The Construction Industry is probably the most visible barometer of what is happening to the island’s economy. Think of places like Dubai or London with their crane-filled skyline and it is obvious that things are going well. Chamber’s Construction Industry Group is at the heart of all-things-built here
There are plenty of business people in the Construction Sector who would dearly love to see a raft of major projects getting underway here but legal challenges, political decisions and planning requirements all have to line up before the practical work can get started.
With talk (for 10 years!) of harbour redevelopment, an ongoing debate around new schools and continuing discussion over major developments around St Sampson’s, coupled with a need for more housing, Chamber’s Construction Group is highly aware of the potential for change.
Led by Tim Guilbert, the working party is hoping to add to its numbers by incorporating some of the island’s professional build-sector bodies to ensure that Chamber is a single point of contact for the industry. This would enable strong consultation with various States departments, coupled with an ability to highlight and lobby for change that could benefit the whole community. It would also be a focal point for consultation on any proposed legal changes or amendments that might influence the sector and the island more broadly.
The Construction Industry Group, in its planned new larger format, would be well placed to assist with insight into problems around land use and planning. Its members are also able to advise on latest build methods, many of which are ideal for our small island in terms of cost and energy efficiency.
‘I am particularly passionate about the need to make it easier to use affordable housing methods here. There are some fantastic options available to us but it is a challenge to bring them to public attention and for the States in general to be well informed about the opportunities out there,’ said Tim.
He works pan-island and is conscious of the different approaches between the jurisdictions, with a ‘can-do’ attitude very evident in our sister island. ‘There are some fantastic projects in the pipeline here and developments are going ahead – such as new apartment block builds and the new hotel – but we need to be bolder,’ he said.
The benefits to the economy of a thriving construction sector are enormous. ‘It is definitely the most visible way of gauging how a place is doing because building tends to happen only when there is confidence in the future. The interesting thing here is that we are not being constrained by lack of finance, it’s more an overly long process to actually sign off on things, which can be frustrating.’
The Industry Group will look at all aspects of the sector including staff recruitment, availability of land for industry and the payment and tendering processes around large projects.
‘People tend to think “concrete blocks and cranes” when you ask them what construction means to them but it is a complex, multi million pound industry which is essential to the success and life quality of our community and there are many elements to it that require close study,’ Tim added.
He is pleased that the sector has recently made available a recommended contract of work for islanders planning on employing anyone for building work. It is available at low cost and provides a practical template for elements to consider and agree, in writing, before any project gets underway.
The Chamber Construction Industry Group welcomes any input or involvement from those in the sector. Email office@guernseychamber for contact details or see the Chamber website.