Jersey's historic airport arrivals terminal is no longer facing demolition, it has been confirmed.
The Listed 1937 block had been set for the chop in the airport's £40m redevelopment plans due to concerns expressed by the former Director of Civil Aviation around a decade ago about the ability to operate safely in bad weather.
The regulator had argued that, if the building was not removed, the threshold for landing in poor visibility would be raised, which could cause delays or cancellations for travellers.
The news prompted outcry from heritage campaigners and prompted Planning Committee Chair Russell Labey to call for Ports of Jersey to review the entire airport project and delay demolition until it was complete - a move backed by the States Assembly last June.
Environment Minister Deputy John Young arranged a planning inquiry into the decision, which will now no longer have to go ahead.
Today, CEO Matt Thomas confirmed that the current Director of Civil Aviation, Inez Bartolo, had rescinded the instruction to remove the arrivals building following "her own careful investigations, based on improvements in the maturity of safety management. systems." Express has asked for more details of those improvements, and is awaiting a reply.
He also confirmed that the redevelopment scheme for the airport will now be updated to incorporate the historic building.
Video: A walkthrough of the arrivals process.
“We are relieved that the uncertainty over the Director of Civil Aviation’s previous ruling has now been resolved. Not only will this enable us to preserve an important part of the Island’s heritage, but it enables us to focus our efforts and investment on building the air connectivity, which will be critical to the recovery of the Island’ from the COVID-19 pandemic," Mr Thomas said.
"The DCA, who has overall responsibility for the safe operation of Jersey Airport, first informed Ports of Jersey in 2010 that it would take licensing action if a number of buildings at the airport, including the Arrivals Terminal, were not removed; this was subsequently reconfirmed in 2018 and then again in 2020. The DCA in reaching her decision, has both re-examined the information we have provided to her predecessors and made her own careful investigations, based on improvements in the maturity of safety management systems.
"Ports of Jersey is duty-bound to follow the directions of the DCA as its safety regulator. We welcome this updated guidance that means the arrivals building, part of which dates back to 1937, can be retained. We will now develop options for how it will be incorporated into our future investment plans. Our primary focus will always be to ensure safe and secure operations, whilst investing in a modern, easy-to-use airport terminal that Islanders can be proud of. All designed to help grow connectivity, so vital to the Island’s recovery and growth, whilst showcasing Jersey as a special place to visit.”
Responding to the news, Deputy Labey said: “I welcome this updated guidance that means the arrivals building, part of which dates back to 1937, can be retained.
"It’s important that we value our heritage, and only consider demolition when there is no other option. I am delighted that, in this case, another option has been identified which maintains safety for airport users but also safeguards one of our much-loved historic buildings.”
Save Jersey's Heritage welcomed the news, saying it was a conclusion to a "20-year saga of repeated setbacks".
They had commissioned their own 'Aeronautical Study' from aviation consultants ASAP, whose conclusions, they said, debunked the claims that the terminal had to be demolished for safety reasons.
Marcus Binney, President of the group, commented: "The 1937 air terminal has been a landmark since the day it opened, announcing that the island of Jersey was entering the age of passenger flight in style by using the best airport architects in Britain. Retained and refurbished, it can be a credit to Jersey just as much as the elegant 1930’s Midland Hotel in Morecambe or the De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill."
He added: "Now [ASAP's] conclusions have been accepted, thanks recently to the splendid efforts of Deputy Russell Labey, we have a win-win-win situation: a pioneer example of early Modernism can be restored, substantial sums can be saved, and sustainability targets met.
"In recent years Jersey’s architectural heritage has suffered hard and needless losses. This welcome decision by Ports of Jersey will give heart to all those who believe the architecture bequeathed to the island by our forebears can contribute to the community for many years to come."
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