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GHA buys the Guernsey Business Park with intention of building affordable housing

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Tuesday 28 June 2022

Guernsey Housing Association has, with the support of the Committee for Employment & Social Security, purchased the Guernsey Business Park site for £4.75m. with the intention of applying to develop it for affordable housing.

The 16-acre site is located off Route Militaire. Its size means that there is excellent potential for a mixed development that could make real inroads into addressing the housing requirements of different types of affordable housing.

A mixed development means it will include key worker, social rental and partial ownership properties. The exact number of units proposed will be developed as part of pre-planning application discussions with the Development & Planning Authority, however very early predictions suggest it could accommodate about 190 homes depending on the amount of the site able to be developed.

The Business Park site is currently zoned in the Island Development Plan as one of the island's four Key Industrial Areas. This zoning means that the site cannot currently be developed for housing.  An application will be made requesting that the DPA agrees that the site be developed through the IDP policy route of Policy S5. This policy enables change of use where it is evidenced that the development will be of strategic importance to the island.

Initial discussions with the DPA have been held and a formal application will be made in due course. If the development of affordable housing is not permitted, the Guernsey Housing Association will convey the site to the States of Guernsey for alternative future use.

Steve Williams, Chief Executive at GHA, said:

'This was a unique opportunity to purchase a large site that would, pending change of use approval, present a chance for us to make significant inroads into providing housing for the growing number of people in need of affordable housing. We know that some of the island's critical services are in dire need of key worker accommodation to secure appropriate staff and we also have some 500 people on waiting lists for partial ownership and social rental. We are doing all we can to maximise opportunities to develop more housing to meet the needs of the community.

'I'd also like to take this opportunity to reassure islanders living in the north that, should this development progress, plans will include significant improvements to infrastructure. It would be a catalyst to maximise the opportunity to address and develop a comprehensive approach to transport connectivity, including cycle and pedestrian networks. We also intend to include plans to create a major new public amenity space too.'

Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Committee for Employment and Social Security, said:

'While there is some risk that this site will not receive the necessary change of use permissions for it to be developed for housing, our committee felt it was a calculated risk to take. The island is in desperate need of more affordable housing, across all areas of key worker, social rental and partial ownership, and taking action to help alleviate these pressures is a priority for the States.

'Our committee is confident that the threshold for Policy S5 can be met on the basis that the proposed development would make a significant contribution towards meeting the island's urgent, and increasing, affordable housing requirements, and is of strategic importance. While that is our preferred route, two alternatives also exist; a site-specific amendment to the IDP or seeking the re-zoning of the site under the general review of the IDP later this States term. 

'If none of those routes work, which we feel is unlikely, then the States will own a unique site that it can use in an alternative way. Land values are such in Guernsey that we believe public funds being spent on this site represents minimal risk in terms of value for money. We have discussed this with the Policy & Resources Committee and were grateful of their support for this approach.'

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