SOS Jersey has opposed the current Esplanade Square development for some time, for a number of valid reasons which we have previously addressed and which are now being raised by others.
Last night (18 November 2014) the JEP carried a letter from 10 senior chartered surveyors both
- Expressing their concern that Esplanade contravened the mandate given to the States of Jersey Development Company (SoJDC)
- It is also in danger of costing the taxpayer up to £50 million according to an unpublished treasury report
They have requested that the scheme will be only delivered as agreed by the States and require confirmation on four critical points.
The full letter which was sent to the Chief Minister and States Members is reproduced below these comment boxes. [For ease of online reading we have added extra line breaks and emphases.]
Dear Chief Minister
Masterplan for the Esplanade Quarter, St Helier
We refer to the Masterplan for the Esplanade Quarter. From your recent media comments it seems clear you are saying the road will not be sunk and the Masterplan will not be constructed as proposed, despite the Masterplan being approved by the States and also it forming a key part of the Island Plan.
Given the significance of the site, its potential returns and its incorporation within the Island Plan, it is very important that all islanders/ States members are clear on the Masterplan delivery.
The Assembly has new members, including Ministers for Treasury and Planning, who may also not be aware of the complete history and the Mandate given to SoJDC to act on behalf of the States.
It is for this reason we have sent this letter as an open letter to all States members and the JEP, so everyone can be clear on the position of the Council of Ministers. A more detailed summary of the States approvals and political assurances made is also provided in the enclosed separate report.
In January 2008 the majority of Chartered Surveyors in the island reviewed the Masterplan and provided analysis of the proposals, highlighting significant flaws in the way the Masterplan was formed and its method of delivery, especially considering the property requirements of local tenants.
The report concluded there to be no “material benefits with sinking the existing dual carriageway” and “we would recommend an independent valuation is undertaken comparing the financial returns” as the “the financial figures put forward cannot be independently verified by the public and the risks attached cannot be assessed”.
It would appear you also believe there is no material benefit in sinking the road and for this you will need the financial
assessments in order to ensure best use of the land as required under the Island Plan.
The Esplanade Quarter, St. Helier: Masterplan P.60/2008, was approved 40 votes to 6, in the same week as it was incorporated into the Island Plan, subject to the following:
Condition 1. That the guaranteed payment to the States by the developer of £50 million and up to £25 million overage payments would be ring-fenced for the regeneration of St. Helier and adjacent urban areas.
It is clear States members only approved the Masterplan, subject to the financial conditions of guaranteed payments to regenerate St Helier, and upon the promises of a mixed use scheme described as an “architectural masterpiece” providing connectivity and which was deliverable.
It would seem, however, that since the approval, all of these conditions and promises have been completely ignored. As stated the mixed use requirements are being ignored with the planning applications only seeking offices. Confirmation 1.
In terms of profitability, a professional Expert review, in 2009 by King Sturge/Trowers and Hamlins, commissioned for the States by the then Treasury Minister was not shared with States members as promised and it has been more recently quoted in the Assembly as showing a £50m loss.
This report, its terms of reference, should be made available to the new Treasury Minister and States Members for
review and consideration Confirmation.
Confirmation 2. Please confirm that you will do this. SoJDC seem to be completely unaccountable, ignoring the MoU and the conditions contained both in the Masterplan and in the existing Planning consents. It is for this reason that you as Chief Minister and fellow States Members should be demanding sight of a new fully detailed Phasing Plan which is to be submitted to the Planning Minister…
…and this needs to include details of the timetable for the delivery of the wider Esplanade Quarter works beyond Phase 1 (the Jersey International Finance Centre) to include the sinking of La Route de Ia Liberation and the balance of the works in the approved Masterplan for the Esplanade Quarter, so that thereafter the Esplanade Quarter works can be undertaken in accordance with the agreed Phasing Plan.
The possible delivery of only Building 4 doesn’t provide any public car parking and in fact the relocation of public car parking, for potentially over 5 years to the back of the Radisson, removes vital central car parking for St Helier.
Confirmation 3. Please confirm that you will make the demand requested for a detailed Phasing plan. Given the significant oversupply of offices compared to the limited demand and the complete lack of financial information, it is further incumbent on the Treasury Minister to review the Phasing Plan and to obtain a fully independent updated review of costs, values and delivery of the Plan.
Due to the specialist nature of such review, it will no doubt have to be obtained by experts fully experienced in the valuation of long term major and infrastructure projects.
Confirmation 4. Please confirm that you will procure this and make the report public.
In conclusion, you have publicly stated that whether the Masterplan is delivered is a good question. You nevertheless seem happy for SoJDC , contrary to their mandate, to start the development in a piecemeal fashion. If you allow this to happen then the Masterplan is being delivered in complete breach of the promises and conditions pursuant to which the States agreed to it in the first place.
We ask you to provide the confirmations sought in this letter and to confirm publicly that the Masterplan will be
delivered in its entirety to provide for a mixed use scheme and to include the sinking of the road, all within a reasonable time frame. We further call upon you to confirm that Masterplan will be delivered without recourse to the public purse and that the financial conditions of the guaranteed payments will be met as a bare minimum.
We look forward to your response and in particular providing the four confirmations requested.
Julian Mallinson FRICS
Julian Roffe FRICS
Alistair Sarre MRICS
Ben Ludlam FRICS
Bill Sarre MRICS
Simon Buckley MRICS
Jonathan Queree MRICS
Richard Lock FRICS
Guy Gothard FRICS