Steve Williams from the Guernsey Housing Association, Matt Brouard from Cooper Brouard and Pierre Blampied from SPF, joined John Randall at BBC Radio Guernsey, for their monthly discussion.
John kicked things off by asking Matt if the Havelet Waters development, has been completed yet. Matt tells us that the builders have now left the development, and viewings are now taking place. With the great views being a major selling point, and with a number of high quality apartments on offer, viewings have been taking upwards of 1 ½ hours to complete. He is optimistic that these homes will sell quickly, as he has seen a high volume of interest.
Steve was congratulated for his recent award of ‘construction professional of the year’, at the Construction Industry Awards ceremony, which took place on 08th November. Steve said it was a great evening to be part of, and it was a good opportunity to bring together professionals from all areas, around 330 in total, and to celebrate their successes.
Pierre joins the conversation by discussing the lending figures that came out at the end of October. He goes on to say that unlike previous years, the lending on the island, around 76% of the house purchase market has been split between four different lenders. He tells us that this is an improvement on previous years, as it has previously been split between only two lenders. This is evidence that we have four strong and active providers, on the market.
Barclays have lent 40 million pounds, for house purchases, Skipton have lent 38 million, RBS 32 million and Lloyds 31 million, respectively. John questions if there are other providers available. Pierre explains that both Investec and Kleinwort Benson are also strong lenders in that sector, but they are private banks and lend to high net worth individuals, by providing bespoke mortgages, opposed to the retail banks. Both Investec and Kleinwort have lent 13 million pounds between them, on house purchases this year.
Housing is next on the agenda, with Steve from the Guernsey Housing Association explaining how they have completed fifty properties this year, including the Warry’s site, The Guelles Road development, plus ten additional properties, in the Castel. There are eighty seven properties currently under construction, across five sites, which are being completed throughout 2019 and 2020.
Amongst these builds are key worker accommodation with HSC, for nurses, which is based at the Ville Au Roi site and eight bungalow properties which will provide accommodation for people with autism, who are returning to the island. These are due to be completed next June.
John asks if any more new builds are being planned. Steve tells us that whilst the GHA are not actively seeking to purchase private land, they are aware that they will run out of land in around two years time. With this in mind, the GHA are currently in talks with the States of Guernsey, to source any land that could be developed and utilised by the GHA.
Discussions turn to the Comprop development at Sydney Vane House, Admiral Park. Steve explains that the development has been ongoing for some time now, due to revised planning permission and reworking of the designs. These plans could include a new cinema, but if planning is successful, it is not likely to be built until the final phase of the development. The guests discuss Jersey’s development methods and talk about how their government have become involved in the islands developments, having successfully created commercial office space themselves, and then selling them on. Build costs are rising, however, and the yields are not great. Pierre stated that the commercial property sector is quiet with little quality stock on the market with investors keeping what they hold.
Looking forward to future big builds in Guernsey, the guests discuss Leale’s Yard, which appears to be ‘building up pace’, with its planning and development action. Pierre’s suggestion is that perhaps the States of Guernsey show some support with this project, possibly by utilising Deputy Gavin St Pier and Lyndon Trott’s idea of putting in money from the bond, which would have a positive impact on the Guernsey economy.
Steve from GHA agreed with Pierre, going on to say that he believes that the States of Guernsey should support this project initially, to ‘get it going’, and then hand it over to the private sector developers, who can then move in and complete it. There would be benefits to Guernsey’s government by doing so, as there will be document duty from the sales etc.
Current plans for Leale’s Yard incorporates 412 homes and 300 underground parking spaces, which Steve believes should be revised to include more commercial properties and above ground parking. The GHA do not want to take the lead role with Leale’s Yard. That being said, Steve tells us that the GHA would strongly consider a number of properties on the site.
The group talk Brexit next, with Matt from Cooper Brouard telling us that he has seen improved sales and enquiries from the UK. He believes that these clients are fearful of the uncertainty of what lies ahead for the mainland.
Pierre concludes the conversation by telling us that 1.3 million pounds has been brought into the States to the end of October, from both remortgaging and house purchase bonds. This will change from 1st January, with document duty being more expensive, and the bond fee being cheaper. This will not affect first-time buyers too much, but instead individuals who already hold mortgages, who wish to switch from one lender to another, will benefit.
You can listen to the discussion in full here.