Building homes on green fields is “done” and the island now has to look at taller buildings to accommodate its rising population, the Environment Minister has said.
Deputy John Young made the comments as he closed the two-week debate on the mammoth ‘Bridging Island Plan’, which was approved unanimously by States Members yesterday.
It will form a blueprint for development in Jersey over the next three years.
Among the key elements of the approved plan were:
A building target of more than 4,000 new homes - 375 on rezoned fields, 225 fewer than States Members had originally hoped.
Policies to allow taller buildings.
Development of ‘masterplans for Les Quennevais and Five Oaks.
A new level of protection for coastal areas.
Safeguarding the former Gas Works site for a new primary school.
Allowing a sand quarry in St. Ouen to keep running.
Rezoning of a field near Haute Vallée School in St. Helier for disabled accommodation and another in St. Martin for elderly parishioners.
Rounding up the last fortnight of “excellent contributions” from States Members ahead of the final vote, Deputy Young said that the clear message is that no one wanted to build on any more fields, agriculture needed more support and there was an appetite for taller buildings, providing there was adequate amenity and open space between them.
He also urged the next Government to deal with the "giant" in the room: coming up with a sustainable population policy.
“We just have to crack this one and I think the States have to recognise that they have to find pragmatic solution,” he said. “We cannot keep using land - what we have done is it, as far as I am concerned.”
Pictured: One of the key decisions made was safeguarding the former Gas Works site for a new school.
He also called for a new planning law, which would put far more emphasis on the environment.
He added that the island needed to start planning now for the importation of building aggregates as there was only limited on-island reserves left, and Thursday’s debate on La Gigoulande had illustrated that Members did not want to see agricultural fields lost to quarrying.
Ending the debate on the three-year plan – which was passed unanimously on Friday afternoon after facing more than 100 amendments and even more amendments of amendments – the Minister conceded that the Island Plan process was not perfect and would need to be reformed.
Neither was the plan perfect, he said, but it was “the best plan we can achieve”.
After the vote, Deputy Young said: “I would like to thank States Members for their support for this Bridging Island Plan, and also thank them for the robust challenge and the well-considered amendments.
“The debate was of a very high quality, with valuable contributions from Members.”
Pictured: Deputy Young said that the States had to face the "giant in the room" and come up with a sustainable population policy.
He added: “In terms of housing, the plan provides a level of supply that can meet the anticipated demand over the next three years, including a significant number of affordable homes on rezoned sites, affordable homes on States-owned land, including the provision for assisted-purchase housing, and a mechanism to deliver a proportion of assisted-purchase housing on large scale residential schemes from next year.
“It’s a plan that delivers better protection for the Island’s best landscapes and seascapes, through the creation of the protected coastal area and firm policy to protect Jersey’s historic environment.
“Much has changed since the previous plan was established in 2011, and this new framework for the next three years will, overall, facilitate Jersey’s positive future growth, while ensuring we can deliver sustainable development.
“The review process over the past few years has been extensive and the draft policies independently reviewed by the inspectors, whom I also wish to thank.
“I’m hugely grateful to the policy officers who have worked around the clock to ensure we reached this point today, complying with the legislative requirements of this process and ensuring we have a document in place to provide planners with a clear framework to protect our Island’s great character, while at the same time allowing it to flourish and develop in the best ways for Jersey.
“Finally, I wish to thank the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff and the States Greffe for their support throughout the debates.”
The plan came into force as soon as it was passed on Friday, meaning that it will be the template against which the Our Hospital application will be judged during a public inquiry which begins a week on Monday.
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