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Confused? and/or appalled? Join the club! Read on for a summary of Esplanade Development events leading up to our January 2014 report and see what you think…

Esplanade plans, 2007-2008

Extensive island wide consultation, including the first ever Public Enquiry, on the Island Masterplan (‘Esplanade Quarter’) development plans Proposition.

Click here for January 2014 update

Esplanade plans, 2008… and the plot starts

Proposition P.60/2008 approved, 40 votes to one, subject to:

  • Guaranteed payment to the States by the developer of £50m
  • Up to £25 million overage payments to be ring-fenced for the regeneration of St. Helier

The plan for development of the whole Esplanade Quarter was based on Hopkins Architects’ plan which included:

  • Underground road ,enabling seamless extension to old town
  • Buildings to be mixed use (e.g. 388 homes, offices, hotel, public open spaces and Winter Garden, etc)

The pre-development infrastructure (roads, etc) were to be provided and paid for by a third party (Harcourt) at a mutually agreed cost of £45m. Harcourt were also to pay £50m in cash for the purchase of a 125 year leasehold of the infrastructurally completed development site –  plus up to £25m overage being applicable if final value exceeded expectations.

Cash (£50m) was to be paid over in three equal tranches over eight years, and the total monetary and non-monetary revenue to the Island would be a minimum of £95m plus all non-property rental accruing to the Island resulting from the development (e.g. tourism).

NOTE: All risk was to be taken by the third party and not the States of Jersey.

– An Independent report of all aspects (eg building, commercial, financial) was commissioned by the States, accompanied by – a pledge given by then Treasury Minister Senator Terry Le Sueur to the States- 2nd July 2008: ‘I will make that advice … available to States Members before I sign the contract’

– a statement by Senator Ozouf (current Treasury Minister) that he is ‘reassured’ that ‘that advice will be shared with Members.’

Former Treasury Minister (and then Chief Minister) Terry Le Sueur. Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf. Former Planning & Environment Minister Freddie Cohen. Managing Director, States of Jersey Development Company, Lee Henry.

Click here for January 2014 update

2008-2011

States’ members have neither received nor seen such ‘advice’ (i.e.the report) but it is believed to show a £50 million pound loss. In July 2009 the above deal with Harcourt fell through.

In January 2009 the Esplanade car park site, with income from 520 cars with an income of £759,000 p.a., was “transferred” to WEB for £1 – below market value.

2009 to date: No further extensive consultations such as those held in 2007/2008 were held nor has any Proposition been put to the States to determine to what extent the extremely expensive original architect’s plans should be amended.

Click here for January 2014 update

2011… it rumbles on…

2011: As late as 2011 the former Planning Minister was still promising mixed development to the Assembly. This was not put up for debate or formally agreed to by the States. On 17th May 2011 in debate P.24/2011, Senator Cohen stated: “The Esplanade Quarter, which I have said delivers a significant quantum of latest office space, let us not forget that it delivers also 400 homes.” and he added this:“affordable high quality homes that our children would be able to afford to purchase in an ideal location in a thriving town.”

Yet later that year, on an unsubstantiated and uncommitted request from the finance industry, the Minister agreed to increasing the amount of area to be allocated to the construction of office space. He also agreed to a change to the Plan in that the sunken road would not be built and that phase one would be the building of 6 office blocks (totalling 484376.sq ft)

During the debate on P.175/2011, Senator Philip Ozouf stated: “There are a number of very important benefits of this first phase to the public: it does not require any public funding. There has been some discussion that it does, it does not”.

Click here for January 2014 update

2012-2013 – What?!

The first stage of the original plan i.e. to create an infrastructure on which to commence development, has been unilaterally discarded without reference to the States. The Treasury Minister, through the Treasury controlled SoJDC, has sought and obtained planning permission for a piecemeal development on part of the ‘Esplanade Quarter’ (i.e.the Esplanade Car Park only). Building may start in March 2014. If financial plans have been prepared they have not been shown to States members.

Despite the earlier assurances from the Treasury Minister, as above, that no public money was required he has now lent, from the States Currency Fund, £13 million to SoJDC as part of the £21million required for the car park by means of three Ministerial decisions which are signed off without any requirement to be ratified by States members.

Lee Henry, MD of SoJDC, has stated “There is not sufficient value attached to a single building to fund the entire cost of the underground public car park. The Currency Fund investment will bridge the funding gap for a fixed period and will be repaid from the net receipts of the second building.”

SoJDC are clearly requiring public funding for a project which was supposed to be self funding and with no risk to the States (thus taxpayers), the details of which are not public and are being withheld. The first buildings are proposed to be constructed, along with a 3 and half storey basement car park with one lift, on a prime site, yet return limited levels of profit?!

As can be seen from the above, the States Assembly and the public were clearly led to understand and expect to be kept informed about and involved in any significant changes to the original plans in which they had very much been involved at the outset. SOS are currently exploring options as to how this situation can be rectified. More questions need to be asked!

Click here for January 2014 update

If you think that you can contribute in any way to our cause please do get in touch with us and also share our message.

The Esplanade Development – Summary of Events pre-2014
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