A letter sent to the Guernsey Press about the project gave the team an opportunity to respond and explain some important matters relating to the development, its progress, costs and next steps.
Seafront Enhancement Project
The Vive La Vallette group (VLV) were selected, by the Seafront Enhancement Steering Group, as the preferred party out of seven to redevelop the kiosk and changing room site in early May 2019 following a public appeal to submit Expressions of Interest shortly before Christmas 2018.
Subsequent negotiations with the States (SOG) were complex and drawn out, partly as a consequence of Covid-19. During negotiations VLV continued to progress their plans at their own risk and at no cost to the SOG.
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Planning consent was agreed in June 2020 with only two representations being made to the Planning Authority.
The planned facilities
Swimming will continue to be the focal point for La Vallette. The changing rooms will not be demolished but will be upgraded with additional showers and their use will be free of charge for all.
The kiosk will be replaced by a café which will be open all year round and provide both indoor and outdoor space for users to relax, enjoy the views and engage with other activities. When operational, there will be full disability access to the café and changing rooms. We are also engaging with experts to find ways to improve access to the pool for a future phase of development
Repair of the pools
This work is expected to take place within the next 18 to 24 months. Following that, the SOG has committed to maintain the pools to a satisfactory standard.
Without this commitment and this undertaking from the SOG, the project would not be progressing and this work is enshrined within the Agreement to Lease signed by both parties on the 28th September 2020.
The SOG has always been responsible for the maintenance of the pools, however, there is now greater clarity regarding what that responsibility is and how it will be fulfilled.
We recognise that the La Vallette area is a gateway to the south coast cliffs and as part of our negotiations we raised the importance of the repairs required to the Clarence Battery steps in order to re-open that access point. We couldn’t insist on such repairs being made as a condition of our agreement but we did make it clear that the investment in La Vallette added weight to the argument for reinstating the steps at the earliest opportunity.
Without funding from the SOG, the project wouldn’t be going ahead. The support from SOG is hugely significant and we are grateful and proud to be a part of this public/private initiative. It should be recognised that about 80% of the costs will be coming from non-States sources. We know that we need to work creatively with our resources if we want community projects like this to happen; the SOG can’t shoulder all the financial burden in this current economic climate.
Once all the enhancements are complete and the place is operational we anticipate that it will be self-financing with any surpluses being reinvested in fresh facilities or in the surrounding area.
We recognise that parking in the area is a challenge and steps are underway to help improve the situation.
We will also encourage alternative modes of transport to support healthy lifestyles. Wellbeing is an important part of maintaining a healthy community and is also government policy. VLV will be proactively promoting this by creating a great welcome for swimmers, walkers, cyclists and those involved in other water activities while creating opportunities for people to enjoy other pursuits such as art, education and culture.
Legacy for the community
This iconic site needs significant work undertaken to preserve and enhance it as a long-term legacy asset for the benefit of the whole community. By undertaking this project through a local charity it helps ensure that this is achieved with the SOG only having to bear a relatively modest percentage of the total cost.
Now that negotiations with the SOG have been successfully concluded, our focus is on completing the redevelopment to a high standard. During the project, which we envisage starting in January 2021 and finishing early 2022.
We plan to communicate openly and widely to ensure that the community becomes fully engaged and informed of what we are striving to achieve for this and future generations.
We want to thank the community for the many positive comments and encouragement we have received to date but are always mindful of the concerns that your correspondent and others have expressed. We have a clear vision for the site but we do not have closed minds and will continue to engage constructively with interested parties as the project evolves.