The Government is to sign a 25-year lease on another Broad Street premises as part of its plans for a new 'OneGov' HQ.
Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis has made an official decision to sign a new lease with the owners of 31-41 Broad Street, LMN Jersey Investments Limited, which will come into force in two weeks’ time.
The declared reason for the decision is to “support the continued implementation of the Office Modernisation Programme, as previously agreed by the States when approving the 2021 Government Plan.”
The Government moved its main base from the now empty Cyril Le Marquand House to the former Royal Bank of Canada headquarters in Broad Street in 2019 as part of a wider strategy to consolidate its offices, save money, free up sites for housing and improve coordination between departments.
Renting the current Broad Street office was always considered as a temporary arrangement with the long-term plan being to downside from 21 offices to seven blocks, possibly at a single – but as yet unidentified – site.
Pictured: The Government moved out of Cyril Le Marquand house in 2019.
Moving into an unbuilt block of the Jersey International Finance Centre has been mooted in the past and not ruled out by the Chief Minister.
In July 2018, when the Government announced that that five States departments at Cyril Le Marquand would be consolidated into Broad Street, it called it a “short-term solution until a purpose-built office is developed”.
The move cost between £2m and £3m and the annual rent was revealed at £1m. The Government said it would call Broad Street its home for at least five years.
However, in November, when questioned by Scrutiny about the Government Plan, Senator Le Fondré said that the Government had started a process to find a site but the details were commercially sensitive.
He added that, in the light of the economic impact of the pandemic, the Government preferred a “flexible” approach rather than committing to buy.
“Accordingly the Council of Ministers supported an option to initially enter into an agreement for lease, with an option to purchase within three years of completion at a fixed price.”
The Chief Minister said that continuing to lease rather than buy would not create extra costs in the short term, but the Government had set aside £5m in 2024, which would be the rent payable if it decided not to buy or construct its own building.
He added that any rent would be “below the market rate for a comparable building in St Helier.”
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It is fine for K Lewis to sign this as it is likely he will not be in position to explain this potentially quarter century commitment & I doubt the rent will be fixed for that period?
Is Cyril Le Marquand to be rented out to cover some of the costs!