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Architect reveals ‘visionary’ scheme for Steam Clock site

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IT is widely regarded as a neglected blot on the landscape, but now a local architect has come up with a scheme he says would revitalise the site of the Steam Clock and transform the surrounding area.

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Nick Socrates believes the site has the potential to house an ‘iconic cultural building’ that would act as a landmark for Jersey and be a destination for tourists.

His idea – which is purely visionary – includes the possible relocation of the Jersey Arts Centre to the building, the creation of a Jersey art and architecture gallery and even making it the new site for the Jersey Library. He also says a ‘grand pedestrianised promenade’ could be used to link the site to other underutilised areas, such as La Folie.

And Mr Socrates says that such a project could act as a ‘catalyst for change’ in the regeneration of a new waterfront development.

Mr Socrates has previously proposed a walkway over the road at the Waterfront and a high-rise tower on the site of Snow Hill toilets to pay for the regeneration of the area and provide access to Fort Regent.

In 2017 he was also shortlisted in a competition to design gates for the new Chelsea Football Club ground.

Visitors to Jersey continue to write reviews about the ageing steam clock on TripAdvisor, ranking it 24 out of 26 things to do in St Helier.

The clock – controversially commissioned by the Waterfront Enterprise Board in 1996 at a cost of £250,000 – has not worked for years and is currently under the care of Ports of Jersey, which says it has no money to refurbish it. Last year, the organisation revealed that it had been approached by a hospitality group wanting to build a hotel on the site.

A total of 23 people have reviewed the steam clock on TripAdvisor since September, most expressing disappointment at its neglected appearance and the fact that it is not working.

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The latest, posted just a few days ago from AngieP49 from Poole, says: ‘Sadly this steam clock has been neglected and no longer works. Not only that it is looking worse for wear and really needs some TLC. The clock is in a prominent position and it would be great if it could be repaired and painted to return it to its former glory.’

Mr Socrates, however, believes the site would be better suited to a new cultural quarter – a project he says could be a public and private partnership.

‘We believe that the use of this site should be public,’ he said. ‘There are already museums in the area and by introducing a new, exciting, vibrant arts and entertainment complex Jersey will be creating an exciting and unique cultural waterfront centre, where all forms of art and culture can thrive.

‘Many other towns and cities do have such a thriving arts and cultural facility and Jersey desperately needs one and this site is absolutely perfect for it.’

Citing Liverpool’s Albert Dock as an example of how old wharfside buildings can be put to good use, he added: ‘Any development on this site would need to include the re-routing of the road to the rear of the development allowing for an enhanced public domain parallel to the harbour; a grand pedestrianised promenade featuring al fresco dining etcetera. This new boulevard would enhance the attractiveness and connectivity to sites further afield, such as La Folie.

‘Such a development would also immensely benefit from a lock gate to the town harbour ensuring the sea level remains high at all times.’

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
author

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