Buildings and land owned by St Helena Government are about to be advertised on the open market, according to Stuart Planner of Enterprise St Helena. But anyone who needs property for a business needn’t wait, he said.
They are for sale “effectively, now”, he told listeners to Saint FM. “Come and talk to me.”
Architects are due on the island in August to look at the redevelopment potential of historic assets, including the public works store in Jamestown, and some of the so-called “chief secretary” houses that have traditionally been used to house government officials.
They could be given a new life as hotels and guest houses, he suggested.
The visiting experts will also consider the how the wharf area could be re-used once the airport is open.
“St Helena government still owns in excess of 80% of lands and buildings on the island. A lot of those buildings weren’t being used effectively and with a bit of moving around we could get SHG to own less, which means more for the public sector.
“Anything is possible on this island but we have to have to have in mind what we are doing: we are trying to create a fantastic place for tourists to come and for the island to enjoy. We have to have a regard for the word ‘sustainability.’
“We are gearing the economy towards low volume tourism. There are going to be large operators on the island but everything is going to benefit.
“We have a couple of large hotel development opportunities but the island needs diversity – guest houses and small hotels, restaurants, bars, warehouses, workshops and, of course, houses, so anything is possible on this island.”
Stuart said he wanted to see the market in Jamestown refurbished, and used to sell the fresh produce that tourist establishments would need.
“We are trying to create a fantastic place for people to come. Opportunities exist but they have to fit with the sustainable development plan. Any development must be sustainable, not only in the way it is built but how the business is run within it.”
Asked about the potential to turn Ladder Hill Fort into a luxury hotel, he said: “We have some fantastic assets and we need to start work with architects now to look at these schemes.
“Before anything is done we have to look into the welfare of the tenants there. That means new housing. Nothing will be done until that housing is ready.”
- A new law was enacted on Monday 16 July 2012, formally establishing Enterprise St Helena as the body responsible for economic development on the island. It has now formally replaced the St Helena Development Agency. A government statement said: “Up to now ESH has been operating in name only, as sanctioned by the former SHDA board of directors.”
Re: “The visiting experts will also consider the how the wharf area could be re-used once the airport is open.” This is something which seems to be being totally overlooked: how large items and cargo are going to be transported into St Helena after the airport arrives. It is likely that there will be more requirement for cargo coming in by sea after the airport arrives. Especially with the amount of development this is going to trigger. Not only does St Helena need its airport it also requires somewhere to berth cargo vessels – ie, a harbour. This could also offer enhanced facilities for cruise ship and yacht visits.
- Robert Thomson