31 October 2016
Plans for capital investment in Jersey’s capacity to store crucial historic records have been submitted by Jersey Property Holdings on behalf of the Department for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture (EDTSC).
A planning application for a £3.5 million extension to the Island’s national repository, Jersey Archive, would see the current award-winning building’s capacity double in size and provide storage for key paper and digital records for approximately 25 years.
Funding for the project was included in the Medium Term Financial Plan Addition capital programme, recently approved by the States. Bringing forward construction of the extension is also in line with a recent Fiscal Policy Panel recommendation to provide stimulus to the economy through timely capital investment in Jersey’s infrastructure.
Jersey Archive is managed by Jersey Heritage, for which EDTSC has political oversight, as part of its responsibility for culture in Jersey. The EDTSC Assistant Minister with responsibility for culture, Deputy Murray Norton, said “This is crucial and timely investment in Jersey Archive, where the existing storage capacity is forecast to be exhausted by mid-2019. Records management is a statutory responsibility for good reason – these documents will provide material for future historians to interpret how we lived, loved and died, and the important legal and financial decisions our society made in the course of that journey.”
The introduction of the Freedom of Information Law in Jersey has meant that a significant number of States records have been passed to Jersey Heritage for archiving in recent years.
There should, in time, be a decline in paper documents and an increase in the transfer of digital records, according to the Archives and Collections Director Linda Romeril, but in the meantime, Jersey Heritage needs to ensure the service has the capacity to cope in the medium to long term.
“Archives are a unique irreplaceable record, telling the stories of the people, places and development of Jersey. The Jersey Archive currently holds over 600 years of recorded history and this extension will allow us to continue to collect the official, community and personal records of the Island for many years to come.”
If the plans are approved, the construction project will be overseen by BDK Architects and Metropolitan Workshop. They were responsible for the original archive (on the site of the old Clarence Court housing estate), which received a national design award. The extension will be similarly innovative, making use of the most up-to-date build materials to make it sustainable and to generate enough power from its photovoltaic roof to feed back into the building.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Eddie Noel, said “I am pleased to see these plans developed, and for the department to work with Jersey Heritage and Jersey Archive to move forward on a project that will provide another opportunity for local building contractors and suppliers.”
Work is expected to start in 2017 and requires specialist construction techniques to ensure the new building is completely moisture-free, and suitable for records storage in line with UK national archive standards. This will involve a six-to-nine month ‘drying out’ period during construction, before it will be ready for occupation in 2019.