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P&R's pursuit of St Martins Hotel deal slowed

P&R's pursuit of St Martins Hotel deal slowed

Tuesday 31 January 2023

P&R's pursuit of St Martins Hotel deal slowed

Tuesday 31 January 2023

States attempts to buy the former St Martins Hotel site have been hindered by planning requirements.

In answering questions about plans to build housing on a green field within the hospital grounds as some argue there are better options, like the hotel, nearby, Policy & Resources President Deputy Peter Ferbrache confirmed that discussions have been on-going in confidence for several years.

“It has a lengthy planning history including lapsed permissions for development but has remained undeveloped,” said Deputy Ferbrache.

“Discussions are not progressing quickly because the owner has also been in discussions centred on the publication of a Development Framework. This would both assist in establishing a range of value for the site and determine its affordability for key worker homes or a mixed tenure site.”


Pictured: An aerial view from the draft development framework showing the boundary of the former St Martins Hotel site in red.

That framework, which indicates what can happen on the site ahead of a formal planning application, was finally published on 19 January.

Deputy Ferbrache said that P&R wrote to the Development & Planning Authority in October about streamlining the development framework process with examples like St Martins Hotel in mind.

Although the committee understands that this requirement is intended to front-load the planning process and ensure that key opportunities and constraints are properly and transparently considered prior to submission of a formal application for planning permission, this process can be seen as an impediment to delivering completion on sites when site evaluations and acquisitions are linked to Development Frameworks,” he said.

“However, the committee would also observe that commercial acquisitions can only move at a pace that satisfies the requirements of both parties.”

The Development Framework was focussed on the site being used for sheltered housing, but said that other types of residential development may be given consideration. The site, which is about 1.25 hectares (7.6 vergées) and could accommodate around 125 dwellings of this, it said.

St Martins Hotel has been derelict for around a decade and suffered fire damage in 2016. The hospital is a 15-minute walk away.

Policy & Resources has submitted an application for outline planning permission to build a three- and four-storey building to provide 66 units of key worker accommodation and parking in a field next to the Duchess of Kent House.

The committee and Health & Social Care argues having the units on site will help with staff recruitment.

Deputy Yvonne Burford submitted the formal questions about the application, including what discussions had taken place with the owner of St Martin’s Hotel.

Deputy Yvonne Burford

Pictured: Deputy Yvonne Burford.

The questioning also revealed that P&R thinks that planners have accepted that the application complies with a special policy which would allow the States to build on the agricultural land.

“It believes that the application would not have been accepted by the D&PA and published if it fell short of the IDP requirements,” said Deputy Ferbrahce in his response.

“The committee has received and displayed the site notice in accordance with legislative requirements which further indicates that the application meets the requirements at this stage. The D&PA needs to be satisfied that the choice of location is justified and represents the best practicable option available. 

“If it determines that it requires more information to satisfy it on these points, it may write to the committee accordingly but that is a matter for that committee of the States to assess with its professional officers. No such request has been received to date.”


Pictured: the field at the PEH that P&R wants to develop housing for staff on.

P&R is relying on a policy known as S5 as a gateway to development. The Island Development Plan states that a detailed and comprehensive site selection study, together with more technical evidence such as environmental, economic and social assessments, is expected as part of the submission for planning permission.

Deputy Burford asked when P&R expected to submit that information, but Deputy Ferbrache said that there was no “requirement” to submit a site selection study or technical assessments.

He also answered why, given the need for this type of accommodation, it had taken nine months since talks started with D&PA to submit the application. 

“This matter was held in abeyance pending the States conclusion of their consideration of a requête focused on this area of land,” he said.

That requete to prevent development failed.

“To progress the application at that stage would have drawn prematurely on limited resources that additionally were also identifying and negotiating for other sites including ensuring the States’ requirements for the Duchess of Kent House while properly explored,” said Deputy Ferbrache.

“During this period the committee has concluded the purchase of the former CI Tyres site and is close to completing on another site. However, these do not address the remaining requirements set out in the application. The Committee for Health & Social Care has also used this period to review and confirm the requirement for key worker accommodation on or very close to the PEH campus.”

Faced with criticism it was not pursuing a brownfield site development, he said that the committee has been the driving force behind an accelerated programme of brown field and previously developed site purchases to facilitate the affordable housing programme overseen by Employment & Social Security, built and managed by the Guernsey Housing Association.

He said this was “a successful relationship which has a history of providing much needed key worker homes”.

“The committee anticipated opposition to the proposal and it did not easily itself make the majority decision to submit the application, however on balance and given the continued demand for the accommodation, it considered that it had no option but to explore the potential.”

He added that the committee would point out that the land within the PEH campus was specifically secured to support the medical needs of islanders.

“These efforts to secure land and permission to build homes for all those contributing to the delivery of critical services in the Island will continue and this committee will consider all options.”


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