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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

"Jersey's Unstoppable Nightmare"

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A proposal to delay the £350m development of St Helier's Waterfront has been rejected by the States.

Deputy Phil Rondel raised concerns over going ahead with building new offices during a poor economic climate. But the Deputy found himself in the minority as States members voted against any stalling of the plans.

When the masterplan to redevelop St Helier's Waterfront was first heard in 2007, it was thought businesses would snap-up the proposed 14 blocks of office space.

The new Esplanade Quarter was to become the focal point of the island's finance industry. But then recession hit. For businesses, moving to new premises is, perhaps, no longer a priority.

Deputy Phil Rondel says the masterplan should be left on the shelf until the economy improves. "I think the real crux of the matter is that we've been through the deepest recession in the last 60 years, 70 years and we're only in the bottom of it now. We'll have to see what the public wants and how business picks up over the next couple of years. It'll happen, I'm sure, at some point in the future, but it may not be in the next few months."

The States, though, rejected any delay of the work. They agreed that the point of the masterplan is to have an overarching vision for development to avoid piecemeal development.

The Planning Ministry say three high-profile tenants are interested in renting new offices on the Esplanade and that putting off development would drive them away. It was also argued that it is wise to build in a recession as labour costs are lower.

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