Guernsey Press

Sark population grows by 100 due to one man

A GERMAN entrepreneur living in Sark has single-handedly grown the island’s population by more than 100 people over the past year through three global lockdowns.

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Swen Lorenz – single-handedly responsible for Sark population boom.

Financial adviser and fund manager Swen Lorenz first visited in Sark in 2004 after reading a book about the island.

He was curious about its unique system of governance and how it had managed to survive in the modern age.

He liked it so much he moved to the island, but soon realised that the place was struggling and needed a lift.

‘I thought I can use my skills to help Sark get back on its feet,’ he said.

Seeing an opportunity under the EU Settlement Scheme for EU citizens to take British residency, Mr Lorenz wrote a book called How (and) Why to Move to Sark? which he marketed to financial services clients.

It sold well, particularly in his native Germany.

He started his campaign to woo people to Sark in August, acting as a private relocation consultant and hosting a wealth of information on his website.

After one interview on the BBC, the story was picked up by national newspapers and the story went viral worldwide.

‘It took over my life for a few months and it has reinvigorated Sark,’ he said.

Half of the new arrivals to the island are German. Others who have made the move with Mr Lorenz’s guidance have come from all over Europe and as far afield as Canada and Singapore. Most are involved in what he described as ‘portable’ businesses. All of the first wave of residents have rented properties and are looking to buy, renovate or build.

Mr Lorenz believes that more people could follow his path to Sark, attracted by lifestyle and the island’s approach to tax.

‘Sark’s advantageous tax system was also very much of interest to me [when he was first investigating the island] and that’s something I am entirely unapologetic about. Choosing tax-advantageous jurisdictions is not something I’d be ashamed of, and we all have the freedom to legally use these options.’

The 49-year-old is scaling back his relocation services, however.

‘I can realistically attract and handle around 25 to 30 people this year. The main constraint is the availability of real estate on Sark and my time.

‘I do believe that Sark would easily have capacity for another 100-150 people if some of its derelict or under-utilised real estate was put to better use. There’s an unfinished ruin of an apartment building and one has to ask if one or two hotels should be converted into housing.

‘Sark’s development laws are very strict and no one wants to see the place over-populated but there is still plenty of scope for, and need for, more residents. Is the right figure 700 or 1,000? I don’t know.

‘Chief Pleas needs to come up with decisions on questions like that.’

Sark Seigneur Christopher Beaumont and island estate agent Kevin Delaney agree that Mr Lorenz has made a huge positive impact on life in the island.

‘There is no shadow of a doubt that Swen Lorenz’s initiative has driven the population increase and a wider global interest in Sark as a place to live,’ said Mr Delaney.

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