Romerils has unveiled a plan to transform its store, head office and car park in and around Dumaresq Street into more than 90 homes and a new community area in a move they hope will bring life to a "tired" part of town.
The public is being invited to view and discuss the plans with representatives from Romerils and their architect design team at two open public consultation meetings in the Town Hall today from 12.30 to 19:00 and tomorrow (Thursday 3 November) from 10:00 to 16:00.
Around half of the area around Dumaresq and Hue Street proposed for development is taken up by parking, while the other half is occupied by nine older buildings taking up 26,000sqft in which Romerils currently uses for its shop, offices and storage.
Developed by local architects Axis Mason, the key features of the revamp plan are:
creating public realm space.
Romerils' Chair, Mark Syvret, said the business had been looking to redevelop the area for some time.
“For many years now, Romerils have been developing plans to contribute to the regeneration of what is a tired part of St Helier," he explained.
"We believe the time is now right to proceed with these plans. This project will not only enable us to provide an improved retail experience for our customers but also enhance this area of St Helier with an improved public space and much needed accommodation.”
After already consulting with shops and businesses in the area, Mr Syvret added that he is looking forward to the opinions that will come from the public consultation.
Video: A walkthrough of how the area could look, if Romerils' plans are approved.
Explaining how Romerils was founded 72 years ago by Mr Romeril out of a single-car garage, Mr Syvret explained: “We want to flash-forward another 70 years and cement this part of St. Helier with our retail business.”
He added: “This regeneration and investment into our retail business, and in St Helier, is a clear message of our intention and belief that there is a future in our type of retail.
"We will continue to invest in our great team of people too, as well as delivering to them better showrooms and working environments.”
Pictured: In keeping with the tradition of Romerils local origins and values, and the Island’s desire to embrace heritage in local buildings, the company have decided to deal with the challenges of retaining the original frontage of their current building.
Mr Syvret acknowledged that it may seem like a surprising time to be expanding retail space when so many businesses are moving online, admitting that “no one knows where the retail sector will be in the next 30 years”.
However, his confidence in Romerils’ home interiors retail offering remains as he describes their products as “considered purchases”, with the logistics of buying an expensive kitchen or sofa online being more problematic than viewing the product in person.
The ground floor and bulk of the first floor will be retail space, and Mr Syvret hopes that there will be a possibility for other retail businesses to rent some of the space from Romerils too. The proposed housing units will be built on top of this space.
Pictured: The proposed view towards Hue Street / Dumaresq Street Corner South.
“We know and understand the extent of the housing crisis in Jersey,” said Mr Syvret. “We believe that this area is a logical site for a large number of housing units, however we want to encourage a debate around what height and density is appropriate.”
He added: “We believe we have the scope to build upwards as there are already very tall buildings in the surrounding Hue Court area. However, in the south side of the site, towards Pitt Street, there are more historic buildings so we aren’t suggesting as much height in this area.”
With regards to the residential development, Mr Syvret continued: “In delivering 94 units of accommodation, present regulations dictate we need to be providing at least 15% of these to affordable housing.
"While it is too early to say exactly how many we can make available under the affordable housing scheme, I can say we will be exceeding this requirement, and as many as the financial viability allows us to”.
Pictured: The proposed view towards Dumaresq / Hue Street Corner North.
Although Mr Syvret describes the proposed Romerils area as “more of a balanced and shared space than completely pedestrianised”, this development coincides with the recent pedestrianisation and planned £120m renovation of Broad Street.
He hopes that the two areas will provide a sense of “connectivity”, with the “two bits of change complementing and enhancing each other”.
His ultimate vision is to transform the “unattractive” back ends of Romerils into a “very pleasant area” with more green space, community space, and seating areas. Mr Syvret also hopes that the area by the Posthorn Pub could become a “multi-use space” for a whole host of different community events.
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.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.