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Offices And Storage Could Become Affordable Homes

One States Member is calling for unused storage and office spaces to be converted into housing in St Peter Port to 'revitalise' the area.

Officials say there are currently around 500 households on waiting lists for affordable housing in Guernsey, as there is a shortage of suitable accommodation.

Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq says the upper floors of some older buildings could become flats for various kinds of home-owners and renters.

"The population in St Peter Port 100 years ago was roughly the same as it is today and yet there are masses more buildings.

A few years ago I got together a few property owners in town and discovered that many of them just had floors above, not just shops, but many sort of second, third, fourth, even fifth floors above were storage.

Some of them have fantastic views. I think they could become very suitable accommodation for first time buyers, those without families, those just looking for a one or two bed apartment, or even those who are just looking to rent for a short time to take the pressure away from that type of environment."

Views of the harbour could be attractive to renters and buyers.

However, Deputy Le Tocq admits that the location of these buildings as well as the potential views could lead to many islanders being priced out of the market.

Despite these concerns he says it could be avoided.

"It would need to be affordable but at the moment if landlords are just using it for storage and - in fact, in some cases it's just empty - it's not making any money at all really. So, I do think it's doable but we need to be creative.

We've got some excellent architects in Guernsey - we should be trying to harness their creativity to find ways in which those spaces could be used. and the ones I've spoken have said 'You know you're right, this is doable'.

It just requires some changing to planning, it requires some stimulation by government and perhaps some regulation as well, but it's not unachievable."

The former Chief Minister first suggested this plan several years ago.

Deputy Le Tocq says the current ideas to solve the shortage in available, affordable accommodation are not creative enough.

"It's just too easy to build on brown and green field sites so I think, first, we should be looking at what can be done to ensure that we are doing the best that we can with existing buildings.

Particularly in town, because there are many empty shops and I believe town could be revitalised if we had younger people living in it."

The States has recently purchased Kenilworth Vinery as part of the plan to build more affordable homes. The site could provide up to 135 houses.

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