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Requête may propose key worker housing - but not on green fields

Requête may propose key worker housing - but not on green fields

Tuesday 12 April 2022

Requête may propose key worker housing - but not on green fields

Tuesday 12 April 2022

Deputies who want to build more housing for nurses on land which is already developed or on brownfield sites - but rule it out on green fields - could soon submit the first requête of this States' term.

Politicians are currently divided about whether new key worker housing at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital should be built on an agricultural field next to the main building of the Hospital or on the site of the former Duchess of Kent residential home.

Express understands that the idea of building on the field has the support of a majority of the members of the Committee for Health & Social Care, including its President, Deputy Al Brouard, and Deputy David Mahoney, who leads on property matters for the Policy & Resources Committee.


Pictured: Deputies Al Brouard, left, and David Mahoney are understood to favour building housing for key healthcare staff on a field at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital if the scheme could obtain planning permission as a 'development of strategic importance'. 

But Deputy Peter Roffey last night told Express that he was seriously considering leading a requête in an effort to protect the field and require key worker housing to be built on the site of the former residential home instead.

"I have to be honest and say how shocked and angry I am over this wholly unnecessary proposal to build on an agricultural field," said Deputy Roffey. 

"I am not alone. In wondering what to do about it, I have been considering a requête of some sort to provide clear direction from the States. I have approached several other members to sound out their opinions and whether they would support such a requête. Rarely have I come across such solid and immediate support for such a move.  

"I hope the Committee for Health & Social Care will think again. This is not a route to quickly providing additional key worker accommodation. It is a route to conflict and delay when we should all be working together to address this serious problem."


Pictured: Deputy Peter Roffey believes that it will take longer to provide additional housing for nurses and other healthcare professionals if the Committee for Health & Social Care refuses to drop the idea of building it on a green field.

Deputy Roffey said that he and his prospective fellow requérants understand the need to expand the island's stock of key worker housing but want that to be done where there is already development or on brownfield sites.

"As a former Health President and chair of the Housing Action Group, I am passionate about the need to provide sufficient accommodation for health and social care professionals," said Deputy Roffey.

"But that does not justify setting aside all planning protection for a field which is also an Agricultural Priority Area, a vital contributor to the visual landscape of Guernsey and is the first piece of countryside you come across as you head west out of Town.

"If the iconic valley field to the south of Le Vauquiedor can be sacrificed and concreted over then it sends the clear message that nowhere in the island is safe from development.

"Coming on top of the well-publicised plan to build luxury homes on prime green fields around the Castel Hospital, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Guernsey’s agricultural industry, its countryside and its biodiversity are regarded by some in high office as completely disposable and of secondary importance."


Pictured: Deputy Peter Roffey said that the idea of building in a green field at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital reminded him of a plan announced by the Policy & Resources Committee in January - but reportedly since dropped - to build luxury homes on green fields next to the Castel Hospital. 

Deputy Brouard said that it was not feasible to put key worker housing on the site of the former Duchess of Kent residential home because it is "fully occupied by a number of [the Committee's] services" - including health services and offices for staff.

But Deputy Roffey insists that it is a better site for key worker housing than the field. 

"The building which used to house the Duchess of Kent is underused and patently not fit for purpose. With real political will it could be emptied reasonably quickly," said Deputy Roffey.

"For instance, the Committee for Health & Social Care's corporate headquarters could be housed in offices anywhere and are currently in accommodation which is hugely sub-optimal.

"Sketch plans exist for three accommodation blocks to be built on the Duchess of Kent site, each of which would provide as much accommodation as John Henry Court [existing key worker housing in the Hospital grounds].

"Even if the whole of the building couldn’t be quickly vacated, a phased scheme could provide the first block just as quickly as the appalling proposal to build in the green valley to the east of the Hospital campus."

Heidi Soulsby gavin st pier

Pictured: Deputies Heidi Soulsby and Gavin St Pier are among deputies who have publicly criticised the idea of building housing on an agricultural field at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

Deputy Roffey said there was also a need to build more key worker housing for healthcare staff away from the Hospital site. 

"It is clear that very many key health workers would prefer to live away from the Hospital and not 'above the shop'," he said.

"We must get away from the outdated view that all nurses and other healthcare professionals are in their 20s and single and want to live in small apartments next to their workplace."


Clash over site of key worker housing 

HSC wants more staff units at PEH

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