Dennis Lloyd

Never Mind

Island Plan: More Green Space, Building Out Of Town And A Marine Park?

Providing more green space in town, lifting the ban on building in Green Zones, protecting St Brelade's Bay and creating the largest marine park in Northern Europe are among ideas put forward for the 'bridged' Island Plan.

The Environment Minister has suggested a three year plan until 2024 before a longer-term strategy can be put in place from 2025, because the implications of coronavirus aren't yet known.

Deputy John Young says this allows for progress to be made in certain areas where there is relative certainty, and for policy to be developed and applied in areas where the medium to longer term future is more uncertain.

In a day-long States in-committee debate, Deputy Young asked for input on whether that process is appropriate, where new homes should be built over the next three years, how they can improve people's wellbeing and what the key planning issues are for Jersey's marine, natural and historic environments.

MARINE PARK & PROTECTING AREAS FROM DEVELOPMENT

The Economic Development Minister is pushing for Jersey's new Island Plan to include a marine park.

Senator Lyndon Farnham says it could be 800 or 900 square kilometres of highly-protected area and become one of, if not the, largest protected parks in Northern Europe.

In a plea to the Minister, Senator Farnham asked him to 'acknowledge the great potential it could have', citing the benefits on tourism, marine environment and carbon-neutrality.

"It can also represent a new beginning for Jersey's inshore fishing fleet who'll be able to fish in areas that will not have been trawled and to continue to grow the potential and success of marketing their fish within the island rather than to totally rely on export markets as they've done so successfully during lockdown."

Meanwhile St Lawrence Deputy Kirsten Morel wants more areas within the island to be given the very highest level of protection against development.

"I'll use one (example) in my parish which is St Lawrence Valley, also known as Waterworks Valley, which I believe would be a fantastic site to be protected against pretty much all development and used in a more country park style way.

"We have currently the coastal National Park as Jersey's highest level of protection. I do feel we need to bring that in land as well."

BUILDING ON GREEN ZONE

Town Deputy Geoff Southern has declared that 'St Helier is full'.

It's after several politicians suggested that new housing be built in the island's capital as long as more green space comes with it to make the parish more vibrant and support people's mental health and wellbeing.

However the Reform politician says he isn't convinced of that, particularly as two parks are among sites shortlisted for the island's new hospital.

Deputy Southern says housing should be built elsewhere;

"What we should do is lift that ban on developing in the green zones and make them take their fair share because they're not at the moment.

"The words are 'St Helier is full'. Stop the development.

"Whilst representatives of the northern country parishes and green parishes can talk about 20 homes developed in their parish or 29 bungalows in another parish, we're (St Helier) talking about 280 flats and apartments in a go. That just swamps the contribution of the parishes."

That view was quickly supported by an Assistant Chief Minister and former Environment Minister.

"It's unrealistic from the point of view that St Helier will run out of space and it's unrealistic for the character of St Helier.

"It needs to have its own character and if we just keep destroying them and putting up boxes of flats, in the end we'll just be like any other in the UK.

"St Helier would lose its essence and its character which for me would be a great shame" - Constable Richard Buchanan.

"We really must make a big effort to build these countryside units, these extra units the parishes want to build, we need to make a big effort to build those in places where they're not seen or seen very little.

"We can do a lot more in the countryside. The feeling that would change hardly at all if we think smart and clever about how we do these things." - Deputy Steve Luce.

PROTECTING ST BRELADE'S BAY

A Jersey Senator has asked for a 'definite statement to confirm a long-term development plan' for St Brelade's Bay.

There have been amendments to previous Island Plans to limit what can be built in the area, which is a major tourist attraction for the island.

Senator Sarah Ferguson says a decision is needed to resolve the conflict between being a green back drop zone and a built up area, as it can't be both;

"It is nearly too late and unless we do something now, the bay will lose its friendly and open appeal and it will be full of enormous houses, totally unsuitable for the area and effectively deny access to the beach and the views to locals and visitors alike, with a skyline resembling Monaco."

The chair of the St Brelade's Bay Association has previously called for answers on how the bay will be treated in the new Island Plan, especially amid fears that it was losing its scenic beauty through planning decisions made by politicians who don't live in the area.

Senator Ferguson pressed the Environment Minister on the issue.

"Can we have a definite decision to resolve the conflict between being both a green back drop zone and a built-up area? The Bay cannot be both."

OTHER SUGGESTIONS

"We've got to encourage developers to put space to work on your computer into new developments so that we're not doing it in our bedroom and we're not doing it in our lounge with our families" - Deputy Russell Labey

"We need to bring in conservative area status for areas of the island. It's long overdue." - Deputy Russell Labey

"We should commit to providing more open green space, some of which might involve purchasing sites owned in the private sector" - Senator Sam Mezec, Housing Minister.

"We need to ensure that we preserve the quality of life for people who are already living in those suburban areas and a key way of doing that is ensuring access to green space." - Deputy Louise Doublet

"One of the few ways that we have of driving down the cost of these homes which are so expensive, even if we sell them without profit, is to look at the way we build them." - Deputy Steve Luce

"We can't hold back on those ambitions to build new homes whilst we wait for the more comprehensive plan to kick in after this three-year starting point." - Senator Sam Mezec, Housing Minister.

"The answer to the question that is how many houses do we need to build because we just need to build loads and loads of them, as much as we can." - Deputy Steve Luce

"There should be sufficient development outside of St Helier to sustain our parish communities and the businesses within them." - Constable Richard Vibert

"I agree with preserving our heritage, but to be honest and truthful, not every building needs to be preserved." - Deputy Mike Higgins

"We have to get the balance right of quality of accommodation that we're providing, balancing affordability with livability." - Constable Philip Le Sueur.

The Environment Minister said he was 'blown away' by the debate.

"It has exceeded, by a country mile, what I expected.

"There has been so much content, so much information and it's a big challenge, but it's really good to get this up front so we know what members expectations are at this very early stage and starting point."

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