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FOCUS: Fort dome doomed as part of major refurb plans

FOCUS: Fort dome doomed as part of major refurb plans

Tuesday 15 June 2021

FOCUS: Fort dome doomed as part of major refurb plans


Fort Regent’s iconic dome roof will disappear from the skyline as part of major refurbishments to make the venue “a first-class modern cultural and leisure destination” within 10 years.

Ministers set out their ‘Future Fort Regent’ vision yesterday - including ideas for a hotel, cinema, conference centre, bowling alley and casino - and are now inviting islanders to share their feedback.

However, at this stage, most of the Government's announcement remains only a 'vision', with exact design, construction and funding details yet to be worked out.

Officials say private funding is likely to be needed.

The 'Early Phase'

'Future Fort Regent' takes a phased approach - the first part of which, dubbed the 'Early Phase', is already said to be underway, with sports clubs and other organisations slowly moving out of the Fort

Once all current occupants have left the venue, the asbestos and redundant structures will be stripped out.

future_fort_project_director_Dave_Curtis.jpg

Pictured: The proposals were presented yesterday by Andy Scate, the Director General for Infrastructure, Housing and Environment (IHE), the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré and Project Director, Dave Curtis.

Work will also start on improving access to the venue, with the creation of a new pedestrian access - possibly in the form of vertical lifts - from Snow Hill and improvements on the access from Pier Road car park.

Ministers then want to create a new flexible space offering a large venue area to be used for concerts, events, shows, exhibitions or markets inside.

“There are a lot of creative people in the island who could use those spaces in a much better way than we ever could and there will be the opportunity to do that at low costs,” Dave Curtis, the Project Director, said.

The ‘Early Phase’ will also include work on the outdoor area, with the return of a garden area and heritage walkways, as well as the creation of a children’s activity play in the moats and ramparts.

The 'Longer Term' phase

Meanwhile, the ‘Longer Term’ phase will focus on creating the winter gardens in the north of the site, a flexible venue capable of hosting from 500 to 2,500 people as well an an indoor ‘leisure box’ with modern play area and food and drink venues. 

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CLICK TO ENLARGE: The potential 'meanwhile', 'shorter term' and 'long term' landscape proposals.

During the presentation, Mr Curtis floated idea of a hotel and leisure 'hub', including a four-screen independent cinema, a six-lane bowling alley and a small to medium size casino.

The first phase is expected to conclude within three years with the second one expected to take up to 10 years to achieve.

Funding

But, while money has already been set aside in the Government Plan for the ‘Early Phase’, the second one will require further investment.

Andy Scate, the newly appointed Director General for Infrastructure, Housing and Environment (IHE), has suggested Government and public money would not be funding all of it.

“You cannot do this all in one go, you have to be sensible and realistic about the investment required to take this project forward,” he said. “We do need to look at how other investors can get involved.”

3Future_Fort_Regent.png

Pictured: The proposed Heritage Trail route would aim to reinterpret the early history of the Fort.

As Mr Curtis mentioned, all of the uses mentioned as part of the ‘Longer Term’ plans will required “commercial operators” to be run but none has been identified so far, although Deputy Hugh Raymond, who chairs the Fort's Political Steering Group, said there had been some interest in the venue.

Dome cry for me

While the exact future of the venue is still unclear, one thing is sure: the Fort’s roof does not feature in the plans, despite featuring in the project’s logo.

Mr Curtis explained that the current roof is now “functionally behind its useful life”. While it is not falling down, he added, it needs replacing and is difficult to adapt. Therefore, it has been decided it would be replaced, enabling the creation of a new space with vertical access. 

As Mr Scate described the roof is “of age” and whilst it “still does the work”, a “variety of leaks” have been identified across the structure.

Given its current state, it was therefore decided it would be best to focus on other uses rather than to invest in it.

6Future_Fort_Regent.png

Pictured: A view of the 'moat' play area for older children.

He however assured there were no plans to affect the historic structure of the building, noting it is recognised as an important part of the island’s heritage.

A pledge from the Chief Minister

During the presentation, the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, stressed that this new approach would be more successful than previous attempts to rejuvenate the Fort.

“This is not just about producing plans on paper, with no commitment or resources to see them through,” he said.

He added that the plans set out were “within reach” and “feasible” with the right commercial approach, which he said would be for future Council of Ministers to look at. 

“We cannot let the Fort continue to decline,” he said. “We must make investments into its future so that it can continue to be enjoyed… You need to access it and use it in a modern way because if you don’t it will wither and die.”

Islanders are being invited to share their views on the proposals via an online survey on the Government website. To complete the survey, click HERE.

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Comments

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Posted by gordon le claire on
no roof that's not good we need somewhere the people can go all year round to enjoy with not roof it will be just a summer place. and if I had my way I would turn king/queen street into a plaza with a roof over for all weather shopping it would help the shop owners as well
Posted by Scott Mills on
hmmmm I'm smell something, is there a voting opertation next year? simply do not believe it. Whatever they end up doing with the fort, it'll be lost on today's generation, and the generation which once enjoyed its hayday, will not be around anymore.
Posted by Scott Mills on
I'm still laughing at the plans. A moat play garden for "older children"...rock in roll kids, the planners/draftspeople are really delving in to their target audience pysche. No word from Humphrey? shocking.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Why oh why is there an almost fetish like obsession with a casino? We will rue the day if this abomination ever comes to pass in the fort.
Posted by Paul Troalic on
Another smokescreen to take concentration away from the Hospital Project.
We will struggle to fund the new hospital and yet they are talking of another huge development albeit with some private funding. Where is all this money coming from?
If they think that tax payers are going to pay for another vanity scheme then they need to think again. Enough is enough, Covid has cost the Island dearly and the government should consider giving more help where justified to keep local businesses afloat. And not just their mates who carry a bit of influence.
This is an incredibly and untimely piece of marketing.
Posted by Scott Mills on
Can't they use the people's views on the fort, when they asked us 10 years ago. Why not return it to a Fort, and house all the politicians there, and they can get on with their agenda (argue, pull faces, brown paper bags) and more importantly achieve very little, while we get on with our lives(especially top echelons of the gov). We just need an "expert" from the UK to do this. Still we got lovely beaches
Posted by Michael Blampied on
I say let’s get the project on the road - no time like the present. Something like £500,000 should be easy to find and sufficient to get the ball rolling - oh……hold on…….
Posted by David Kingham on
Another brainbox waste of money idea, Hotel? Casino (25 years after they were in fashion), the mind boggles who we are paying to come up these wizzkid waste of time efforts, another White Elephants proposal - God help the future
Posted by Private Individual on
Quick slip it through in the middle of a pandemic whilst everyone is too busy earning a living.

This should not be happening before the next election. Fort Regent has already been passed as project 181 for redevelopment into a sporting centre of excellence which this con council seem to have conveniently forgotten about.
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