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Flat-pack hotel plan gives time to sort ‘issues’, says Linda

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Building work on St Helena’s Wirebird Hills eco-hotel looks set to start thousands of miles away – and a year later than planned.

Developer Shelco has opted to have it pre-fabricated overseas and shipped out to the island, to be assembled at Broad Bottom.

Construction work on site was due to start in April 2013, but will now be delayed by up to a year.

But Linda Houston told Saint FM that building a pre-fab hotel would take less time, so the planned opening date remained late 2016.

She also said that the delay would minimise risks and allow time to address concerns over air routes and expected visitor numbers.

The delay was agreed at a Shelco meeting in London in September 2012.

“By leaving it for a year, it allows us to get more certainty about some of the other issues,” said Linda. “It makes no difference to our end-date.”

She said other critical factors included verification of likely visitor numbers, and progress on other initiatives across the island, such as the masterplan for improving Jamestown.

“Shelco is in for the long haul,” said Linda. “People need to undestand there will be changes and adjustments but the project is continuing.

“We secured our conditional planning consent in June. There was euphoria in Shelco about that, in London and here. The planning consent was just the beginning of what will be a long complex, five- to ten-year delivery process.

“We are not putting back the end date of the project but we are changing the way we achieve that result.

“We are actively talking to two international companies for very high quality pre-fab development.

“Jeremy Blake, our architect, is continuing to talk to the Oberoi hotel group and is going out again for second time this year to Delhi to talk in more detail about this, and that will be part of the assessment to see who we finally select to do the prefab work.”

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