Kenilworth Vinery, a 17-vergee site, stretches between Lowlands Road, Braye Road and Saltpans Road in the east, north and south, while the vacant Data Park site lies to the west.
Housing Action Group chairman and Employment & Social Security president Peter Roffey said the purchase would allow the States to play its part in creating much-needed housing stock quickly.
‘It has been earmarked for housing for many years and is well-positioned for this kind of development,’ he said.
The purchase, at a cost of about £6.5m, was approved by the Policy & Resources Committee, and will be developed by the Guernsey Housing Association.
The site, approximately the size of four football pitches, is largely filled with pampas grass, but also contains a glasshouse and a water-filled quarry. It already has an approved development framework, which is a prerequisite to planning approval for a development of this size. The site could yield up to 135 units depending on the layout and types of unit constructed.
The Housing Action Group is a cross-committee group that is responsible for researching options to provide quick and innovative solutions towards meeting the current increase in demand and shortage of supply for suitable and affordable accommodation.
Social rental, partial ownership and key worker accommodation are the priority. The site lies on the opposite side of Lowlands Road from Leale’s Yard – another site many would like to see developed into housing.
The Housing Action Group is considering other sites, including sites already owned by the States, but there are no sites currently owned by the States that are as ready as Kenilworth Vinery to accommodate a large development at relative speed. The group is not yet in a position to discuss other specific sites under consideration.
No detailed plans are available for the site as yet, but it will be a mixed development offering partial ownership properties, social rental housing and key worker housing.
It is likely to be developed into smaller one or two-bedroom accommodation. It is also hoped that land to the western end of the site, which is designated as a protected open space, can be developed into some form of public amenity.
The action group will define what can be delivered in the short term of 12 months and examine the potential to reduce timescales for current planning and development requirements.
Due to the size of the site, the GHA is expecting development in phases, but the number of phases, and the time between is yet to be agreed.
Policy & Resources president Peter Ferbrache said the Housing Action Group aimed to be a short-term working party that recognised the significant challenges that currently exist in many sectors of the housing market.
‘Our initial work has had a particular focus on identifying potential sites where more affordable housing can be developed,’ he said.
‘By addressing pressures on affordable housing – the island currently has a waiting list of about 500 – it is anticipated that this may also reduce pressure on the private rental market, which we know currently has far more demand than supply.’