Guernsey Press

Le Coutanchez site 'must be cleared as soon as available’

Clearing The Guernsey Institute site at Le Coutanchez needed to be done as soon as it became available, Policy & Resources committee president Lyndon Trott told members during his first update since being elected to the role.

La Coutanchez site. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33082926)

P&R was looking to help other committees progress the building of new homes and in the wake of land purchases by the Guernsey Housing Association and the States it was important to get spades in the ground as soon as possible.

Now that funding was approved for the new TGI site at Les Ozouets, the chance of freeing up the Le Coutanchez was moving closer and the Development & Planning Authority was considering its development framework.

‘We are keen to accelerate the master planning working along with the other landowners,’ said Deputy Trott.

‘We must be ready to clear that site immediately it is available; have approved plans for homes and infrastructure; be confident of the construction capacity to build; and have access to funds.’

Deputy Trott opened his statement by giving an overview of the island’s current fiscal position, and said that the underlying States’ deficit of £35m. last year was ‘positive news’ since, with income achieving expectations and expenditure lower than budgeted for, there was a surplus of £41.7m. which was some £32m. more than compared to the 2023 budget.

Meanwhile, revenue income stood at over £600m., which was £18.1m. ahead of budget. But one of the best indicators of economic performance, the Employee Tax Instalment scheme, had also been strong and was up £8.4m. on budget with 2% annual growth. There was still, however, an overall deficit of £35m. – excluding any return on investments – and Deputy Trott once again said that this equated to a 2% rise in income tax based on last year’s values.

During questions he was challenged about the involvement of consultants Arup in assessing and refining the logistics of the Leale’s Yard project.

Deputy Andy Taylor asked Deputy Trott to confirm that public money had been used to progress a private scheme.

Deputy Trott said that Arup was doing work that was outside the technical scope of the P&R team.

He had told members that this was all part of due diligence so that eventually the States could make an informed decision on potentially buying homes on the site.

Once this was done, negotiations on a potential purchase price for the properties could be discussed.

It was not possible to give a time frame, but he hoped that the information would be available soon and a meeting with the developer could take place in the next few weeks.

While it was good that affordable, social housing was being built, Deputy Nick Moakes said it was also important for the States to facilitate the building of private accommodation because there was also a market for that.

Deputy Trott’s predecessor, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, asked if the committee was going to bring back a mini-budget or other proposals before the main budget at the end of the year suggesting ways of raising more income. The budget would be at the appropriate time, replied Deputy Trott and he could not say whether these proposals would be substantive and lots of discussion was going on in P&R about how to plug the gap.

It was not only an issue for P&R, though, and the proposals needed to be coordinated across committees.