Council To Spend More Housing Money Clearing Old School Site

old school carn thomas 2014Councillors have agreed to spend over a third of their housing reserve to demolish the former secondary school building at Carn Thomas.

A report by the Head of Economic Development, Diana Mompoloki, presented to members of the Transport, Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee, shows the cost of clearing the site has rocketed to £860,000.

If the Council can’t find money from grants, which Cllr Gordon Bilsborough said was “unlikely” then £560,000 will need to come from the housing reserve.

A further £275,000 will be used from the sale of a Council-owned property at Sallyport with the remaining £25,000 being money paid by Kier Construction for rental of the building during the recent quay extension work.

Diana said the rise in costs was due to disposal of waste, which can no longer be dealt with on the islands.

Cllr James Francis said he was “amazed at the cost of knocking this thing down.”

He said he had experience of demolishing a site bigger than the old school and that came to £75,000. James said even with the extra costs of transporting waste, he couldn’t see why this was “ten times more.”

Councillors have previously agreed to clear the site to make it easier to attract funding for social housing.

They had hoped to develop elder care or affordable local-needs homes, but Diana said that funding for these types of schemes had stopped since the last general election.

The government was now focussing on shared ownership.

Diana’s report said to make the site viable, and therefore attract grants for development, they would need to offer at least 50% of the possible 30 properties as ‘starter’ homes, which are capped at £250,000 and must be occupied by first time buyers below 40 years of age.

Another alternative, she writes, would be to offer the land to the private sector for development, with covenants on the sale “to negate movement into the second home market.”

Councillors sought assurances that any profits made from the development would be put back into the housing reserves to repay the cost of the demolition.

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