Fort Regent plans shelved – so what now for sport in Jersey?

QUESTIONS about the future of the island’s sports infrastructure have been raised – as the government shelved ‘unworkable’ plans for Fort Regent.

Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet announced that the Future Place Ministerial Group was reassessing what could be delivered during this term and said the latest redevelopment program for the sports facility – unveiled by the previous government in 2021 – is no longer affordable.

The plans, which would take shape over a decade-long redevelopment, included proposals for a multi-purpose venue for conferences, sporting events and concerts, as well as a hotel, cinema, bowling alley and casino.

Deputy Tom Binet PICTURED: ROB CURRIE. (35184940)

And Steve Pallett, who previously held political responsibility for the sport, said he feared the sport would be “pushed to the back of the queue” on funding, even though a number of facilities on the island are in dire need of investment.

He said: “I can understand why the infrastructure minister said what he said, but we have to ask ourselves: do we want a fort building to be proud of, or do we let it fall into such a dilapidated state that we can’t do it.” are the doors closing forever?

“I fear what will happen to the Active Place strategy. This gave us a clear vision of how we could renew our sports facilities over a period of ten years.

“There is no money in the government plan and I fear there will be no clear commitment to improving sports facilities for four years.”

Steve Pallett PICTURED: DAVID FERGUSON. (35184943)

The prospect of Jersey hosting major sporting events was thrown into doubt when the Super League Triathlon was dropped from the calendar after government funding was withdrawn.

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And earlier this week Jon Marley, director of the 2023 NatWest Island Games, to be held in Guernsey, claimed the Channel Islands would struggle to host the event in the future due to costs and a lack of accommodation.

These claims have been disputed by senior island politicians. However, Mr Pallett warned Jersey is reaching a point where it may not have the infrastructure to host major events.

“I’m sure the Chief Minister would take the opportunity to host the Island Games here because we all saw how it boosted morale in 2015.

“We’re getting to a point where we can’t host it anymore unless we’re very careful because that infrastructure is starting to break down.”

Mr Pallett said the sports center at Les Quennevais was nearing the end of its life and would soon need to be replaced, while a planned development at Le Rocquier had been scrapped.

Referring to the fort, he added: “We had many plans and nothing happened. My fear is that we will come to the end of this four-year term and nothing will have happened again.’

Deputy Binet, in response to a written question from MP Mary Le Hegarat, described the plans “developed under the previous government” as “unworkable in the current economic climate”.

He added, “The Future Places Ministerial Group is reassessing what is feasible and committed to developing an affordable and workable proposal for the future of Fort Regent and to securing a mandate from the State Assembly to do so.”

He also revealed that the number of government services, sports clubs and businesses operating from the fort has fallen from 39 in 2019 to 21 earlier this year. He added that this is expected to be reduced to five by 2024.

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“The projected numbers tie in with planned openings of facilities at Springfield Sports Center in 2023 and Oakfield Sports Center in 2024,” added Deputy Binet.

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