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Ministers tear up "unfeasible" Fort resurrection plan

Ministers tear up

Wednesday 08 February 2023

Ministers tear up "unfeasible" Fort resurrection plan

Wednesday 08 February 2023

After tearing up plans for a new hospital at Overdale, the new government has canned another major project of the previous Council of Ministers: transforming Fort Regent into a state-of-the-art culture and entertainment venue with lift access from Snow Hill.

In June 2021, then Chief Minister John Le Fondré launched ‘Future Fort’ – an eight-year redevelopment of the Regency fortification on Mont de la Ville.

The ambitious plans included a winter garden visitor attraction with walkways in the sky, a major entertainment, a 2,000-seat conference and exhibition venue, a 150-bed hotel, cinema, bowling alley, casino, and restaurants, cafes and bars.

At the end of last year, Express reported that work to turn Fort Regent into a ‘cultural and leisure destination’ has been put on hold to accelerate the move of sport out of the venue.

Now, Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet has gone a step further: confirming that plans for the future of Fort Regent that were developed under the previous Government are “unfeasible in the current economic climate”.

Video: Former Chief Minister John Le Fondré introducing the now-scrapped 'Future Fort' vision.

However, he added: “The Future Places Ministerial Group are reassessing what is feasible and are committed to developing an affordable and deliverable proposal for the future of Fort Regent, and to securing an appropriate mandate from the States Assembly.”

And giving an update on the move of sport out of the centre, he said: “The number of Government services, sports clubs and commercial enterprises operating at Fort Regent has reduced from 39 in 2019 to 21 in 2023, this is expected to reduce to five in 2024. 

“The predicted figures are linked to the planned opening of facilities at Springfield Sport Centre in 2023 and Oakfield Sport Centre in 2024.”

Deputy Binet’s comments, given in a formal written answer to a question from Deputy Mary Le Hegarat, confirm that the previous Government’s plans have been dropped.

Future Fort Regent plans.png

Pictured: Indicative plans for the 'Future Fort' project were published in June 2021. 

Back in the summer of 2021, Senator Le Fondré had told islanders: “Frankly, the Fort is not fit for its current purpose as a sports centre. With funding in place for the first stage of the Inspiring Active Places project [£5m], we are hopeful that sports users will be able to move into their homes early next year.

“With over nine acres of space to develop, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to create a significant new amenity for the island.

“I am pleased to share our plans to transform Fort Regent into a first-class cultural and leisure destination and to reclaim its status as a hub of island life for tourists and islanders of all ages to enjoy.”

Senator Le Fondré launched a six-week public consultation at the same time.

Although the move of sport out of Fort Regent has been the main effort since then – something the new Government has continued – some minor works have taken place.

This includes some clearing work for the creation of once-planned botanical gardens and scenic walkways.

A planning application has also been submitted by Jersey Development Company to build a lift from Snow Hill car park to the Fort, which has not been withdrawn and remains yet to be determined.

Snow Hill Fort Regent Lift

Pictured: The proposed lift connecting Snow Hill to Fort Regent.

Both the Government’s Historic Environment Team and the National Trust object to the lift plans as they stand.

The previous Government obtained planning permission for a £804.5m hospital campus at Overdale but this has been dropped by current administration in favour of a multi-site approach.

Although it has secured funding to develop a business case for the new plans, the States’ decision to approve the old Our Hospital project is yet to be formally rescinded. 


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INSIGHT: 'Future Fort'... 25 years of copy and paste?

FOCUS: Casino and hotel Fort plans met with public shrug 

End of era for sport at the Fort as £100m multi-facility plans unveiled

New centre proposed at Fort or Waterfront to help arts thrive

"If they close the Fort for sports, it'll be the biggest crime Jersey's committed"

WATCH: 'Slideatron' creators called in to inject life into Fort

FOCUS: Penny for your Forts...

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Martin on
WHY NOT turn Fort Regent into the Hospital - then it would be slightly older than the current one?
Posted by John Henwood on
Not sure on which side of the balance this decision comes down. The previous plan was wildly
ambitious and under no circumstance should it have been put forward in the expectation that it would be funded by public money. On the other hand, if the plan was sufficiently attractive for private enterprise to invest, there would have been no significant downside for taxpayers. On balance it is probably wise of Deputy Binet to scrap the plan. However, along with that decision he should have set out his own vision for the future of the Fort. Whatever that might be, I sincerely hope it does not involve further use of public resources, far too much money has already been poured down that seemingly bottomless pit.
Posted by Robert Gabriel on
Fort Regent has enormous potential but that doesn't mean that the taxpayer should pick up the bill for its redevelopment. If the cost of redeveloping Fort Regent means it is sold to the private sector in order to achieve that aim then so be it!
Posted by The old git Git on
Get a Casino up there and The States with the tax from that will have an open cheque book to spend spend spend
Posted by Sheila Young on
Maybe we need to build SOME MORE FLATS! I'm sure that proposal would be approved.
Posted by JonathanLe Gresley12 on
Keep the sport up at the Fort. Instead of moving buisness out the States should be encouraging more and reinvesting in the Fort rather than letting it go to ruin. Far too few places in Jersey to go for Joe public as it is.
Posted by Frale Le Pre on
It would be nice for someone to tell the truth about Fort Regent for a change.
It's not derelict but it does need maintenance, just like every other building that exists on the planet.
Let's just go over a few points.

Fort Regent was gifted to the island.
Over the years it has been home to many clubs and businesses that have paid rents to use the rooms and facilities and all sorts of events have been held there, from circuses to ice skating to the dance world cup..
But the Fort doesn't get to keep the money it makes and reinvest in it's upkeep and facilities. So no matter how busy the venue has been it has to ask for money for it's upkeep & we're told it's a drain on finances.

“The number of Government services, sports clubs and commercial enterprises operating at Fort Regent has reduced from 39 in 2019 to 21 in 2023"
This was the Fort with full occupancy, making money for the island in rent & saving the island money from rents, which raises two points.
1.Because the Government has moved it's services out from this building it owns & now these services are paying for rental elsewhere.
2.Businesses have left not because they were unhappy with Fort Regent but because the Government has been telling them they will have to leave. (Also Steve Pallet would ony give new licences of up to six months, deterring anyone from moving in)
So instead of correcting these "mistakes" the government proposes building two new facilities, at God knows what cost (prices have risen slightly lately) but in venues with a tenth of the parking at best!
The Fort will never be a casino, we don't have the population or visitor numbers to fund anything more than room full of fruit machines and which private enterprise is waiting to step in?
If anyone has the name of a real company I'm sure we'd all love to hear it.

So we can either make the Fort work for the island again or close it down & award more massive building contracts to create venues that won't be as accessible or provide the services that Fort Regent does now.

But this is Jersey, we all know the States can't resist a big contract
Posted by Keith Marsh on
Is this new Government opposed to everything ?
No to Overdale one site CHEAPER hospital; now no to making the fort fit for use.
What is Jersey doing to itself.
Posted by Jon Jon on
Turn it into a casino and high class hotel, easy money for the States!
Posted by Austin Marsh on
This has Dandara written all over it knock it down build more flats
Posted by Gary O'Brien on
Yes keep fort regent for sport. It does need updating to put on that sport , so regardless of what happens millions needs to be spent. Why worry about taxpayers money? States members don't.
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