‘No-brainer’ proposal to build key-worker affordable homes in Jersey

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JERSEY’S government is looking into a proposal from a financial-services firm to facilitate the construction of affordable homes for key workers.

The “simple solution” proposed by Tenn Capital involves the creation of a fund into which the firm would put £10 million, on the basis that the government lends the fund £10m at a “low rate” of interest and “fast-tracks” specific brownfield sites through the planning process.

This, the firm states, would be done on the condition that the properties created are affordable and for key workers only.

In an open letter, Tenn Capital managing director Steve O’Brien invites the government to work in partnership with the company to provide the scheme.

“The government will not earn much interest on its loan but will also not take much risk, as Tenn Capital would suffer the first £10m of any losses,” the letter states.

“There is undoubtedly a housing problem on the Island, and this seems to acutely influence our ability to attract and retain key workers, particularly in the medical, educational and therapeutic space, with damaging long-term implications for our society and significant cost implications for government.

“We cannot change the past, therefore should not waste energy on how we got into this position. Rather than point the finger of blame I have set out below a simple solution which we at Tenn Capital can deliver and I invite the appropriate person in government to pick up the phone to me so that we can work in partnership with them to deliver it.”

Mr O’Brien added that the firm already had two sites in mind – but declined to reveal their location – as well as a construction firm it would be “happy to work with”.

“All it requires is a simple joined-up approach from the government at the highest level and we can start to solve this problem in a practical way by delivering high-quality affordable housing for a targeted segment of society which is critical for our overall wellbeing,” the letter continues.

“All the houses would be sold to qualifying key workers at affordable prices below the market rate on the condition that they continue in their professions on-Island for a minimum of five years.”

In a statement, the government said it was aware of the proposal from Tenn Capital and that officers were making contact for more information.

However, Mr O’Brien yesterday told the JEP that he was yet to hear from anyone.

“I would have hoped that somebody would have reached out,” he added, although he acknowledged the disruption caused by the recent vote of no confidence in government.

“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel here,” he said.

“We think that it’s a no-brainer to try to fix this issue in the Island.”

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