'Complicated and pricey': Calls to ease planning rules to fill empty Guernsey buildings

There are calls for authorities in Guernsey to make planning applications easier and cheaper to reduce the number of empty buildings on the island.

It follows an announcement in the recent budget that a property tax at five times the normal rate would be imposed on owners of unoccupied buildings and derelict glasshouses.

However, some businesses say that encouraging investment in vacant properties is still a tough sell without first loosening planning rules.

"It's very complicated and extremely pricey," said Natalia Silvester, a business owner who spoke about applying for new construction projects.

"It's very expensive to renovate and the planning application is extortionate and very long and it's very hard to get construction companies to do the work".

Suggestions have also been made to repurpose some of the derelict buildings owned by the States as well as other vacant structures.

This includes some of the occupation-era concrete structures that are dotted across the island.

"Some bunkers are just buried at the moment," said Paul Bourgaise, the chair of Festung Guernsey.

"It doesn't do them any good with condensation so the best thing you can do is use them and get the air flowing through."

A States property manager told ITV News that although they are "always confined by their budget but will always be open to enquiries and offers on their empty buildings".

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