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FOCUS on Leale's Yard: "We want people to live, work and play on site"

FOCUS on Leale's Yard:

Tuesday 19 April 2022

FOCUS on Leale's Yard: "We want people to live, work and play on site"

Tuesday 19 April 2022


The developers who are partnering with the Co-op to put forward the latest plans for Leale's Yard believe they are proposing the largest single development project ever undertaken in Guernsey.

Charles McHugh, founder of Strategic Development Partnership, and Jeremy Rihoy, Chairman of Rihoy & Son, are working with the Co-op to propose turning the 13-acre site into 300 homes, a new food store, other retail space, a multi-storey car park for more than 300 vehicles and various civic and green areas.

They say their proposal - for which a planning application was recently submitted - is "a huge vote of confidence in Guernsey and its future". 

"If you look at the site as a whole, I think there has probably not been anything larger than this done in Guernsey before," said Mr Rihoy.

Mr McHugh agreed. "If you take into account the Co-op's investment and and the investment of others, yes, I think it probably is the largest development project for Guernsey," he said. 

"The last big investment like this was Admiral Park and that was 20+ years ago," said Mr McHugh. "Nothing like that has happened since. And Leale's Yard is around twice the size of Admiral Park."

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Pictured: An artist's impression of the latest development plans for Leale's Yard, which the proposers say is unrivalled locally in its size and scope.

The plans have already received strong backing from several senior States' members, including the island's most senior politician, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, and senior parochial officials from the Vale and St Sampson's.

Leale's Yard, which is derelict, stretches from immediately behind the shops on the seafront at The Bridge to Lowlands. The Co-op has owned it for more than 20 years, but was unable to realise two previous proposals to develop the site.

"This time, the Co-op has got it the right way around. The development partners are there at the start of the project," said Mr McHugh.

"This time, it's not a case of getting planning permission and then looking for a development partner. We are here at the outset with a fully-funded scheme."

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Pictured: This is the Co-op's third attempt to develop Leale's Yard.

The Co-op's first aborted plan for the site was for a retail development; the second was for a housing development. 

Mark Cox, Chief Executive of the Channel Islands' retailer, said it had "learned from the previous two attempts" and agreed that "this time it's different".

"The difference this time is that the scheme is not overly focused on only one aspect - like housing or retail," said Mr Cox. "It's very much mixed use with retail, housing and some commercial light industrial at the back of the site. 

"We've also done a lot of work upfront to find development partners, which means we're confident that, if we get planning permission, we'll be able to deliver it this time.

"We've promised a new Co-op store in the north of the island for years and this development gives us an opportunity to provide it...in a scheme which can be game-changing for the island."

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Pictured: The Co-op intends to sell the site of its current flagship store in Nocq Road in St Sampson's if it realises its plan to build a larger food store nearby at Leale's Yard.

The development partners are pledging that the housing element of their proposed scheme will help prospective first time buyers in particular.

"This is very much aimed at first time buyers and the people who are otherwise struggling to get into the housing market. The prices will be set accordingly," said Mr Rihoy.

"We have included in our plans 104 starter homes specifically aimed at first time buyers," said Mr McHugh.

"We're trying to build affordable units here...we're trying to be on a par with the Guernsey Housing Association's prices. So it's going to be market-changing for the lower end of the market."

The Guernsey Housing Association has said that it hopes to reach a deal with the Co-op to include partial ownership and rental properties in the scheme.

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Pictured: Express recently reported on the Guernsey Housing Association's hopes to be part of the development at Leale's Yard.

The total number of homes planned for the site - around 320 - represents more than 1% of the island's existing housing stock. The developers are confident that their proposed 'modular build' methods will allow the first homeowners or residents to move in within three years of obtaining planning permission for the development, which they hope the States' Development & Planning Authority will provide this year. 

"The housing, the apartments are going to be built using modular construction," said Mr Rihoy. "So that's off-site construction whereby the units are prepared elsewhere and are then transferred to the site basically as a finished product. They are then craned off the back of a lorry and into place - then you plug in the electricity and water and off you go. 

"All of the housing accommodation will be like that. It will come out of a factory in the UK - probably in Yorkshire - and be transported here and onto the site. That is a completely new thing for Guernsey. It is now a well-travelled path in the UK, but it has never before been done here."

Mr Cox said that such "innovative methods" are necessary because using more traditional building methods on a project of the size proposed would require too many labourers and take too long. 

WATCH: This video shows the modular build methods which Rihoy & Son intend to make use of to put up more than 300 homes at Leale's Yard.

Mr Cox hopes to see the Co-op's proposed new food store at Leale's Yard and the proposed multi-storey car park also opening around three years after planning permission has been obtained.

He said the food store "will be slightly larger" than the Co-op's existing store in Nocq Road.

"It will have retail space of about 15,000 square feet - close to the size we've got in St Martin's," he said. "It's not a huge store by any means."

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Pictured: The proposed food store at Leale's Yard would be nearly as large as the Co-op's existing food store in Route des Camps in St Martin's. 

"It will have a second floor of retail above and we'll be looking to partner with somebody to have a non-food retail offer. We're also looking to put in some staff accommodation as well. And on the ground floor there will be some commercial units dotted throughout the scheme," said Mr Cox.

"What we’re trying to achieve is a scheme which allows you to live on the site, work on the site and play on the site - with amenities like restaurants, bars, cafés, hairdressers and GP doctors.

"We’re also hoping it will generate some further investment on The Bridge, which is much needed. We own a number of properties on the Bridge. We want the Bridge to come alive.

"It’s not a threat to St Peter Port at all. This is about serving the immediate community in the north of the island. We want to put this land back into meaningful use and to do it as quickly as we can."

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Pictured (left to right): Mark Cox, Chief Executive of the Co-op; Jeremy Rihoy, Chairman of Rihoy & Son; and Charles McHugh, Founder and Partner of Strategic Development Partnership.

READ MORE of Express' extensive coverage of the plans for Leale's Yard... 

"Leale's Yard a real boost - but the States need to do a lot more"

Co-op plans "good for homes, good for business, good for community"

GHA hopes to add rental and specialist housing to Leale's Yard

Leale's Yard proposals receive mixed reviews from Bridge businesses

Latest plans out for Leale's Yard - with 300+ homes and a new Co-op

Parishes welcome Leale's Yard plans to help rejuvenate The Bridge

Strong support for Leale's Yard plans from senior States' members 

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