Residents are fighting against development on more fields in St. Clement which they say have been dropped into the Island Plan process - again - with no consultation.
Parishioners living in Le Pont Clos, off Pontorson Lane, have written to Environment Minister John Young to voice their objections to the building of up to 61 homes in two fields to the west of their estate and which are accessed through it.
The two fields – C127 and C128 – were proposed by their owners for development as part of the process forming the Bridging Island Plan, which will become the blueprint for building over the next three years.
The owners say the fields are suitable for the building of much-needed affordable homes.
However, the residents, representing nine households, say they are “saddened and distressed” that the site is being considered for development.
CLICK TO ENLARGE: The two fields are to the west of Pontorson Lane in St. Clement.
In their letter, they express “severe concern” over the extra traffic that would be created in their close and Pontorson Lane. They also say there are problems with visibility at both ends of the land and that the estate road is too narrow.
The letter adds: “More broadly in relation to the parish, as widely evidenced, there has been a severe over-development of St. Clement and there is a real lack of rural green land as widely contested and publicised by the local media.”
Pictured: The two fields form the green square around the flag. (Credit: Google Maps).
One of the residents, Toby Rankin, also criticised the Island Plan process. He said that he only became aware of the proposal to build on the fields because of a chance conversation and there had been no public consultation.
The two fields had initially been proposed for affordable homes by their owners when Deputy Young asked for potential sites in December 2019.
However, they were not among the 11 sites chosen by the minister, which featured in the draft plan, which was published in April.
Then in September, after the initial ten-week public consultation that followed the draft plan’s release, 11 more sites – dubbed the minister’s ‘Plan B’ list - were included in his 900-page response to the thousands of comments, objections, proposals and amendments that the public and politicians made.
Deputy Young asked independent planning inspectors to assess the merits of these Plan B sites. Among them are three fields in St. Clement – C102, C104 and C105 - which parishioners and officials say they will fight development on.
However, in addition to this Plan B list, a third, even longer, list of potential sites has since emerged.
This is because Island Plan process allows landowners to make another representation, this time directly to the independent inspectors who are currently reviewing the plan as part of its ‘examination in public’ phase.
61 sites are now being assessed by the inspectors.
Fields C127 and C128 combine to form one of these extra sites. Their merits were discussed at a public hearing before the inspectors last week.
There, the owner of C128, Robin Troy, explained why he felt it was suitable for development.
“In relation to access, Pontorson Lane is a much less used road than Rue de Samarès,” he said.
“I have lived on it twice in my life, once as a teenager and once later with a young family, and I have always considered that it wasn’t particularly dangerous or congested and it has had traffic-calming measures applied to it since, and there are new pathways and cycle ways adjacent to it and down the common through to behind the parish hall and the sea.
Pictured: Le Pont Close is off Pontorson Lane, which links the St. Clement Inner Road with the Coast Road.
“It is, in my view, a wonderful area for young families to live in. It has a primary school and secondary school near it and within safe walking distance for children.”
He added that the fields were not farmed and had been assessed as being of poor agricultural quality by the Jersey Farmers’ Union.
The co-owner of C127, Peter Thomson, said the fields had only been rejected by the minister because he wanted to spread development around the island; however, Mr Thomson said this argument had been rendered “null and void” because of the addition of C102, C104 and C105 to the Plan B list, which were just 300m away.
The hearing also heard that the fields would support 46 three-bed houses or 61 two-bed houses, or a combination of both, and the Troy family own the access road through the estate.
A claim made by an architect working for one of the owners at the hearing that no one living in Le Pont Close objected to the development of C127 and C128 was challenged in a separate letter by the residents.
Nick Socrates of Socrates Architects later apologised for any confusion, saying that his comment had been made in good faith.
“We regret that our spontaneous comment gave the impression of overstating the situation - this was not our intention,” he said.
The independent inspectors have now been made aware that not all Le Pont Clos residents support building in the fields.
The Environment Minister is maintaining his opposition to development in C127 and C128, citing access problems, while acknowledging that they are not farmed.
The parish is also against the rezoning, arguing that St. Clement is already over-developed, and its schools are full.
Pictured: The owners of fields C127 and C128 made representations to planning inspectors last week.
The independent inspectors will make their recommendations to the minister in a report, due to be published early next year.
The two fields in St Clement - along with the other 60 sites submitted to the inspectors - can only be rezoned if a States Member lodges an amendment to the Bridging Island Plan, which is then approved by the Assembly when the plan is debated in March.
Pictured: Most residents in Le Pont Clos are against building on two next-door fields.
It is not the first time that concerns have been raised about the lack of consultation over the Bridging Island Plan. Last week, a number of politicians and planning consultants told the inspectors that the minister's proposal to expand the Coastal National Park by 30% had not involved enough public consultation.
The Government, however, say that it has followed the process set out in the Island Plan law and all proposals have been included in published documents.
With regard to C127 and C128, they say their potential development has been in the public domain since April. A specific representation was made as part of the consultation and the minister published his response last month.
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