A 165-unit Andium redevelopment is currently ‘paused’ while reports and information is gathered on the use of the site with the Chief Minister exploring Ann Court as a potential home for a new States office block.
And Senator Le Fondré believes there are many positives to moving the States operational HQ to Ann Court – including millions of pounds in ‘cash savings, avoided costs and soft-dollar savings’ through the increased productivity levels of having all States staff working in a new, high-end office block.
However, he admitted that he is yet to persuade all members of the Council of Ministers that blocking the already agreed housing development was the right move.
He said: ‘If we go back ten years there was an office consolidation strategy put together at the time – Ann Court was the preferred site. The calculations were that that could deliver around £10 million a year savings.
‘I asked does it still make sense financially and the initial message was yes it does.’
Last month, Treasury Minister Susie Pinel refused to sign a ministerial decision authorising a loan to Andium Homes, the States-owned social housing developer behind the scheme. This prevented the work, which was due to start within the next few weeks, from commencing.
The States have begun work to move to an interim public-sector headquarters in Broad Street and the previous government had earmarked La Motte Street as the eventual permanent base.
The Chief Minister said that Andium would have to be reimbursed for the money they have spent so far on developing the project should it ultimately be agreed that the States HQ should be at Ann Court. He added that moving the States to Ann Court could free up other areas currently used by the States for housing developments.
However, the Chief Minister said some of those costs would be mitigated by the fact that the States would have had to carry out landscaping and feasibility studies on any new site.
The Ann Court scheme was due to comprise 130 one-bedroom flats, 35 two-bedroom flats and four commercial units. It was approved by planners last November.
‘The difficult position is that at the moment we are going to La Motte Street and Ann Court is to be developed by Andium,’ he said. ‘To move we do need a large site and there aren’t that many available.
‘If we were to put States HQ at Ann Court then there might well be a little bit of residential in there anyway.
‘If we put that there we are anchoring that end of town and hopefully creating a little bit of urban regeneration to assist the general flow in areas around the Central Market and West’s Centre.’
The Common Strategic Policy, which outlines the key focus areas for government policy during this term of office, included provisions to include the quality and affordability of housing.
Senator Le Fondré said: ‘If we don’t build the housing, we have to make sure we can deliver [alternative housings sites]. The question is can we replace it or better in other areas. Again, the initial indications are that yes we could achieve either the same or better by freeing up other sites.
‘We are looking for clarification of the timing. We don’t get social housing construction appearing at Ann Court for at least two years and Ann Court is looking at being completed somewhere in 2022.
‘The question is whether we could get a different site or sites that is able to deliver around that time.’
Housing Minister Sam Mézec has previously indicated his desire to see the Andium development allowed to continue.