On Air Now Overnight Midnight - 6:00am
Now Playing Taylor Swift Love Story (Taylor's Version)

Bridging Island Plan Approved

Despite some concerns that it doesn't go far enough, the plan on what to build and where in Jersey by the end of 2025 has been rubberstamped by the States Assembly.

States members have spent the last ten days debating the Bridging Island Plan.

The Deputy Bailiff says it was the longest States debate in more than ten years.

The plan normally runs for ten years, but this one has been shortened because of long-term uncertainty caused by the pandemic and Brexit.

The debate was dominated by talk of where to build new homes.

A target of 4,300 was set, with 1,650 defined as 'affordable' for rent and purchase.

It was estimated that around 600 affordable homes would be built on rezoned land.

However, that target was later revised down to 375 after politicians voted to protect some fields that were earmarked for development.

A few green fields were added to the plan by backbenchers.

With regard to housing, politicians also agreed to:

An attempt to build affordable homes in place of derelict or redundant glasshouses failed.

States members also agreed to:

Some other topics were also the subject of heated debates across the ten days.

The first topic discussed was to create a Marine Park in 30% of Jersey waters.

That was rejected, which led to the Blue Marine Foundation accusing the States Assembly of 'opting for compromise and bureaucratic mediocrity'.

Deputy Rob Ward says that could be a missed opportunity.

"I do say that we will regret that in the coming years and we need to go away and think carefully about that and the way in which we can bring that forward.

I think that debate became confused with the current situation with fishing and relations and perhaps is a victim of Brexit that so much else has been."

Sand reserves can continue to be extracted in St Ouens Bay, but only within the current site.

One of the final topics of debate was the Environment Minister's bid to extend La Gigoulande Quarry.

That received more than 200 formal objections from islanders and visitors and was convincingly defeated.

The draft plan was first published in April 2021 - you can read more on what is planned for the next three years here.

Many States members used their final speeches to argue that the plan doesn't go far enough in dealing with the island's housing crisis.

Deputy Steve Luce says the next one needs to include more data.

"How did we ever start this (States) sitting without two vital pieces of data?

The lack of the census results and the absence of the St Helier education survey are not just unfortunate mistakes, they're unforgiveable emissions.

Why did we allow this to happen?"

Statistics Jersey tweeted earlier this month to say other work commitments, which have been impacted by Covid-19, has impacted the Census timeline.

The Chief Minister has repeatedly defended the lack of census results, saying the government recognises the absolute independence of Statistics Jersey, which means they can't control the release of that important data.

Deputy Inna Gardiner says this is a better plan than what they have now, but it doesn't go far enough on sustainability and the environment.

Plans to build homes on green fields in Grouville were rejected after a group of parishioners voiced their concerns in a parish assembly before the debate started.

Parish Constable John Le Maistre says the last-minute challenges brought forward to the plan didn't give enough time for proper scrutiny and discussion.

"I wondered if all of the fields in Grouville had been passed, sadly none of them have, I think that (would have been) around 200 homes and how many children of primary school age would there be living in those homes? I have no idea, but probably 30 or 40.

The Parish Assembly was overwhelmingly opposed to any development on greenfield sites in the parish and that was a bit disappointing.

Deputy (Judy) Martin pointed out that well, all the people there (is it) a fair representation? They've probably got their own homes, comfortable, affluent, wealthy, I'm not sure what term one would like to use.

Many of them said to me afterwards, oh yes we do need some fields, we do understand that, just not these fields and maybe we didn't consult enough with the parish. I should have got them more involved because I actually think some of these fields were the least worst fields to be putting forward.

The average age of the parish assembly, I'm not sure, but it won't be less than 60 and probably approaching 70 and there were no young people that I was trying to find a site for, there.

There was a couple of youngish people in their mid-30s, but very few young people and it was very disappointing."

Assistant Environment Minister Deputy Gregory Guida says the next plan should try as much as possible not to revisit what has been decided in this plan and Deputy Lindsay Ash says islanders should 'move away from knocking Jersey' after referencing the controversy surrounding P&O Ferries.

Deputy Kirsten Morel, as he did during the debate on designating Warwick Farm as a St Helier Country Park, raised concerns about what he calls 'a lack of employment land' in the plan.

"I think, as an assembly, we are in danger of forgetting that without a high-performing economy, we cannot afford many services, we cannot afford many protections, we cannot afford many facilities, so we do need to keep our eye on making it possible to enable and facilitate business in this island (as) without it we have very little.

When you build on a greenfield site, that greenfield is lost forever, so the idea that there are alternatives which have not been looked at properly is the sticking point and it's the bit that we need to have satisfied in this chamber before we can really say yes, you know what, we have to go to greenfield sites (as) that is the only place.

I think every States member can think of a site in their heads that they know is an unused area of property in Jersey that is not being exploited properly or used efficiently."

Senator Sam Mézec wanted all homes on States or States-owned companies' land to be used for affordable homes.

He said it would ensure the government makes the best use of its land to address the housing crisis, rather than provide open market homes for investment opportunities.

That was rejected.

Senator Mézec says the Bridging Island Plan is a plan of missed opportunities that sells the island short and doesn't provide a good enough framework to meet the needs of the island.

Meanwhile, Constable Deidre Mezbourian says there aren't enough affordable homes being built on States-owned land.

"We agreed that 15% was acceptable. 15% was too low for me, I mentioned to Senator Mézec that his 100% was too much.

To me, it wasn't viable and I regret that I didn't bring something to propose maybe 50% which would have been, I think, far more acceptable than the 15%."

In concluding the debate, Environment Minister Deputy John Young described the plan as not perfect, but a really good one.

"No plan is perfect, but I believe it's the best plan we can achieve and most significant for me I think, I really believe after two weeks debate and the amendments that members have brought which have added real value to it, improved it, and members amendments that have taken away some parts that members have made democratic decisions and things they've added to it.

I think we've ended up with a really good plan. I think it's the members' plan because I've always said the final decisions in the planning process are here (in the States Chamber). As Minister, my job is to bring forward and organise the process and put forward recommendations, but in the end, there are choices and there are no ways in any land use issues that you can avoid choices."

The Bridging Island Plan was approved unanimously.

More from Jersey News

Channel 103 VIP

Become a Channel 103 VIP!