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122 Gas Works Homes Rejected Over Archaeology Concerns

A 3D visual of the revised and now rejected plans to build 122 new homes on the old Gas Works site.

Andium Homes' revised application for 122 homes on the old Gas Works site have been rejected following concern about archaeological damage to the area.

The central third of the site is designated as a Grade One listed place, because there is an ancient burial chamber and megalithic avenue under the road.

The area in green is a grade one listed place, with area to the west an 'area of archaeological interest'.

The cist and avenue were excavated in 1952. The cist was left there, but 15 of the stones were removed and taken to La Hougue Bie museum.

Both archaeological features were considered to be 'prehistoric monuments of outstanding importance to the archaeological heritage of Jersey'.

Andium wanted to build an underground two-storey car park, which raised concerns that it would damage the protected remains.

The planning officer recommended a condition be put in place to allow the project to go ahead - where if any significant remains are found, work would stop and the department would have the final say on the next steps.

However it was rejected by two votes to one.

"For me, the cost in terms of heritage from a Grade I listed… I mean if you can’t protect a Grade I listing, I then question what you can protect.

"As this particularly actually isn’t for housing, this is actually for cars, then no – I find it hard to understand how the department has reached the approval condition on this." - Deputy Kirsten Morel.

"This is a Grade I listed site of exceptional value, as Tracey (Ingle) has pointed out to us, and important to Jersey - and to lose that asset to provide extra parking spaces I’m afraid is something I can’t accept." - Constable Philip Le Sueur.

Speaking against the proposed development, Principle Historic Environment Officer Tracey Ingle said putting in a double basement car park would completely remove archaeological deposits, which are protected under Grade 1 listed status.

Other parts of Jersey protected by that same status include La Cotte, Elizabeth Castle, and Mount Orgueil.

"In heritage terms, I would suggest that this is of outstanding more than island-wide importance as part of our past civilisation.

"I am not persuaded that adding an extra basement car parking in 2021 is a strong enough material consideration to outweigh this."

Outline permission for the development was granted in 2019, and it came back before the Planning Committee so parts of the plan could be adjusted.

The revised plan included a double-basement car park under the western block, which would go under the town park, instead of a single-basement car park under both blocks of apartments.

It would have seen the number of spaces increase from 272 to 314.

Since outline permission was granted, work has started on site which has included demolishing the gas holder.

Andium Homes has responded to the decision:

“We are obviously disappointed that the application was refused despite being recommended for approval by officers.

Our plans to develop the site have been prepared in order to align with the requirements set by the States in 2017 (P.114/2017).

When we acquired the site we felt that a smaller development would be more appropriate and would give a unique opportunity to provide a 50% increase in the area of the Millennium Town Park and deliver other benefits which contribute to the North of Town Regeneration.

The 2017 States decision required that we also provide 150-200 spaces of public car parking.  This has to go beneath the site.  It also required that we pay for the entire project, including site acquisition and the car park without any money from the tax payer."

Andium says it has to develop schemes that are financially viable, and the single storey underground car park, which has had permission for under a previous application was 'not viable' because of the town brook and major public sewer that runs through the site at that level.

"This new application reduced the area of the site used for car park but put the car park at 2 levels, this is necessary to get the numbers of spaces to comply with the States decision."

The housing provider says it is 'reflecting' on the decision and the Board will need to make a decision about the future of the site, which could be to sell it on to a commercial developer 'who most likely will deliver the 253 home scheme' which a previous owner already had permission for.

Andium says it has already had interest, and it would be able to recoup its costs to date.  It paid £10m for the site.

It could also choose to appeal the decision. 

"No matter what happens it’s a delay in delivering much needed homes and what we felt were important community gains; The park extension, the public car parking, the safe pedestrian route from the schools up on Wellington Hill, through our site, the Park and on to the Library are all now lost.

The scheme would also have put vital development work into the local industry, helping to keep our economy strong.” - Carl Mavity, Andium Homes.

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