£38 million loan ready to go to restart social-housing project

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Andium Homes says it expects the Ann Court project, which was due to get under way in October, to ‘get back on track quickly’ after a proposition calling on Treasury Minister Susie Pinel to release the money was passed by 26 votes to 20 with no abstentions.

The 165-unit development had been delayed by Chief Minister John Le Fondré to enable him to consider alternative uses for the land, including using the site as the base for the new States headquarters.

Yesterday, Deputy Pinel said she was delighted the proposition was approved. She is due to sign the ministerial decision on Friday at 10.30am.

Deputy Pinel added: ‘It is all ready to go. The ministerial decision was ready to sign but then we were told to wait. It is not going to take long.’

Ian Gallichan, chief executive of Andium Homes, said that as soon as the loan agreement was signed the social-housing provider would be able to move on with the development.

‘We will work with our main contractor to understand the implications of the delay on our programme for delivery, but with planning consent already in place we expect to get back on track quickly and not delay the delivery of these homes any further,’ he added.

‘The recently published objectively assessed Housing Need Report forecasts the need for over 7,000 additional homes by 2030. Andium Homes has the ability to deliver almost half of those for the affordable market, and this site is key in assisting us to meet that target.’

There were passionate speeches made within the States Assembly on Tuesday as politicians spoke in favour and against former Environment Minister Deputy Steve Luce’s proposition to revive the social-housing scheme.

And a member of the public interrupted proceedings as he attempted to have his say on a topic which has long dominated the Island’s political agenda – the lack of affordable housing.

Opening the debate, Deputy Luce said he was ‘disappointed’ at the time spent on the project as the site had been earmarked for housing in 2007 and because £6.5 million had already been spent on the scheme.

‘I’m angry, frustrated and upset,’ he said. ‘This is not what I signed up for. I entered this Assembly to make it better.’

Housing Minister Sam Mézec, who was one of five to break ministerial ranks for the vote, said that following the States U-turn over the future hospital site he did not think that the Assembly looked good.

‘It does make us look indecisive,’ he said. ‘It does make us look like we are willing to go back on the merry-go-round at the pleasure of people on the Housing Gateway.’

However, Senator Le Fondré argued that the Island had ‘always had a housing problem’ and that ‘no one has been brave enough to take any long-term steps’.

He said that in the longer term using Ann Court as a mixture of housing and the government’s headquarters would enable other States-owned sites in the future, such as La Motte Street and the Le Bas Centre, to be used for housing.

And he said that basing all civil servants in one office on the plot would save the States £10 million a year in efficiencies, and would also bring office-worker footfall to shops and restaurants in the area.

Constable Chris Taylor also argued against the proposition. He said: ‘If you did support the proposition, where are we going to build the new States office? Where are we going to get that £10 million a year saving? The financial case is very strong in favour of building States offices at Ann Court.’

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