Guernsey Press

‘Nothing for people at the bottom of housing ladder’

BUILDING just 20 new properties could be enough to help Alderney encourage the key workers it needs to move there.

Kevin Gentle, chairman of the Building & Development Control Committee.

That is the view of Building & Development Control Committee chairman Kevin Gentle, who said that if the northern isle was to meet its aspirations to grow the population it was vital that sufficient housing was created at the bottom end of the market.

‘We need to start the conversation to alert people that we are facing a dire housing shortage,’ he said.

‘It’s the one- and two-bed flats that we don’t have. Alderney should prioritise affordable housing to retain young families and attract key workers. We’ve got to give them an entry into the market. There is nothing for the people at the bottom of the ladder.

‘We have the same pressures as Guernsey, a lack of affordable housing and an ageing population. But in a microcosm, small differences appear worse when you only have a population of 2,000, not 63,000 – the demographic of Alderney is even older than Guernsey.’

Housing was a key aspect of Alderney’s Island Plan published last March, which proposed a housing strategy, policy and practices to make the island attractive to economically active adults and their families while sustaining those who already live there.

Referring to reports that lack of accommodation is severely hampering the efforts of Health & Social Care in Guernsey to attract nurses, Mr Gentle asked the States of Alderney at its meeting this month to review practical ways in which the island could provide housing support.

‘We need to think more broadly about affordable housing because the term itself has inbuilt assumptions,’ he said.

‘Additional housing needs to be built so that we can retain younger families and attract those key workers looking to relocate.’

The Alderney Housing Association is the main provider of affordable housing on Alderney and a Housing Task Group was set up in 2021.

‘In a perfect world, social housing would hopefully be seen as a short-term stepping stone supporting those who can’t afford current market prices. No community wants multi-generational dependence on social housing.’

The Task Group and the AHA are agreed that low-cost but high-quality accommodation, such as flats, should be the priority.

In the debate Mr Gentle told other members that the argument that the States has limited funding should not be used as an excuse to allow the gradual decline of the States’ property portfolio.

He also raised the issue of selling States property as a possible solution to fiscal shortfall, with money raised being set aside to fund new housing projects.

‘States property is an asset and must never be sold for the simple reason of covering a short-term shortfall. However, selling and ring-fencing is a totally different thing.’