A PLAN to build a 103-bedroom ‘apart-hotel’, 238 flats and a courtyard linking Broad Street and Commercial Street could be ‘the first big step’ in regenerating a large swathe of St Helier, a publican in the area has said.
Tomasz Tura, owner of the Blue Note, added that the scheme, put forward by Le Masurier, could be a shot in the arm for the town centre, which has suffered from a drop in footfall as more Islanders have worked from home during the pandemic.
He said: ‘I am very excited and I think it could be the first big step in regenerating the whole area and think it will benefit all businesses including mine.
‘The Broad Street area is starting to look a little bit sad. Over the last two years, RBC has moved out of its offices and the government staff will move into their new headquarters so, suddenly, all the big buildings in the area will be empty.’
He added: ‘For us, the fact that Le Masurier want to do something there is great. I know their initial plans included offices but they have now changed them to reflect the change in circumstances so I think that is to be applauded as well.’
An architect’s impression attached to the plans showed a paved, pedestrianised Broad Street. However, developers have since clarified that this is an idea and not something that has been finalised.
The road was closed at the beginning of the pandemic and had been due to reopen in May. However, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft successfully lodged an amendment calling for it to remain closed until the end of this year.
Speaking about Le Masurier’s proposal, Mr Tura said: ‘I hope that this will speed up the process in shutting Broad Street to traffic permanently, rather than temporarily, and reroute the buses. There was a plan to move the bus stop to Library Place near the fountain and I think that is a great idea.
‘At the moment, the road is in a bit of limbo. It is shut but nothing can be done because there is still some traffic that has got to go through. It should be pedestrianised permanently.’
Meanwhile, Connor Burgher, town centre manager, said the scheme, which also features 10,000sq/ft of retail and commercial space, was a vote of confidence in St Helier.
‘It shows that yet another local firm is willing to make a significant investment in the town centre,’ he said.
‘The town centre has to evolve in order to survive and I think we are starting to see that happen with developments for more residential properties in town. We are going to see in the next few years what will happen but I hope it will lead to an increase in footfall.
‘At one point, it seemed like there was a hotel closing every month and being turned into flats so I am really pleased that a hotel could be built in town, especially post-pandemic.’