The politician behind the Government's £100m plans to overhaul sport on the island says he has already received a private offer to create facilities in the east of the island.
Launched last week, the Government's 'Inspiring Active Places' strategy promises new multi-purpose facilities at Les Quennevais, Le Rocquier and St. Helier, as well as an all new Island Stadium.
Speaking on the Bailiwick Jersey Podcast, Assistant Minister for Sport Deputy Raymond made it clear that private investment would form an integral part of the plans.
"I’m very much a commercial person, my own background from the UK was that we relied heavily, even 20/30 years ago on investment from outside sources. And from what I can see, the island is ideal for people to put money into these type of things," Deputy Raymond said.
He added: "We’ve had an offer from somebody in the East who would like to put something up which would include indoor facilities for gymnastics and that sort of thing."
Pictured: Deputy Hugh Raymond confirmed that private investment would be a significant part of the island's sport plan.
He continued: "We said, 'What do you want from the Government?' ‘Nothing,’ he said, ‘All I want is planning permission. You can put all the caveats on there that it can only be used for sport.’"
Deputy Raymond also confirmed that there had been private interest in redeveloping the Fort - which will be saying goodbye to sport for good in 2022 - teasing that the Government had had some "encouraging news" and that it will be "making an announcement" in the near future.
Such plans will likely see it redeveloped as a conference, event and concert centre, with Deputy Raymond emphasising that such a facility was needed as a performance venue for musical groups like the Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
To finance such redevelopment, he also hinted that the Government would be willing to charge a peppercorn rent in exchange for a private investor taking on the risk in redeveloping it.
For a number of Jersey's key sporting clubs, the shift in location from the Fort to new facilities will be a seismic change of status quo.
For Roy MacDonald, who has been teaching Kenpo Karate at the Fort for over 40 years, told Express he would have preferred to have stayed at the Fort, but nonetheless described the new plans as "quite exciting".
Pictured: Karate teacher Roy McDonald said he had concerns about sharing facilities with the many other martial arts clubs on the island.
Martial Arts are currently scheduled to be moved to alternative facilities at some point in 2022, with"multi-purpose studios" being created at Springfield for them, which Deputy Hugh Raymond has assured will be completed before clubs are moved out of the Fort. Another multi-purpose studio will then be created at Les Rocquier in 2024, and one in St. Helier in 2030.
However, some of the Martial Arts community are concerned that moving out of the individual dojos they currently have at the Fort and into shared studios - the first of which will be built at Oakfield - will be a downgrade.
While Mr MacDonald said the club “didn't mind" sharing with others, he noted that due to the sheer quantity of clubs on the island, the clamour for the peak times of 17:00 to 19:00 could become difficult to manage in only one facility, and that “ideally” they would have one studio each.
He hastened to add that he’d have to wait and see if the changes actually happen, remarking: “We’ve been there 42 years, and this must be the fifth time we've had those promising plans... I really hope it works, but this is the fifth time it's happened!"
Pictured: Clubs are scheduled to be moved out of Fort Regent in 2022 to alternative facilities at Springfield and Oakfields.
Ray Molloy, who runs Tai Chi Qigong Jersey, felt similarly about sharing martial arts facilities, saying that with the amount of clubs on the island, it would lead to shorter lessons and very little time to fully clean each room.
“If we book in at 18:00 to 19:00, and someone else has got it at 19:00 to 20:00, it means we've got to get out and clean up, and half our training is spent getting the next room ready,” he explained.
"It doesn’t matter how much they spend, it depends on whether they will give us our own room again where we’re responsible."
Mainstay of the Fort for 40 years, Fort Regent Gymnastics, is looking at the new sports plans with cautious optimism.
Julia Falle, who runs the club, described her attitude as “excited for the future, but also a little apprehensive.”
Pictured: Fort Regent Gymnastics would be moved to a new purpose built facility at Oakfields.
Ms Falle previously told Express how she would like to see permanent gymnastics facilities established on the island, as she had found the club was often being moved around the Fort to different spaces, creating difficulty maintaining and looking after equipment.
The strategy outlines how a new permanent gymnastics facility is being built at Oakfield to house Jersey’s gymnastics following the closure of the Fort to sport in 2022, and that permanent facilities will also form part of 2024’s Le Rocquier hub and 2032’s Les Quennevais hub.
“To have access, as a club, to a facility 52 weeks of the year, seven days of the week is going to be fantastic," she said, explaining she has been told they will be able to continue with the hours they had been doing at the Fort.
However, like Mr MacDonald, she also expressed her “reservations” about whether the plans would go ahead and how long it would take, but stated her “hope” that the Government will deliver on what they've promised.
Pictured: Oakfields will offer a new purpose built centre for gymnastics in 2022.
One of the key issues influencing the project will be trust in the Government to fulfil the ambitious plans - something a report on the £100m plans by consultants KKP emphasised.
“Many sports clubs, NGBs and stakeholders do not, at present, have confidence in Government’s ability to address the island’s facility challenges,” it read.
“As such, there will be a need to develop a clear engagement and communication strategy to build trust with stakeholders and the wider public as Government progresses on its chosen way forward.”
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