‘Save our bunkers from being made into housing’

BUNKERS and wartime structures need to be listed to give them protection, Festung Guernsey and the Channel Islands Occupation Society (Guernsey) have said.

The location of the Second World War bunker at Jerbourg where permission has been denied to convert the site into a dwelling. (Picture from Google Earth)
The location of the Second World War bunker at Jerbourg where permission has been denied to convert the site into a dwelling. (Picture from Google Earth)

The comments come seven years after Planning discussed listing the Occupation structures, but so far none have got that protection.

Plans to convert a Jerbourg ammunition bunker into a house have just been rejected, because it would damage the clifftop landscape with a domestic dwelling and the structure would require substantial change to become a house.

Bridge Developments Limited had applied to extend and convert a Second World War bunker to form a one-bedroom dwelling with associated landscaping and parking.

It is one of three bunkers on the western side of the headland.

The project was controversial, with 57 letters of objection, as well as objections from the National Trust of Guernsey and La Societe Guernesiaise.

Worries included creating access across a field, the loss of agricultural land and the difficulty getting utilities to the site.

The Channel Islands Occupation Society (Guernsey) and Festung Guernsey came out against the plans and have called for action to save the island’s heritage.

Philippe Martin from CIOS and Festung project co-ordinator Paul Bourgaize both welcomed the rejection, but said more must be done to protect the historic Occupation buildings.

Mr Martin said they wanted to see action.

‘We’ve lost too many already,’ he said.

‘Chouet tower would still be here if it had not been dug out. There are other structures that have been demolished.’

Mr Martin has been involved with CIOS since it was founded in the 1960s and said there had been a big change in perception of the structures.

‘In the early 1960s when we collected items, a lot of people did not want to talk about the Occupation and wanted to forget about it,’ he said.

‘They wanted to cover the bunkers up and forget about them. But people have become more interested and want to talk about it.’

Mr Bourgaize said the Jerbourg application should not have got as far as it did.

‘It should have been listed anyway,’ he said.

He said the listing of Second World War structures had taken much longer than he would have hoped.

‘We hope to liaise with Planning soon,’ he said.

A protected building criteria was published in 2014, and stated that the best examples of Second World War standing buildings would be considered for protection.

But it is unclear what progress has been made on this.

Mr Martin said no structures had been listed to his knowledge.

In the planning report for the Jerbourg site, the planners stated that the bunker had the potential to be listed in the future.

‘[It] is currently the subject of such a review as part of the wider Batterie Strassburg, due to the number of bunkers and structures which form the Batterie Strassburg, the review is not envisaged to be completed in the immediate future,’ they wrote.

‘As the application is not otherwise acceptable, it would be unreasonable to hold the application to enable the review to be completed.’

But the application was then rejected on other grounds than its history.

Project architects A7 Design said no one was available to comment on the application.

The planners have been contacted for comment.

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