Flood defences needed before housebuilding, says Constable

Sat 06 Jan 2024

The best way to facilitate house building in the Bridge and Lowlands areas is by creating flood defences across the mouth of St Sampson's harbour, the Vale's Senior Constable has said.


An aerial view of St Sampson's harbour entrance with the low-lying area at risk of flooding seen behind, stretching to Grande Havre

He was commenting after it became clear that a disagreement between the Guernsey Housing Association and the States about flood risk is delaying the development of much needed homes for the island.

"We have made clear that the north of the island is the wrong place for housebuilding on such a large scale given the infrastructure issues involved, but everyone recognises that there is a need for more, cheaper properties for people to live in," said Mr Leale.

And since the States had decided Leale's Yard, Kenilworth Vinery and Fontaine Vinery were suitable sites, government now had an obligation to get on and provide the homes people needed.

"I'm afraid that the latest disagreement between the GHA and the various States departments on flooding risks and the best way of mitigating that is starting to make government look ineffective and that it doesn't know what it is doing," said Mr Leale. "Why spend taxpayer money on buying land for building homes if it's unsuitable for that purpose?" 

Mr Leale told the Guernsey Press (pictured) that the obvious solution – a suggestion which the douzaine had previously made to the Environment and Infrastructure Committee – was to create a barrier across the mouth of St Sampson's Harbour. It is understood that the newly-created Guernsey Development Agency, which has been given States' money to develop the east coast, is pursuing such an idea.

"The fear for the Lowlands/Kenilworth area is a once-in-100-years event in which high tides and a storm surge would overwhelm the Bridge area and inundate the land behind, which was originally reclaimed from the Braye du Valle in the 1800s. That low level of risk frequency means it would be possible to crane barriers across the harbour only when they were needed," he said. 

Earlier plans from E&I included placing a barrier across the Bridge itself with raised roundabouts at either end, but the douzaine objected on the basis that would preclude any road improvements if and when Leale's Yard does go ahead.

It's not known what the latest flood defence plans are or how the disagreement between the States and the Guernsey Housing Association might affect Leale's Yard. The company behind it has previously said its own defences are sufficient and have been approved by planners, insurers and mortgage lenders. 

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