Economic Certainty Through Flexibility
Undertaking a substantial project like the Jersey International Finance Centre requires future focussed thinking, with a clear understanding of risk and how to mitigate it. We know that this build hasn’t been popular with everyone, and we continue to engage with those who disagree with the JIFC development in whole or in part. The phased approach we’re taking ensures that the development is by no means a unilateral ‘steamroller’ of a project, done in one big go with no consultation, forethought or flexibility. As a States owned company, we take our responsibility to using public land for the Island’s greater good very seriously. We know that needs and circumstances may change, so our plan has been designed with this is in mind.
What does ‘phased approach’ mean?
It basically means that the ‘master plan’ for the new finance centre isn’t set in stone, but is rather a set of parameters and milestones that are open to change according to developing facts on the ground. It means we work in increments to ensure that reality informs our next steps so we can mitigate risk while also making commitments. It ensures both accountability and flexibility.
Our current projections for the next 5 years are:
- Building No.4 completed, fully let and sold
- Building No.5 completed and fully let
- Sufficient pre-lets on Buildings No.3 and No.6 to allow construction to commence, with one of those buildings nearing completion
We are working in stages to ensure that each phase is viable and deliverable before committing to the next one.
Why is the phased approach being used?
1) It shows sensitivity to Jersey’s specific conditions
As fervent advocates of Jersey’s development, we are attuned to the Island’s economic and social needs and the environment.
Completed development on St. Helier’s Waterfront for example covers a mix of uses, including 585 residential units (159 of which are Affordable Rental or First Time Buyer homes), a 195 bed hotel, a 71 bed aparthotel, 1,000 public car parking spaces, shops, restaurants and leisure spaces and extensive community open spaces.
We knew that we couldn’t just create block after block of offices in rapid progression; the effects of such an overwhelming influx into the office market in one go would create an unsustainable surplus. Understanding Jersey’s market is one of the reasons why we are taking a phased approach to the build. Half a million square feet of office space in London will make nowhere near as much of an impact on the broader economy as it will here; we know this, so we are being responsible with the rate of the build.
2) It enables progress while also mitigating risk
People have expressed concerns about the project leaving blocks and blocks of empty offices, amounting to a senseless waste of public money and space. Firstly, we aren’t using public money to fund the build. Secondly, the phased approach enables us to let the office space in financially sustainable increments as we go along. This ensures that the rate of the build is in line with the rate of demand.
3) It gives us inherent flexibility to make the best use of public land
The phased approach gives us the requisite flexibility to respond to new facts on the ground as they emerge. For example, the western part of the Esplanade Quarter site is now under consideration for the new hospital build. If government decides that the land would be better used in this capacity, we would support this and integrate it into our plan. Similarly, if the government deemed aspects of the build more suited to residential space we could adapt our plans to accommodate this.
The demand for Grade A Office Space in Jersey is substantial, and we will lose out on a much-needed injection of new business and fresh ideas into Jersey’s economy if we do not answer it. At the same time, we’re taking a sensible, phased approach to the build, balancing our commitments to the public and ensuring momentum for the project while also mitigating risk.