Guernsey hopes to ease housing crisis by turning two former hospitals into homes

  • Video report by ITV Channel's Katherine Levy

Guernsey's Policy and Resources are hoping to ease the island's chronic housing crisis by converting two former hospitals - the Castel and King Edward VII - into homes.

Design plans have already been drawn up to transform these much-neglected sites into up to 90 three to five bedroom family homes, all with outside space and parking.

But there is concern about the size of the footprint of the project and whether or not the plans involve using the agricultural land surrounding the site.

Deputy Peter Roffey said: "What worries me is that the response here is, let's start with the fields, let's start with the agricultural fields.

"I really am trying to understand and I've asked property services for a plan of what they intend because they are really important, what are called APAs, agricultural priority areas that surround the site and if they are going to be developed for housing that really is shocking."

As the Property Lead on the Policy and Resources Committee, Deputy David Mahoney has been working closely across Committees to understand what can be done, and how quickly.

He said: "The housing market is like every other market, it's supply and demand. If you don't have the supply, the price goes up. It's that simple.

"So the proposals here really are about, let's change the supply then, let's get more three, four, five bedroom houses on the market and that will regulate itself. "Deputy Mahoney said his conscience is clear regarding the use of the fields.He said: "There is obviously a dire need for housing on the island so to my mind it's not the sacrificing of a field, it's the using of a field which is within the States' ownership."Any potential development with over twenty units is legally required to dedicate around 30 percent of the properties for social housing.

As chairman of the Housing Action Group, Deputy Roffey is concerned that plans for the States-owned Castel Hospital site don't take this into consideration. "Affordable and social housing is really strapped for sites and I'm frustrated that since the housing action group has been set up, not one new States-owned site has been identified that can be used for affordable housing," said Deputy Roffey.

"We cannot have a situation where our policies bite on private developers but the States believe they are exempt from that policy."Policy and Resources says the legal requirement for social housing could be bypassed by the Development and Planning Authority under certain circumstances which would enable it to push ahead with its plans for desirable, high-end homes on the site.