Guernsey Press

E&I wants to speed up new home builds

A new States-owned body to help deliver new homes is one idea to be explored by Environment & Infrastructure as it starts the latest phase of its work to address the island’s housing issues.

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Environment & Infrastructure president Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33095930)

This follows the publication last year of the Guernsey Housing Plan.

E&I is now working to do everything it can to stimulate the speed of supply of new homes.

Last year the number of homes in the island increased by just 94.

E&I president Lindsay de Sausmarez said the States now had a good evidence base of the situation and would be updating the strategic housing indicator this summer.

‘Now we’re pushing forward a number of the highest-priority solutions,’ she said.

‘There’s a really obvious gap between planning permissions that have been granted, and new homes that have been completed, and we’re interested in the new homes. That’s what people need to live in.’

But experienced developer Paul Nobes, joint managing director of Infinity Group, has suggested there could be a simple solution to drive forward new housing.

He is backing a requete, set to be debated next month, to reduce the impact of GP11 – a policy which requires affordable housing on large scale housing projects.

There has been concerns that this has prevented larger projects going forward.

Mr Nobes said up to 200 homes could be built if GP11 was scrapped.

‘It’s a massive thing,’ he said.

‘As soon as this gets voted out I think you will see the best part of 100 to 200 permissions coming through.’

The housing needs model published last year stated that 1,565 additional accommodation units would be needed between the start of this year and the end of 2027 – or 313 units each year over the next five years.

Deputy de Sausmarez said E&I had been pushing ahead with work on the various elements listed in the housing plan, but it had been frustrating.

‘The creation of new homes is inherently time consuming,’ she said.

‘So there is always going to be a lag between solutions and those solutions being visible and useful in the real world.’

A States-owned delivery vehicle is one idea that will be explored and she said that this could be based on concepts that are in place elsewhere, including Jersey.

This might include the creation of build-to-rent properties and other funding and delivery models not being offered by developers at present.

But E&I does not intend to tread on the toes of the development companies.

‘It is not about competing in the market, it is about filling the gaps that the market is unable to supply,’ she said.

Mr Nobes welcomed E&I’s plans to look into ways of stimulating the private market housing development and the idea of a States-owned delivery vehicle for housing developments.

‘Every opportunity for the States to work with private companies would be a very good thing for them to achieve what they’re looking for,’ he said.

He urged E&I to consult with the industry.

‘A lot of the stuff we’ve read [from E&I] is positive but without consultation to understand how things work financially and the world we live in.’

Consultants Arc4 Ltd were responsible for preparing two reports that led to the Guernsey Housing Plan and they will be investigating the issues and opportunities and put forward a range of options for the committee to consider.

‘They spent a lot of time talking with local stakeholders, such as developers, estate agents, landlords, tenants, etc, to get a really good understanding of the local housing situation,’ Deputy de Saumarez said.

She was unable to say when this might be put forward but was pleased that some existing work streams within the plan were moving faster than expected.

‘Sadly, we don’t have a magic wand, but it is really important that we take all responsible steps to make it as speedy and efficient as we possibly can.’