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Independent scrutiny for Esplanade Quarter developer

18 November 2008

The Treasury Minister has announced that the decision over whether to appoint Harcourt as the developer of the Esplanade Quarter site will be put to the States for a final decision only after an exhaustive investigation and scrutiny process to ensure the contract is right for Jersey .

The Minister has issued an assurance that everything possible will be done to ensure that the chosen developer for the site meets all the necessary financial and contractual conditions to develop the site successfully.

Senator Terry Le Sueur has also emphasised that the architect’s plans for the site are an entirely separate matter for the Planning Department to determine and at no stage will they form part of this process.

The Minister has put in place a comprehensive and detailed process, to be overseen by the Chief Executive to the Council of Ministers, and reviewed by an independent advisory panel, that will be carried out to inform a final decision on the chosen developer.

In the first instance, the Minister has commissioned a wide-ranging financial and contractual investigation, including an appraisal of the proposed development agreement by City legal firm, Trowers & Hamlins, to provide an assurance, that firstly it is a good deal and secondly the contract conditions are sufficiently tight to ensure successful delivery of the project.  He will also review advice received by WEB from PriceWaterhouseCoopers on the financial standing of Harcourt, and legal advice received by WEB in respect of current ongoing litigation.  The Treasury Minister will then consider whether, provided all of the necessary safeguards are in place, it is a good deal. If so he will ask the Waterfront Enterprise Board to secure the necessary safeguards and Guarantees.

At that stage the Waterfront Enterprise Board has agreed that it will negotiate with Harcourt to secure any improvements to the deal. Once that is concluded to the Board’s satisfaction they would recommend to the Minister whether Harcourt should become the final developer.

Every step of the process will be scrutinised by the independent Esplanade Quarter Review Panel, made up of Senator Jim Perchard, Deputy Sarah Ferguson and Deputy Ian Gorst, to ensure that Jersey’s best interests are paramount in the eventual outcome.

Only if the Treasury and Resources Minister decides that the final deal is acceptable and that all the necessary conditions have been met, will he present a report to the States for the Assembly to decide whether to proceed.

Senator Le Sueur said: “I am determined that the Esplanade Quarter development will only go ahead if we can deliver a world-class scheme which provides a good return to the taxpayer. Furthermore I will not make any final decisions without seeking the States' endorsement.”

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