Jersey’s Fort Regent
‘Our Fort’ is one of Jersey’s most iconic landmarks, and sits proudly above St.Helier. The construction of the fortress that we see today began during the Napoleonic Wars with the foundation stone being laid by the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, George Don in 1806. Fort Regent was used as a garrison until 1940, and after use by the occupying German Forces was then used as a store.
In 1967 The States decided to redevelop the site into a leisure centre with a new swimming pool. It was initially opened in 1971 before the rest of the Fort was developed into the structure we essentially see today. There has been a need to consider either extensive maintenance or refurbishment of the whole site since the late 1990’s but successive governments have failed to grasp the nettle and commit to finding a long term future for the Fort.
The decision to demolish the swimming pool was made during the previous government’s term and, although the work is now complete, under the present government there has been no progress in redeveloping the Fort. The Progress Party believe must this inaction must change as a matter of urgency.
We know that, after years of talk, countless reviews and consultation and the abject failure of the current government to make a decision, Islanders are hugely frustrated. We are now at a point where we are being told that Fort Regent must imminently close, and this without any formulated plan for it’s future or the necessary funding to deliver a solution.
The Progress Party will provide the drive and ambition required to deliver a long term future for Fort Regent based around three key principles:-
a. that the redevelopment of Fort Regent needs to be phased over two political terms,
b. that there is a long term future for sport at Fort Regent ,
c. that future funding requirements must consider a closer working relationship with the private sector.
These principles will ensure that work is started early in the next term of government and that momentum is maintained throughout the duration of the project.
Progress Party plan for Fort Regent
The Progress Party is deeply concerned that if Fort Regent was to be completely closed then any future government may, because of several reasons including cost, decide to either delay any redevelopment or even worse, not bother.
Delay, or doing nothing, is not an option. Islanders are not going to accept any more dithering and want to see action.
The Progress Party plan for Phase One during the next political term is as follows.
The Progress Party will work towards providing direct lift access from Snow Hill carpark to the North Outworks (Redoubts) within 24 months of the next election. This work would also include covered walkways to the North Outworks that overlook St. Helier and across to the main structure of Fort Regent.
The Progress Party support developing this area (also formerly the site of the mini golf course) into a café/restaurant, events area, pétanque terrain and childrens play area. These facilities could be enjoyed by all islanders, but easily accessed by those working in town during the week. This is a sadly underused but part of Fort Regent but we see this initial development as the key to connecting St.Helier to Fort Regent. We see this work being completed at the same time as the opening of the lifts.
North / East Ditch
We want to see this area developed into a part covered urban sports/ skatepark to not only serve the young people of St.Helier but attract families and residents from all over the island to the first part of a refurbished Fort Regent. This area will provide year round access for users, and also be the first part of our vision to retain sport at Fort Regent.
Gardens / Viewing Points
The Progress Party will support the reinstatement of viewing points currently closed off and improvements. We will renovate all the many garden areas throughout the Fort site.
Main Leisure Centre Building
The Progress Party is clear that the redevelopment of Fort Regent needs to be carried out in phases to both keep the Fort open to the public and maintain momentum in the project. We are proposing that in the life of the next government that redevelopment within the main building is focused in the area that is currently the gym area and the Gloucester Hall. Before considering our vision for these areas we must deal with the aluminium/glass roof that covers the gym area, and also the vertical aluminium glazing that desperately needs replacing. We propose closing this part of the Fort so that the roof and vertical glazing panels can be replaced. Whilst this work is carried out the internal fabric can be stripped back prior to any refit. But what next ?
North / Parade Ground
We will support working alongside the private sector in developing the north part of the building into a new “state of the art” ten pin bowling centre. The Progress Party has used the example of the innovative redevelopment of King’s Bastion in Gibralter (a coastal fort that was part of Gibralters defences until repurposed as a power station in 1961, and then into a leisure centre in 2008) when considering future uses for Fort Regent. We believe this option provides a facility that, with better access, offers young people and families a great opportunity to bowl whilst the ability to access other nearby refurbished areas at the Fort. There is an opportunity to create two tiers within this area so that other sports users could be accommodated. We also believe that the rooms and tunnels that surround the open space should be retained for sports use. The Progress Party will deliver on this area by 2025.
The Progress Party support the refurbishment of the Gloucester Hall into a modern, fit for purpose, events venue that will be used for major concerts of all types and for one off sporting events. The hall will require good acoustics, noise and vibration control and be expected to have excellent ventilation and heating, all of which the current Gloucester Hall falls short of. The auditorium will require flexible and easy to assemble seating and be capable of accommodating different size audiences. Good design will be the key but The Progress Party support a refurbished Gloucester Hall being delivered by June 2026 as a key part of delivering modern facilities for Jerseys arts and culture sector and as a support to delivering live entertainment to islanders.
The Progress Party will provide funding alternatives and further details for their long term vision for Fort Regent with their election manifesto.