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FOCUS: Property rationalisation - This is where we are

FOCUS: Property rationalisation - This is where we are

Wednesday 14 February 2024

FOCUS: Property rationalisation - This is where we are

Wednesday 14 February 2024

The States of Guernsey own hundreds of parcels of land and properties. It’s a wide-ranging portfolio that includes everything from toilet blocks to Brehon Tower and it’s a portfolio that the government has been trying to rationalise for more than two decades.

The States Property Unit (SPU) has been working to do this in line with the evolution of the entire public sector. The Unit has sought to reduce costs and make the best use of its portfolio of properties, some of which have been in the hands of the government for more than 100 years.

It’s a big job.

The estate is vast, diverse and most of it plays an essential part in supporting the operation of our government.

The vast majority of assets are used to support the community, via provision of social housing and infrastructure. This includes all the schools, airports, parks and ports that fall under the responsibility of the States. The most valuable collection of properties and plots of land comprises the harbours of Guernsey, totalling about 73 acres of land.

While evolving plans to reduce the States’ property portfolio have been kicking around for more than two decades, there have been several recent developments, and the Property Rationalisation Programme has seen the most major developments already undertaken.

The process is now falling under ‘business as usual’ for the SPU, where it’ll vacate and reorganise smaller properties over the next couple of years.

The big ticket items

The main drive for the programme has been to reduce the estate down so the day to day operation of the island’s government can be centred in two main hubs; Sir Charles Frossard House and Edward T Wheadon House.

frossard house PF&A

Pictured: PF&A has previously suggested turning the car park at Frossard House into a residential development.

The biggest steps taken recently with this being the goal in mind was the sale of Grange Road House and the decision to vacate the former income tax building on Cornet Street.

Grange Road House used to house the Education Department, and before that the site was home to the Schools’ Dental Service and way before that it housed The Ladies College. The listed property was sold on to Queens Road Medical practice in 2022, so the healthcare provider could expand its operation.

Those working in the former Income Tax office at The Albany have moved to Edward T Wheadon House, and the vacated office has now been rented out to various smaller businesses since 2019, while still remaining under States ownership.

The sale of surplus properties over the past two years has raised close to £6million.

Elsewhere, Raymond Falla House, the Old Tobacco Factory and the Motor Tax office on Bulwer avenue have all been nearly completely vacated, with all three sites remaining available to the States.

The Castel Hospital and the King Edward VII sites

Two of the States more contentious and disputed sites remain the Castel Hospital and the King Edward VII site.

king Edward jan 2024

Pictured: The King Edward VII hospital site is littered with abandoned vehicles.

Despite some parts of it still being in use by the Community Nurses, the Castel Hospital has been left in a derelict state for several years and dozens of ideas have been kicked around for the use of the entire building and site, including new key worker housing.

The KEVII site is home to the fostering and adoption teams and some secure housing for adolescents with car parking issues causing problems for nearby residents who have complained about abandoned vehicles since the hospital itself closed in 2014.

When asked about the ongoing rationalisation programme, the States said “plans for both the Castel Hospital and KEVII sites are also progressing, and those sites will, in time, either be disposed of or redeveloped subject to the availability of funds and the outcome discussions with third parties”.

Deputy Bob Murray is the current property lead for the Policy and Resources Committee, he said the States’ estate is complex.

“P&R remain committed to the continuation of the rationalisation programme however, there are many interdependencies to enable further phases which includes investment in the retained properties. As the new lead for P&R on Property I look forward to working with the SPU team to continue to drive efficiencies and opportunities from the States property portfolio.

“I’d also like to express my thanks to Deputy Mahoney who previously led this term on property matters including the establishment of the States Property Unit.”

This article first appeared in the February edition of CONNECT, Express' sister publication. 

The latest edition of CONNECT can be read HERE.

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