Development ideas for coastal locations
’PLANS THEY WON’T APPROVE’
In the mid-1960s a passionate debate was raging over the future development of Jersey’s coastal areas. One faction saw them as sites for grand hotel schemes and other major developments which would secure the future of the tourism industry; their opponents insisted that they must be preserved at all costs.
Jersey Topic magazine, new on the scene and edited by the strongly opinionated Ted Vibert was firmly on the side of development. So, too, was Godfrey Amy, head of his family building firm and, at the time vice-president of the Jersey Building and Allied Trades Employers Federation. He wrote this article for Jersey Topic in 1965.
What future does Jersey hold for its building industry?
This question arouses many thoughts and hopes and contradictions. Many see no scope at all, wondering where the builder will build in the future. This view is brought about because a site today for either commercial or residential use is, firstly, difficult to find and secondly a developer must take his chance before the Island Development Committee.
As the years go by, land becomes even more scarce so where is the builder to build? Where is the future of the industry?
Part of the answer to this is very evident, and a drive through the town of St Helier brings forward this evidence. Old property bought and demolished to provide the site of a new office block, an old workshop bought and demolished to provide a supermarket; a group of 19th century fisherman's cottages demolished to be replaced by modern semi-detached houses. Demolition is becoming the answer to the island's problem in ever-increasing instances.
St Helier, with its modern shop fronts, might well be imagined to be in fine shape and excellent order, but look a little further behind that facade, examine the rear of such property, the roofs or the floors. Part of the future of building industry in Jersey can then be realised. St Helier will have to be rebuilt in the not too distant future — rebuilt to new standards of fire precaution and safety; rebuilt to the standards now set by the Public Health Committee; and rebuilt to the much stricter standards of the building inspectorate.
Today the Jersey building industry is static and marking time. There is great competition and little profit; there is, however, the feeling that this state of affairs is but temporary and those builders who are keen, efficient and genuine will ride out this period and participate in the upsurge of activity that is already coiled and must surely be unleashed.
The future of any one building company, however small, lies within its own fabrication. No firm employing so much labour can hope to be 100 per cent efficient but inefficiency must be kept to the minimum if that firm is to remain in business.
Personal alertness must be evident to client and architect from the director to the apprentice. Good relationship between management and workers is essential. Unfortunately, these points are not borne out by a number of builders in the island today. There are too many builders in Jersey at present; in the future there will not be so many. Those that remain, however, will be the most able and capable of handling the explosion of work to come.
Jersey is about to decide her future and there is a future in the construction business. The development of Fort Regent and the Weighbridge will become reality, providing amenities and recreational facilities for both resident and tourist. The development of the Esplanade, possessing luxury hotels and restaurants and hotels with Continental-style promenades is inevitable — and how attractive this will be. Not only is all this inevitable — it is essential. The holidaymaker of today is becoming more sophisticated every year and Jersey is becoming too commonplace for him. If we are to maintain our tourist industry we must offer him in reality the Continental atmosphere. This we pretend to offer him today.
Loud will be the outcry when I say that our future is very tied up with what we do with St Ouen's Bay. But this area must be developed. Sweeping promenades (the most beautiful in Europe), luxury hotels, swimming pools, luxury flats — what a great asset, what beauty, what income could be derived from tasteful planning.
Such projects have been put forward and, for good enough reason at the present, have been turned down. These projects are, however, important to the island's business and economic survival and they will be brought up again and again and again.
The yacht marina at Gorey; the development of Fort Regent; the Weighbridge; the Esplanade; the development of St Ouen's Bay; all of these schemes will be. And it will be the builder and the civil engineer who will build them, providing skill and work and organisation. Yes, the future of building in Jersey is bright.
I am often asked if I think that industrialisation will take place within the industry, replacing traditional building methods. Until the cost of the unit house is half that of the traditionally built one the answer must be negative. The future of industrialisation can only be in the multi-storey building in the immediate future.
In the commercial property speculation game time means money and when the choice between a contract time of 12 weeks for the erection of a 12-storey office block or a contract period of 12 months for a conventional block has to be made, the decision taken will be determined by which is the greatest saving.
The future of the industry in Jersey will bring more firms into the Jersey Building and Allied Trades Employers Federation. A modern forward looking outlook will attract a greater body of men into their respective unions. The future will bring a closer and more harmonious relationship between the two organisations. The employer of the future will only wish to share his prosperity with his men, and these men will only be happy when they are giving their best. The future does not contain a shorter an dshorter working week. The men in the building industry will have too much vitality to sit at home.