Questions and answers about the La Folie project

Q. Why has it taken so long to start developing La Folie?

A: Various options have been considered over the years, but these have either proved to be financially unviable or have failed to attract sufficient levels of public support or political will. In 2015, following our incorporation, the site was entrusted to our newly formed company, which is in a position to source ideas and suggestions as well as identifying prospective business partners, with the ambition that a worthwhile and suitable proposal can be identified to revitalise this much-loved site.

Q. Is this already a ‘done deal’- ie have you already decided what is to be constructed on the site and you are simply going through a process of ‘engaging with the public’?

A: We have no pre-determined ideas regarding the future of the site, which is why we wish to hear from any individuals or businesses with suggestions and feasible proposals for how the site could be developed in the future.

Q. Why are you seeking public opinion on this particular project, as it appears their views have not previously been sought?

A: We acknowledge that La Folie commands much public affection. While we are keen to ensure that it delivers a commercial return, we equally recognise that we have been entrusted to act as custodians and guardians of the site on behalf of the Island.

This is not the first time we have sought public opinion, as we recognise the key role that we play in the lives of all residents, and consequently, we’re keen to hear views on a number of matters. For example, throughout the process of incorporation, and prior to it being debated in the States Assembly, a comprehensive public consultation process was carried out, including hearings and meetings designed to gauge opinion relating to the proposals. Since incorporation, we have already sought views and opinions on a number of matters, including the future retail and catering offering at the Airport, the demand for an ATM in the Arrivals Hall, and plans for the Steam Clock. In addition, we established a dedicated email communication channel ask@ports.je in 2015, through which islanders can pose questions and share their opinions relating to the company’s activities and future plans.

Q. Who owns La Folie? i.e. Is it the people of Jersey (through the States) or Ports of Jersey? If the latter, when did the company purchase it?

A: The structure and the land on which La Folie sits was entrusted to us at the time of our incorporation in October 2015. We fully appreciate our central role in the economy, community and society of the Island and it is in recognition of this role that we are seeking to identify proposals that generate a commercial return (for the benefit of the users of the ports and the people of Jersey) while remaining sympathetic to the maritime nature and the heritage of the site.

Q. How much money has been invested to date on this project and how much will any feasibility studies cost? Will the Jersey taxpayer be responsible for any funding?

A: La Folie site was transferred to us upon our incorporation in October 2015, and to date no costs have been incurred. One of the fundamental principles underpinning the case for our incorporation was to ensure that the ports continue to provide the essential services and facilities upon which the Island depends without having to seek recourse to the taxpayer. Therefore, any future development plans of La Folie that may be pursued will be undertaken without any call on funding or financial support from the taxpayer. In seeking to engage with the public, we recognise the need to do so in a commercially viable and financially prudent manner. Consequently, our aim is to identify initiatives that enable us to generate an income from the site in order to support our substantial financial obligations in respect of ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure at the Airport, the Harbours and the outlying Harbours.

Q. What lessons have been learnt in the wake of perceived poor public engagement over the Ports Galots proposal?

A: It would be inappropriate for us to comment specifically on the Ports Galots proposition as, other than being identified as ‘landlord’ of the site, we are not actively involved in any of the initial discussions and public communications. However, we acknowledge the importance of keeping everyone informed and of listening to views and suggestions from interested parties, which is why we are proactively seeking views and opinions through this process.

Q. Can you assure the public that something will be done to improve La Folie or if it is subsequently deemed not to be commercially viable will it remain derelict as it is now?

A: We recognise that the site has been the subject of much speculation and comment over the years and accept that for various reasons, little has happened. In view of the fact that we have been entrusted with the management and overall responsibility for La Folie, and wish to see it restored to a commercially viable asset, and a location of which Jersey can be proud, we believe that we can unlock value from the site. However, any pursued project or initiative must be commercially viable and financially sound as it would be irresponsible to pursue a project that resulted in a drain on resources and finances that could otherwise be allocated to other projects and initiatives. Consequently, we are focusing our energy and attention on delivering a commercially viable project that serves to enhance the site.

Q. How much income is currently derived from the site and how much could be generated in the future?

A: A number of businesses and other users are currently occupying some of the outbuildings and while it is not appropriate to divulge specific details relating to individual commercial arrangements, we accept that the current rental terms reflect the short-term nature of the arrangements that are currently in place. It is our view that if the site was properly developed, and a suitable prospective business partner identified, it should generate higher levels of income than those that are currently being achieved.

Q. What about the current tenants of the site? Will their views be taken into consideration?

A. We have been liaising with the current tenants of the site, keeping them updated with the proposals for public engagement. Their views and their interests will be taken into consideration as part of the overall public engagement process.

Q. What will any monies made on the future La Folie site be used for?

A: When the States Assembly approved our incorporation, one of the key underlying principles behind the decision was to create a body that would assume responsibility for safeguarding the Island’s gateways, both at the Airport and at the Harbours, while maintaining the core infrastructure without constant recourse to the public purse or to the taxpayer. As a result, and in line with this objective, any monies we generate from the assets with which we have been entrusted will be invested in the future safeguarding of the Island’s core port assets.

Q. Does any part of La Folie have any SSI/preservation recognition, meaning it must remain in its current state or could it be demolished and rebuilt in a similar process currently being undertaken at Jersey Airport?

A: Certain parts of the site are the subject of SSI listings, and any proposition for future usage must acknowledge such restrictions. We are seeking to identify projects that represent an enhancement to the waterfront area and which are sympathetic to the heritage and history of the site. Therefore, we envisage that any propositions that we seek to pursue will be of a style and nature that should enable it to successfully secure any permissions that may be required.

Q. Would you consider running a competition to design the new site/building?

A. We wish to capture as many ideas as possible, provided that they are viable and meet our objectives of revitalising the site and enhancing the waterfront area for the benefit of all. We are happy to accept suggestions and ideas from all sectors of the public. If any budding designers or aspiring architects in Jersey wish to submit any concept ideas, their ideas would be most welcome.

Q. Who will be responsible for making the ultimate decision on what will become of the site?

A: We will be responsible for decisions relating to the site, but acknowledge that we need to work in conjunction with others (e.g. Planning) when reaching any decision. We also recognise that a range of factors will need to be assessed and considered when deciding how the site might be developed in the future. These factors include the financial viability of any proposition, but must also reflect the objective of delivering a proposal that will enhance the waterfront area for the ultimate benefit of the entire Island. Consequently, in coming to a decision, the views of local residents, business owners, and all with an interest in the site who have contributed to the engagement process will be considered.

Q. To date, have you received any interest from commercial operators/investors? 

A: We have received a number of approaches and enquiries from prospective parties, some of which are in the process of formulating propositions.  However, at present no definitive suggestions or proposals have been received.

Q. What support will you be looking for, financial or otherwise, from the Government of Jersey/tax payers?

A: We will not be seeking any financial support from the Government of Jersey. The essence of this project is to identify a financially viable and commercially successful initiative that will not need to rely upon financial support from the public purse. However, we will be seeking to work in collaboration with the States and looking for support in non-financial terms from appropriate departments, as we seek to identify and progress a project that serves the interests of the Island as a whole.

Q. When is a decision likely to be made about the future of the building?

A: We will carefully evaluate and assess development ideas, both in respect of their financial viability and in relation to their fit with the overall objectives for the site. While we would like to make progress as soon as is realistically possible, we do wish to allow sufficient time for people to generate ideas and to assess the practicalities and commercial feasibility of any proposals. As a result, the nature of the propositions that we receive will in part determine the time scales.

Q. Will you arrange public meetings to discuss the project as part of the engagement process?

A: Our intention is to engage with all those who have an interest in La Folie, and it is this ambition that has led us to seek views and opinions in the manner in which we are currently doing. Therefore, although no format has yet been determined by which the public will be kept informed, it is very much our intention to keep the public and all interested parties updated as and when it is appropriate to do so.

Q. What happens if a commercial operator makes an approach to buy La Folie? Is it ‘up for sale’?

A: The site is not for sale. We consider ourselves to be the custodians and guardians of the land for the ultimate benefit of Jersey, and consequently, it will act in accordance with such responsibilities.

Q. What is the overall value of La Folie?

A: The site is not for sale, and the value is therefore of limited relevance to any future plans for the site. However, land values are based upon a number of factors, including the potential purpose for which it can be used and its commercial value based upon its usage; consequently, the objective is to deliver a proposal that serves to increase the value of the land from its current state, for the ultimate benefit of the Island.

Q. Do you have any ideas as to what it would like to see built there?

A: We remain open-minded over the potential future use of the site, albeit within certain parameters that have been outlined; namely the need for any proposition to be financially viable, along with the wish to ensure that any development or plans remain sympathetic to the heritage and history of the site, while reflecting the maritime nature of the location.

Q. Similarly, do you have any idea of what can not built there?

A: The site is subject to certain planning regulations, as well as listings, and consequently, any proposition must conform to these restrictions. Thereafter, all proposals will be considered, provided that they adhere to the wish to deliver a project that serves to enhance the waterfront area, and meet our objectives for commercial viability and observe the heritage and history of the site.

Q. If I have further questions that have not been addressed here how can I make them known?

A. We welcomes all ideas, comments and questions relating to the future of La Folie. These can be forwarded by email to ask@ports.je or in writing to Jonathan Crick, Chief Commercial Officer, Ports of Jersey, Jersey Airport, St Peter, Jersey, JE1 1BY. Any businesses interested in discussing future commercial opportunities or potential future uses should contact Jonathan via email at: jonathan.crick@ports.je