Alleviating housing demand by building taller, removing parking requirements and making it easier to develop historic properties, retaining the dual role of the Bailiff, and deciding on a national anthem are among the policies the Jersey Alliance Party are hoping will capture the public’s imagination in the election.
The ideas are set out in two key policy papers released today by the party on the issues of housing and island identity.
Drafted up by Party Policy Director Sir Mark Boleat, they’re the first of many due to be published over the coming weeks.
He said the Alliance's view for Jersey was "neither new nor radical, but rather reflects the proud history of Jersey, what the people of Jersey have said in various surveys, significant desk research and consultation with people and organisations.”
Pictured: The party's ambition is to enable Andium Homes to develop 3,00 to 5,000 homes by 2030.
Here, Express picks out the key policy points…
The party identifies the housing problem in Jersey as being “one of affordability” as “supply has not increased to match demand."
Their overall ambition is to therefore to “take the necessary steps on planning and land release” to enable Andium Homes to develop 3,000 to 5,000 homes by 2030.
To this end, the party would also remove constraints on the Jersey Development Company requiring pre-contracts before it can commence construction.
While Andium currently runs a first-time buyer scheme, the policy paper notes that this is limited to Andium’s own housing stock.
“There seems no reason why the scheme cannot be extended to units purchased on the open market.”
The party acknowledges that “one method of constraining demand is to reduce economic activity”, but notes that this “has a consequential effect on living standards.”
Pictured: The party note that the only option to ensure demand is contained is by "strict enforcement of population policies" so only people who are residentially qualified or make a beneficial contribution can buy or rent.
It adds: “Taxing capital gains or levying a tax on the rise in the value of owner-occupied housing would certainly constrain prices but would be deeply unpopular with Jersey people many of whom have already suffered by having to pay high prices.”
Noting that, “if there was a magic bullet it would have been found a long time ago”, the party therefore says the only option is to ensure demand is “constrained by strict enforcement of population policies so only people who are residentially qualified or who make a demonstrable beneficial contribution to the island are able to buy or rent housing.”
Describing current rules around building heights as “outdated, the party says “higher densities” should be allowed in “appropriate areas”.
“Here an obstacle is that the current planning requirement that developments higher than six stories must be of particular architectural merit. Height restrictions can be eased where there would be no significant adverse effect on views.”
The party says so-called ‘modern methods of construction’ - sometimes referred to as ‘flatpack homes’ - should be embraced to help bring down costs.
The party says the “provision of parking has got out of hand” in Jersey, noting that Andium has 300 more parking spaces for its tenants than required.
Pictured: The party suggest reducing parking.
It therefore suggests “reducing the parking provision in new developments following necessary changes to transport policy, including an enhanced bus service and extension of shared car schemes.”
The party says the policy on listing buildings should be applied “in a more sensible way.
“Decisions that involve listed buildings must take full account of the need for housing. The cost of any requirements for preservation of listed building should be explicit.”
It adds: “Enabling small scale residential conversion, so that existing homes to be repurposed to better suit the needs of their occupants and create additional supply of housing. Requirements for listed buildings similarly need to be implemented in a way that does not inhibit renovation and increasing the supply. There is for example a potential conflict between a heritage requirement which prevents double glazing and housing and climate change objectives.”
Any regulation of the private rented sector “does nothing to address the key problem in Jersey of inadequate supply”, according to Jersey Alliance, "but rather provides protection, albeit limited, to those already housed.”
“By far, the best protection for tenants is a functioning market in which supply matches demand and both new and existing tenants have a choice, so there should be an overriding objective of encouraging those with properties they do not occupy to make them available for rent.”
It also says that a property register, which has already been agreed in principle by States Members, should be implemented.
In recognition of the Planning Department’s “resource constraints”, the party says some work could be outsourced “by using appropriately qualified professionals.”
The party says it’s vision for the island is one of a “vibrant, self-confident community”, with high-quality education and healthcare systems, which recognises and celebrates its heritage.
Alliance does not think that Jersey should seek to sever its ties from the UK by becoming an independent nation - an idea floated around the time of Brexit discussions.
“The island's status as a nation with allegiance to the British Crown has served the Island well for over 800 years and the constitutional arrangements between the British Government and the Jersey Government are effective because of the similarity of interests. Jersey is proud of being British and part of the British Isles while not being part of the United Kingdom. The Island flies the Union Jack alongside the Jersey flag on appropriate days. Some may be tempted by the thought of Jersey becoming an independent nation but that would risk both the Island’s economy and indeed its heritage.”
While the role of the Bailiff has been repeatedly challenged over the years - including by international observers who have criticised the lack of separation of powers - Alliance maintains that the role is a key part of Jersey’s identity.
“If one was writing a constitution for a new nation state one would not have a single person acting as the chief judge and speaker of the parliament, but Jersey has that and, like the role of parishes, it is longstanding, an integral part of the Island and should not be changed.”
The party is also keen to protect the role of Constable.
“The voluntary system and the role of Connétables, including sitting as States Assembly members, is an inherent part of the Jersey character and should be preserved. The new electoral system is based on the parishes, although many will regret the multi-parish constituencies. This makes the role of Connétables even more important as they have the primary role of representing the interests of their parishes in the Assembly.”
Alliance says that “not nearly enough is done to protect and promote” the island’s “distinct identity” and suggests creating a dedicated website for material on the island, and commissioning a series of “Jersey-flavoured books for young children”.
Pictured: The "neither new nor radical" vision was drafted up by Party Policy Director Sir Mark Boleat.
It also wants to see more Jersey-specific teaching on the curriculum, and suggests that a ‘Jersey Studies’ course be created, “aimed particularly at newcomers to the island.”
To better highlight the island’s heritage, Alliance suggests a transformation of the harbour and airport.
“At the Airport the “customer journey” from the arrival gate to the taxi rank, car park or bus stop is dominated by advertisements by law firms and financial service businesses. The arrivals hall is barren with nothing to interest passengers other than financial service advertisements. The Airport should be transformed with more display material about Jersey and enlivening the baggage hall with videos and displays from Jersey Heritage.”
It also wants a new series of heritage plaques to be created, following the idea of England’s ‘Blue Plaques’ scheme.
A nation must have an agreed national anthem, according to the party.
“Island Home, Beautiful Jersey and Ma Normandie are all used. This issue should be settled though a properly structured public consultation.”
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