Why travel from bad to worse?

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From Philip Gower.

I WOULD like to back Deputy Phil Rondel and his sensible proposal for a rethink of the Esplanade Square project.

I fully support Senator Freddie Cohen’s stance at Planning and Environment in pushing hard for much-improved quality in both design and build.

But being seduced by titled UK architects, who probably give the job to the office junior and charge for the principal, is not the answer.

Esplanade Square, as currently designed, is a fine example of 70s Eastern European communist-state architecture.

The initial attempts at developing the Waterfront are extremely poor, why make it even worse?

Jersey suffers from a very primitive road system where all roads lead to town. Disrupting now what has become the main artery, ie the underpass, will cause utter chaos for years and would seriously affect the Island’s ability to function and its economy.

How many times do we all pass through town in order to reach a point East or West? If this unnecessary traffic could be addressed by linking some existing roads further North to provide reasonable conduits from East to West, town traffic could be greatly alleviated.

Commerce works when people back their own judgment with their own money. The States and WEB do neither of these things and the proof of their labours so far is there for all to see on the Waterfront.

I would suggest that we forget extending the underpass and leave what has become a pleasant ‘green’ car park the size that it is now, developing it gradually via a masterplan setting out building forms, road networks, scale, etc, and let space-occupiers acquire land as demand dictates for development, probably with each building providing its own underground car parking.

This would provide architects and builders with sequential work for years to come and, hopefully, we would see a variety of attractive designs, which would be much more pleasing, as has been achieved for hundreds of years in St Helier.

Let it happen organically, not the forced issue that currently exists. Why, for example, are a hotel and 65 self-catering apartments required when current accommodation cannot be filled?

There is an old saying in business: ‘Your first loss is your best loss’. If all we are talking about is £200k costs to date, that will pale into insignificance compared to the economic and visual mistake that going ahead with the present plan would create.

What deal the States have done with Harcourt is a mystery, but to expect them to go ahead is naïve when Ireland and Irish banks are bankrupt, and Irish builders and developers are among the most heavily indebted anywhere.

We inhabit a different world to two years ago and it is time for a rethink, as Deputy Rondel proposes.

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