Although many people would agree that designers and planners should be forward-looking in their approach to new buildings, there is no denying that the old Tourism office in particular sets a very high standard for anything standing alongside it to equal.
There is, however, more to the old office than its appearance. It also occupies a prime and prominent site at the edge of an important open space. It always was an excellent site for a tourism information centre – to the extent that it is a puzzle why anyone ever thought that the present centre, tucked away beyond the bus station, was ever going to be an adequate substitute.
It is, therefore, just as well that the centre’s location is being reviewed. Economic Development say that the move back to Liberation Square is being considered because money can be saved if Tourism occupies fewer offices than at present. This may be true, but the advantages of siting a facility for visitors in a key and easily located position are self-evident.
The number of pedestrians – many of them new to the Island – moving through Liberation Square is, of course, a factor. So too is the questionable impression that many visitors may form as they search for an information office only to discover that it is tucked away inconspicuously at the back of a relatively anonymous new development.
If we intend to offer our visitors a warm welcome in a building that is a fitting showcase for the Island’s many attractions a return to the old offices is, without doubt, the way forward.
Meanwhile, turning to the rest of the plans for what is currently but inelegantly called the old abattoir site, there is definite promise that they will live up to expectations. The combination of attractive open areas, restaurants, shops and cafés set off by the remnants of the old structure should be highly appealing to residents and visitors alike.