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.
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.
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.
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.
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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