Press Release 25.01.2022
Plans submitted for regeneration of Southwest St Helier Waterfront
Gillespies has submitted plans to the Government of Jersey for the significant regeneration of Southwest St Helier (SWSH) into a well-connected, highly sustainable mixed-use coastal community and cultural hub for this unique setting.
The 11.5-ha development for client Jersey Development Company (JDC) will, over the next ten years, radically transform the SWSH area into a vibrant, energetic, and climate-resilient urban neighbourhood anchored by exciting new destinations and connected by a network of streets and green spaces. The scheme will deliver significant new community spaces, including 32,301m² of commercial, social infrastructure, cultural and leisure facilities, including an indoor kids' zone, up to 1,000 new homes and over 65,755m² of vibrant, fully accessible public realm.
The Framework allows flexibility for change but also sets in place fundamental parameters on climate, sustainability, biodiversity, connectivity and movement, open space, uses, design, building heights and views to ensure the vision is delivered for the Jersey community.
On behalf of JDC, Gillespies are leading the landscape and urban design for the Visioning Framework and managing a design consortium which includes Jersey-based planning experts MS Planning and Nurture Ecology, as well as a collective of UK experts, including HETA architects, AECOM, Waterman, WSP and community consultation experts, Iceni.
The SWSH Visioning Framework builds on the principles of the Southwest St Helier Planning Framework 2019. The proposals outline a 'landscape-led' vision for the Waterfront and set the design parameters for establishing how the area could be transformed to deliver significant and meaningful social, economic and environmental benefits for the island community. As stewards of the natural and built environment, landscape architects and urban designers advocate for climate-positive outcomes, amplifying nature in an urban setting and delivering memorable backdrops to stage everyday life.
This Visionary Framework has been informed by a series of three public consultations, which took place between October 2020 and August 2021. There was a high level of engagement and constructive contributions from the consultation. The consultations comprised regular workshops and discussions with the local community, local businesses, the Government of Jersey, St Helier Parish officials and other key stakeholders and statutory consultees.
Key findings during the public consultations included lowering the proposed heights of buildings, design style and the amount of open space and public realm. The design team responded to comments by reducing the height of the taller corner buildings to a maximum of eight storeys and bringing the gateway building down from 16 storeys to a maximum of 12.
Feedback also highlighted the desire for increased areas of leisure across the site, including more open spaces to play, enhanced public realm, additional water features and more opportunities for art and culture.
A key driver of the Framework is the delivery of an authentic place that reflects St Helier's character and its people. In addition to a site-specific design, the scheme delivers a diverse and inclusive community-focused programme. Jersey waterfront is a place for people and has been designed with large-scale open spaces for events and recreation, as well as intimate minor spaces for small community gatherings.
To stimulate movement across the neighbourhood, the site is subdivided into five key zones, each with its own distinct identity and purpose, yet intrinsically linked by a network of green streets, squares, arcades and lanes and a cohesive palette of materials and colour.
A Mixed-Use cultural core forms the heart of this new destination. The centrepiece is a flexible urban square animated by an art-house cinema, cafes, shops, maker spaces, galleries, community facilities and access to a public basement cycle hub. The Square offers locals and visitors an exciting and lively meeting place surrounded by groves of trees, good sunlight and shelter from the prevailing winds. On fine weather days, a waterfront square animated by restaurants embraces the views of the iconic Elizabeth Castle.
In contrast, the Residential Quarter forms a quieter, tranquil part of the development, comprising residential plots with access to lushly planted, shared courtyard gardens and rooftop gardens. An intimate public lane that runs north to south softens the boundaries of public and private. Small cafés and retail units anchor the corners of the lane, and suspended artwork contribute to the buzz of day to day life.
In the Leisure Quarter, the existing AquaSplash site has been reimagined to form a gateway to the Waterfront. AquaSplash is replaced by a landmark piece of leisure architecture comprising community facilities including an indoor swimming pool, gym and 'Kids Zone' facilities. Residents above the leisure facility take advantage of the south-facing aspect and views down to the refurbished Marina Gardens.
The junction of the Esplanade & La Route de la Libération will facilitate an elegant Gateway building 'bookending' the entrance' to St Helier with community and arts uses on the ground floor and residential propose above. The building offers residents' breath-taking views across the Waterfront and towards Fort Regent, a 19th-century fortification overlooking St Helier Marina. This signature plot will create a focal point and sense of arrival to St Helier.
The Commercial Quarter includes two new 6-storey high-quality office plots that will complement the character of the International Finance Centre. Both plots include ground-floor art, culture and community space fronting the new Esplanade Square.
Over half of the site area is designated as public realm providing a broad spectrum of recreational and social spaces for the new and existing Jersey community. These include a rich variety of park and urban spaces:
- Les Jardins De La Mer Waterfront Park – Les Jardins De La Mer is a waterfront park offering 3200m² of generous lawn space, supporting the active Jersey community in hosting events such as the triathlon. A new play hub, outdoor lido and series of sports courts provide the public with new amenities. Two park pavilions will be architectural jewels within the park and feature a new Elizabeth Castle ticket office, cafés, public toilets and changing facilities. A heritage-listed German casemate is refurbished, and the original structure revealed by removing poor quality architectural additions. The reimagined Casemate encourages the public to interact with the structure and connect with the site's history. The park offers a broad spectrum of places to inhabit and sit, sheltered by coastal planting and trees.
- Waterfront Promenade – a 240-metre-long existing promenade connecting to the towns Marinas is enhanced and provides the perfect route for pedestrians, runners and cyclists.
- Waterfront Square – situated in the Mixed-Use zone, the Waterfront Square is a multi-functional square overlooking the sea, with groves of trees, alfresco dining and an interactive water feature that animates the space. The Square offers opportunities for good weather events and pop-up markets, as well as a space to experience the elements.
- Central Square and the Esplanade Square - positioned on opposite sides of La Route de La Libération in the cultural precinct, Central Square and Esplanade Square will offer a sheltered destination on windy days. The Central Square provides a flexible space for community and cultural events and features an Art House Cinema and access to the public cycle hub offering bike storage, changing facilities and repair services.
- Pocket Square - an important focal point along the Lane and Rue de L'etau. The Square offers an intimate spill-out area away from the prevailing winds and adjacent roads. Benefiting from good late morning to afternoon sun, this 660m² square is the perfect place for local residents to have lunch or grab a coffee.
- Marina Gardens – this sun-drenched park responds to the adjacent leisure uses and offers an outdoor extension of the gym and fitness studios in good weather. The park features a large central circular lawn space surrounded by play pods, social space and a new Pavilion with café and toilet facilities.
Image: Les Jardins De La Mer Waterfront Park by Gillespies © Jersey Development Company
Commenting on the proposals, Stephen Richards, Partner at Gillespies, said:
We are extremely proud of our involvement in setting the Framework for St Helier's Waterfront and feel passionately about the positive transformation it could bring to the island. Our client, the JDC, recognised early on how critical it was that the project should be landscape-led. We believe this approach, which places the quality and extent of the open spaces and connections first, was by far the best means to embed this extensive proposal into St Helier. We have greatly enjoyed working with the various communities of Jersey, our client and consultants to ensure this place will deliver climate resilience and make a meaningful contribution to island life.
Commenting on the submitted plans, JDC’s CEO Lee Henry said: “These ambitious proposals are an important step forward for the island and St Helier’s Waterfront. We sought consultation from all areas of the community over a ten-month period and we were very encouraged by the level and quality of the feedback received. We have ensured that these submitted plans responded to the public’s views.
This landscape-led Visionary Framework also understands the importance of Jersey’s unique character and identity and will provide the island with a Waterfront that is a destination, and a local sustainability exemplar that has been influenced by today’s islanders, for future generations to come”.