Politicians who lead on housing are impressed by proposals to construct more than 300 homes on Leale's Yard in the north of the island as part of a planning application which the Co-op is submitting today.
The Channel Islands' retailer and its development partners want to put up around 320 homes on the 13-acre site - equivalent to more than 1% of the island's existing housing stock - alongside a new Co-op food store, other retail space, a multi-storey car park and green and civic areas.
It would be the first residential development in the island to make use of modular homes. They would be built in a factory in the UK and transported to Leale's Yard to be erected in sections. At its highest point, the residential part of the development would have six storeys.
Pictured: An artist's impression of the development for which the Co-op is submitting a planning application today.
"I am enthusiastically supportive of the idea of providing 320 new homes, retail and commercial space and civic amenity space at Leale’s Yard," said Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Committee for Employment & Social Security, which is responsible for social housing.
"I haven’t studied the plans in any detail yet but from what I have seen it is attractive and I think that the project will provide a significant uplift for the north of Guernsey.
"I was particularly delighted to hear at the presentation for States' members that the developers are determined to fully discharge the requirements of GP11."
"I want to understand exactly how the developers wish to discharge their GP11 responsibilities and I look forward to exploring this issue in the weeks ahead," said Deputy Roffey.
Pictured: Under GP11, a development of the scale proposed at Leale's Yard would need to set aside 25% of the developable part of the site for social or affordable housing.
General housing policy is the responsibility of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure. The Committee's President, Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, said the Co-op's plans would help to address the island's housing needs.
"Although I haven’t seen the detailed planning application, I’m really pleased that plans to develop Leale’s Yard are coming forward – and that this time it looks as though, if approved, it could be delivered pretty quickly," said Deputy de Sausmarez.
"It is a cornerstone development that could play an important role in reinvigorating the whole area, as well as providing much-needed housing, of course.
"I’m pleased that this scheme will deliver a good number of affordable homes under the GP11 policy within a mix of private housing – all of which should be good quality and fairly environmentally sustainable.
"I like the mixed use nature of the development with a balance of residential, commercial and leisure opportunities, and I also like the thought they have given to ensuring it is a vibrant, liveable community.
"Transport access and links are a critical part of that, so I’m glad to see that elements like safety, active travel, connectivity, public transport and shared mobility have been included in the plans."
Pictured: Leale's Yard has been wasteland for decades but the Co-op hopes to transform it into a vibrant residential, retail and commercial centre behind The Bridge seafront.
Deputy Heidi Soulsby, Vice-President of the Policy & Resource Committee, is another senior politician welcoming the Co-op's latest moves to develop Leale's Yard after not succeeding with previous attempts going back decades.
"I’m pleased to see a new planning application has been made after so many years," said Deputy Soulsby.
"I can’t comment on the specifics of the proposed development but I'm pleased it includes a significant number of one- and two-bedroom houses which the island needs.
"It has been sad to see the decline of The Bridge area over the last few decades and I hope this means that its rejuvenation is now not far away."
Pictured: Deputy Heidi Soulsby hopes that development of Leale's Yard will help rejuvenate The Bridge generally - a hope also expressed by parish officials in the Vale and St Sampson's who spoke to Express overnight and whose comments can be read by clicking HERE.
Deputy Roffey is hopeful that the latest proposed scheme for Leale's Yard will finally resolve the question of how to use a site which the Co-op has owned for more than 25 years but so far been unable to develop.
"I think two things have changed from previous schemes," he said.
"First, it seems the planners are no longer insisting on expensive underground or under-croft parking.
"Second, the current super-heated housing market allows the release of all of the new homes on to the market at once. Previously, they would have needed to be phased, which would have delayed the full return on the very large expenditure on infrastructure which necessarily needs to come at the start of the project.
"We definitely need to build lots of new houses. While the overheated labour market - particularly in construction - will obviously be an issue, this scheme lends itself to the use of factory-built, modular housing, which will reduce the demands on the local building trade to some considerable degree."
Deputy Roffey wants the States to consider making a limited investment in the proposed scheme.
"I understand grant funding is not required, but I do think the States should consider the idea of buying some of the units – above and beyond the GP11 quota – for use as badly-needed key worker housing," he said.
Pictured: Deputy Peter Roffey thinks the States should consider buying some homes at Leale's Yard to house key workers, such as teachers and nurses.
Deputy de Sausmarez said the early involvement of development partners working alongside the Co-op could be key.
"It appears that the fact the Co-op have teamed up with a development partner this time is what makes these plans more likely to progress than previous planning applications," she said.
"I definitely want to take a careful look at the full planning application in order to study the detail, but from what I understand at the moment the plans meet the requirements set out in the Development Framework for the site, which stipulates aspects such as the quality and sustainability of the development, the mix of use, transport links and open public space.
"If all these requirements are met, the development will be a very good thing for the island on the whole and residents of the development and wider Bridge area in particular."
Pictured: The Co-op estimates that its proposed scheme will require or directly generate more than £200million of investment in the coming years.
The Co-op hopes to secure planning permission this year and open the new food store and the first homes on the site within the following three years.
It anticipates completing all development work within five years of planning approval.
It is estimated that the proposed scheme would require £50million of private sector investment during construction and spending of £150million on local facilities management services after construction.
"My real desire would be to see this massive private sector initiative complemented by an equally ambitious public scheme to move all of the heavy commercial shipping out of the Victorian harbour at St Sampson's," said Deputy Roffey.
"That would liberate large swathes of space around the harbour for commercial redevelopment and for leisure.
"A significant percentage of the population of Guernsey lives in the Vale and St Sampson's and we owe it to them to invest in and transform Guernsey’s 'second town'."
Pictured (top, left to right): Deputy Heidi Soulsby; Deputy Peter Roffey; Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez.
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