Jersey Heritage started refurbishment work at Archirondel Tower in October 2016 to turn the former fortification into a holiday let for four people with a fully-equipped kitchen, shower room with toilet facilities, bedroom and living room. It had previously been available for overnight stays, but with very basic facilities.
The organisation’s property manager, Chris O’Connor, said they had hoped to open for bookings from July but ‘the project has not been without its challenges’.
‘The location of the tower has created huge logistical challenges to connect services such as heating and plumbing, and there has also been an extensive amount of archaeology to examine including a ten-inch thick concrete roof engineered by German occupying forces,’ he said.
Renovations also include opening up access to the top of the tower, which has panoramic views across the east coast to St Catherine’s Breakwater and the coast of Normandy.
It is this aspect of the project that has been the main cause of the delay and why the tower is now not due to open until early next year.
‘Works were progressing well until March/April when we discovered that, having removed sections of the concrete floors at first- and second-floor levels, the existing stairwell was not perfectly cylindrical and the proposed spiral staircase would not actually fit, which meant we had to redesign the stairs,’ Mr O’Connor said.
There were further complications when Planning’s Building Control section asked for further revisions to make the staircase compliant with health and safety requirements for emergency exits.
Mr O’Connor said the matter had at last been resolved and work was again under way.
‘I think that the Building Control officer was quite correct to raise concerns regarding the stair not complying with British safety standards as clearly the safety of the people who are going to use the tower in the future is of paramount importance,’ Mr O’Connor said.
Meanwhile, a metal access ladder to the breakwater, eroded by years of exposure to sea water, has been closed to the public since last year. It is the responsibility of the Infrastructure Department.
‘As the whole structure is listed, planning permission was required to replace the ladder,’ a States communications officer said. ‘The ladder was constructed then was needed for a busier location. Another ladder is being made and it should be installed by the end of October.’