit 1 must be no higher than two storeys with no west facing windows to prevent overlooking of neighbours.
There must be subsequent agreement on external lighting, protections on noise for the dwellings above and around the proposed retail and commercial units, and no deliveries to these units outside the hours of 07:00 to 22:00.
A noise assessment related to the power station must also be undertaken.
The Planning Service note that “appreciating that this is an outline planning application with considerable further work to be undertaken before the final details of the scheme can come forward, it is concluded that the balance of benefits accruing from delivery of the scheme outweigh the concerns which can be mitigated so far as possible through the imposition of planning conditions, the statutory requirements for reserved matters and by entry by the applicants into necessary planning covenants”.
Pictured: The plans feature a new flagship store for the Co-op.
Seven letters of representation were made regarding the proposals, which included the following comments:
The Constables of St Sampson say they are confident that the problems in previous applications have been addressed.
“We believe this development is long overdue and will be the key to the much-needed regeneration of the Bridge," they said.
The Constables of the Vale say whilst the overall scheme is welcome there are still concerns relating to density, transport and the methods of construction proposed.
“People have long memories and hark back to the massive housing scheme using ‘state of the art’ construction for that time in the Grand Bouet. Subsequently these houses proved to be sub-standard and people did not want to live in them. Time will tell if supposed ‘state of the art’ construction fails to live up to expectation at Leale’s Yard in years to come,” it said.
“The douzaine is concerned that the pedestrian paths will of an evening become ‘no go’ areas as children and teenagers will be using them as skate and scooter parks along with large numbers of youngsters tearing around on cycles and possibly motor bikes.”
The douzaine said a second multi-storey car park should be constructed, and resistance should be made against attempts to pedestrianise the Bridge.
However, it also claimed that “traffic issues are being pushed to one side in the haste to begin building, and whilst car sharing and other schemes are being proposed, they do not go far enough to change the mind set of car ownership and the usefulness in getting children to school and parents onward to work”.
Pictured: The current composition of the Bridge could create issues with the development.
Traffic and Highway Services noted that the number of homes and commercial spaces would have “an impact in terms of maintaining mobility and free flow of traffic along one of Guernsey’s busiest roads that is also the main freight route.
“Nevertheless, THS considers that the proposals represent a scheme where the applicants are making significant efforts to provide affordable housing at this site with complimentary retail and commercial development, whilst limiting as far as practical impacts on the public highway.
“However, there should be no doubt that development at this site even with the Bridge/North Side junction change proposed is likely to lead to significant increases in peak time queue lengths. The efficiency of the arrangements overall is highly likely to be hampered by retention of the shop front parking arrangements along the Bridge.”
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