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Fort Tourgis investment "reliant on air links"

Fort Tourgis investment

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Fort Tourgis investment "reliant on air links"

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Uncertainty over the future of Alderney's air links has stalled an £18 million project to develop a Victorian fort into a 72-room hotel, States Members have claimed.

Developers from Move Development have travelled from the Netherlands to brief all 10 States members on the progress of the ambitious plan.

They said the plan to transform the crumbling Fort Tourgis into a five star hotel and conference centre, complete with swimming pool, restaurants and parking area will bring 7,000 extra visitors to Alderney, 50 permanent jobs and fill planes.

Last year in the States Economic Performance report its transformation formed a key part of Alderney's economic rejuvenation. The developers predicted that it could be open for business in early 2020.

alderney airport

Pictured: Alderney Airport. 

But according to island politicians the delay over a decision on the public service agreement has put progress on hold. Of particular concern was the survival of the direct route to Southampton – which Alderney Airport research recently revealed was mainly used by visitors – which currently looks set to lose States of Guernsey subsidy.

After a meeting between all 10 States members and the two-strong team of Dutch developers, Policy and Finance Committee Chairman James Dent said: “Investment in Fort Tourgis, or indeed any major new investment in Alderney, seems to be completely dependent on guarantees for Alderney’s air links. The delay on investment decisions for Fort Tourgis is a direct consequence of the doubt and delay over the PSO decision.” 

However, according to other States Members,  air links are not the only factor causing delays.

Fort Tourgis

Pictured: An artist's impression of what Fort Tourgis could look like. The developers claim it could bring 7,000 new visitors to the island of 2,000. 

Built in 1885 Fort Tourgis  has been derelict for decades. Previous plans to renovate it have included efforts to turn the site into flats, a luxury hotel, a casino and a hangar.

Move Development have been in talks with the States about their hotel plans since 2004 and for many years held the exclusive option to develop it. In that period the parent company went bust and the option to develop Tourgis fell away. However the development arm of the firm reformed and approached the States in 2014 then in 2017 with a revived plan to transform Tourgis in partnership with Exclusive Hotels.  Despite political enthusiasm, the public met the proposals with skepticism.

This latest time around Move Development, working with the British accommodation group Exclusive Hotels, indicated that the Dutch government was prepared to financially guarantee the scheme. However, no evidence of that has been produced and due diligence has still to be completed. It is understood that at the meeting the developers failed to produce proof of Dutch government guarantees further than a letter from a government agency indicating it was something that would be considered.

Move Development wants the State of Alderney to guarantee #4 million for the scheme and release the freehold to the fort. One States Member said: 'Given all these doubts it would be risky to assume that the redevelopment of Tourgis is the key to our economic recovery."

Pictured top: Artist's impressions of the hotel. 

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