The States of Guernsey have made more than a million pounds after selling off land which used to be part of the island's former prison.
The two parcels of land in Rue Marguerite; opposite Elizabeth College, have been bought by two separate buyers in deals worth a total of £1.3 million.
One section - which is the larger, more prominent site pictured above, was sold for £1.1million.
It sits at the junction of St James Street and College Street and has been earmarked for development for more than a decade. States Trading Assets said that part of the land was offered to Guernsey Housing Association as a potential site for affordable housing, however that was not possible as "the location imposed planning constraints that meant it was not viable for this purpose."
The site was previously leased temporarily for car parking, while development options were investigated. Since then, other potential options for residential development were explored, unsuccessfully, so a decision was made last year to instead sell the land, along with the smaller, adjacent site.
That smaller parcel of land was also within the grounds of the former prison, but unlike the larger site it has not previously been levelled so it was sold for the lesser sum of £200,000.
Property Services general manager, David Parish, said the sale would unlock the development potential of the total site.
“We did undertake a considerable amount of work to explore potential options for the residential development of the larger of the two sites in particular, but without success," he said. "The decision was therefore made in 2018 to sell the two land parcels, and local commercial property agents were invited to express an interest in marketing them. We subsequently appointed Savills in August last year."
Pictured: The States announced earlier this year that it is planning to sell off a number of publicly owned sites as part of a wider project to rationalise the States estate
Earlier this month, the States agreed proposals to review the ways in which its property portfolio is managed. Mr Parish said that would involve a far reaching look at the whole estate, and the way this is structured in the future. However the day to day management of the estate will continue while this process is underway.
“We have a very large property portfolio and that requires ongoing management andmaintenance while the wider review is being carried out. It includes a number of sites that have already been identified as surplus to requirement and not of use to other committees or service areas, but in order to realise best value for the States of Guernsey planning development frameworks are being prepared" he said.
“The States is not in the business of property development. We therefore have to look to release sites into the private sector to realise their potential for the local economy. These two land parcels at Rue Marguerite are a prime example of that, and their sale has realised a capital return to the States of £1.3 million towards other projects. At the same time they now present a significant opportunity for the construction industry initially and for business in the longer term.”
Among the sites due to be sold is Fort Richmond, which is on the market for £1.5million with estate agent Cooper Brouard.
The Estates Plan policy letter, which was released by States Trading Assets in April, lists a number of States owned properties which could be sold. Fort Richmond was the only property then listed as available for immediate sale, while Rue Marguerite was listed among those to be actively marketed. Other properties including Grange Road House are expected to be sold within the next year.
Other States owned sites which have been sold include land on the north coast of Guernsey. The Platte Fougere Lighthouse Shore Station and surrounding land was sold for £535,000 which at the time, States Trading Assets said had "raised more than £500,000 for the States Capital Reserve and saved spending more than £200,000 from the public purse to carry out essential repairs and upgrade the property."
That site had been bought by the States in 1911, and was previously rented by the former Housing Department. It was handed over to Property Services in 2010 when it was no longer required, and has since been in temporary use as a store and a band practice room since then.
The States only owned the land, not the associated buildings which stand on the land, and the title deeds include no clear legal right of access over the adjoining land or for utility connections. However, a third party approached the States and given they were prepared to accept any risk, that sale was agreed.
Speaking following that sale, Deputy Charles Parkinson, the then-President of States Trading Assets, said the primary objective was to secure the best long- term return for the taxpayer.
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