It was a real privilege to be able to share the plans for St Sampson’s Bridge with so many islanders over the weekend. I am sincerely grateful to all those that found the time to attend - 600 people over two days was a phenomenal response!
As the leader of our community-owned organisation, I am very proud that these new plans are so community focused. The vision is for the Bridge to become a vibrant and viable place and to allow it to truly fulfil its role as Guernsey’s second main centre.
Although the Bridge has suffered from changes to shopping habits, uncertainty about the future of Leale’s Yard and a downturn in the economy, it remains an important place to so many islanders. It’s a thriving centre with the charming and eclectic frontage of Victorian and Edwardian buildings at its heart. The community spirit, its compactness and convenience for every day essentials, as well as its long association with the marine trade, are all part of its appeal and we are confident that the new plans respect, and enhance, those characteristics.
Under the plans, the Bridge frontage will remain very much at the heart, with residential units to the west and a plaza, which gives priority to pedestrians, linking the commercial units with the marina. About 2 acres will be given back to open space through the creation of a new public square, a linear park and gardens to support the residential area.
Supported by sub-basement parking, the proposals include 410 residential units to provide a variety of housing to meet local need, 476 parking spaces and 17 new commercial spaces, which will attract new retailers, community organisations and service providers to the area. As part of the plans, we intend to close our current Homemaker store in Lowlands Industrial Estate and relocate it to a new concept, non-food store on The Bridge. This will provide a great anchor unit that will benefit all of the traders on the Bridge.
We want to be at the heart of this new community and we hope that our commitment to opening an additional store there will help breathe new energy into the Bridge, encourage investment and create a healthy trading environment, which does not threaten the viability of St Peter Port.
The former Homemaker store will be redeveloped into two purpose built units and the Grande Marché St Sampson’s in Nocq Road will also be fully refurbished.
These plans, developed by leading architects Axis Mason, are good news for Guernsey. They create opportunities for massive economic benefit. They provide a community-based approach to regeneration with tangible benefits for existing and future residents and businesses.
As we have demonstrated through the opening of En Route St Sampson’s and our plans for significant investment in the Grande Marché and new non-food premises, The Channel Islands Co-operative Society is fully committed to the north of the island and we are excited about the future.
I am extremely grateful for the many messages of support we have received over the last few days. I also readily acknowledge and respect the fact that a few concerns have emerged.
Next week, once islanders have had the opportunity to digest these plans, I will happily respond to those concerns both within the Guernsey Press and on this site.