Finance Centre challenge stopped on eve of hearing

Sean PowerPicture: PETER MOURANT
Former Deputy Sean Power

A LAST-ditch attempt by campaigners to derail the Jersey International Finance Centre development has been withdrawn on the eve of it going to court.

The St Helier Waterfront Action Group had been due to appear in the Royal Court on Friday seeking a judicial review of a decision to approve the second unit of the Jersey Development Company scheme, known as Building 5.

However, after Environment Minister Steve Luce said this week that it may be appropriate to review and update the Esplanade Quarter Masterplan, which sets terms for the wider development of the area, following recommendations by independent planning inspector Philip Staddon, the group has decided to withdraw its application.

The minister’s comments came as he rejected an appeal against Building 5 lodged last year by rival developers C Le Masurier Ltd, thereby removing the final hurdle for the development and the action group has now asked Deputy Luce for a meeting to discuss a possible review of the masterplan and a timescale for it.

 

 

 

 

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Comments for: "Finance Centre challenge stopped on eve of hearing"

Tim South

Excellent work by the St Helier Waterfront Action Group, on behalf of the majority of the people of Jersey, who do not wish to see their land, assets and island wealth squandered by a group.

The group being a quango that do not have to compete in the real world by using the tax payer ( tax and charges increased ) as a guarantor and backstop when the slide down hill starts.

The islanders will play their part fully in a couple of years time and no doubt vote out the ministers that support this ridiculous unpopular venture that the private sector are not only competent to deal with, but doing so, without the help of Government.

The letter from Howard Sharp QC is revealing in that it throws a light into the complete long term planning shambles by SoJDC, but normal when Government gets involved in commercial activity of which it has no real experience.

The JEP asked some questions which appear to be as relevant now as they were June 14th 2015. Chosen from their list, which a almost a year on have not been answered ?

JEP:

If such demand for grade A offices truly exists why not advance on a ‘fully let’ basis?

Could the private sector meet the current demand for office space - if so for how long could this continue to be the case?

Why not wait for scrutiny’s independent ‘Red Book’ valuation of the scheme and accompanying report?

We are told that the success of the project will result in a £50 million return in 20-30 years. What does success look like in two, five and ten years’ time assuming the project runs to plan?

http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/06/14/the-international-finance-centre-the-questions-the-jep-wants-answered/

leehenry

Hi Tim - It is false to state that the majority of people in Jersey support the actions of the St Helier Waterfront Action Group. They just happen to be the most vocal over social media. The Group has also consistently posted misinformation, which we then have to correct. This is only confusing the public further. JDC has documented the majority of the project and with the exception of our commercially sensitive documents (which Scrutiny's experts, EY, have seen), you will find most of this documentation is publicly available online.

JDC has a highly experienced Board made up of property developers and others with relevant business experience. Governments get involved in development all across across the world, for example in the UK they have both The Crown Estate and the City of London Corporation.

I will answer some of the JEP's questions that you have raised here:

1. The reason you can't wait until the building is 100% let is because not all tenants will be ready to sign at the same time. A tenant that does sign wants certainty that the building will complete on time so that they can occupy it. There are also a number of office buildings under construction right now that demonstrates the demand for Grade A space.

2. The public sector clearly can't meet the current demand. The owners of a many of the properties that have a planning permission on the Esplanade are not developers and there is a backlog of businesses wanting to move that were reluctant to move during the recession.

3. Scrutiny are not undertaking a "red book valuation".

4. The returns are taking this long as the initial returns are ploughed back into the scheme, providing public open space, regeneration of the Esplanade, subsidising the underground car park and then lowering the road. The final £50m you refer to is the profit from the residential units in Phase 2. Success will be demonstrated by upgrading Jersey's office stock and providing excellent working environments for those that will work in these buildings, regenerating the area being the Esplanade including providing the open spaces for public use, creating a vibrant area, moving the parking underground, providing many homes for Islanders, as well as a return to the Treasury.

Overpopulated

Most people I know think the finance centre will bankrupt the island. Taxes will have to rise massively to fund this and also the social housing building - 40% tax coming soon?