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Comment: Alternative ways to solve the housing crisis

Comment: Alternative ways to solve the housing crisis

Monday 08 April 2019

Comment: Alternative ways to solve the housing crisis

If you’re not taken by the idea that a bridge to France might be the solution to the island’s housing crisis, then Kevin Keen has a few more, rather alternative, suggestions.

To some, they might sound radical, but the columnist says a little ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking is what’s needed to resolve the ongoing – and worsening – issue.

He shared his thoughts with Express...

A few weeks ago a report from Statistics Jersey identified the need for 2,750 additional homes by 2021 - about the same number of dwellings as St. John and St. Martin combined at the time of the 2011 census. Recently, we have also seen a proposal to develop 65 homes in St. Peter put firmly on the back burner because the development would be in green zone.


Pictured: The Housing Need report.

Even if you can find somewhere to build more homes, they are so expensive - the average price here is £491,000, which is more than double the £231,000 in the UK. Statistics Jersey has also shown local house price increases in Jersey have far exceeded wage growth.

Last September, I wrote a column for Bailiwick Express suggesting a solution could be to build a bridge to France, allowing islanders who were willing to commute to benefit from lower prices in Normandy. My sanity was called in to question. Fair enough, it was a bit of a radical idea, but critics focused on my solution rather than the problem I was trying to address: housing.

So here are a few other alternatives – again, none of them easy…

Build higher

Land is limited in Jersey. We want to preserve our green spaces, so why don’t we build higher? Much higher!


Pictured: According to Kevin, we ought to reconsider the height of our buildings. 

If these buildings were well-designed and grouped together, they could be made attractive and amazing sea views would be guaranteed.

Sacrifice green space

This would clearly be very unpopular, so not an idea for election time. 

2,750 homes are going to need quite a bit of space with consequent impacts on agriculture, wildlife and our general quality of life. Clearly the country parishes would have to take most of the strain (and us countryfolk can be a bit NIMBY-ish), but I guess it could be done – not by 2021, though.

Encourage people to leave the island

Also really tricky but maybe such a policy could be aimed at those who are over 65, a sector of the population forecast to increase substantially?

plane flight travel tourism tourist holiday

Pictured: What better way to reduce the squeeze than by encouraging people to leave?

Might retired people be attracted to the idea of increasing the cash available to fund retirement by selling their valuable Jersey property and moving to a warmer cheaper place?  Our government could offer some incentives – say, waiving stamp duty on property sales and not taxing pensions arising in Jersey, if you live elsewhere. 

Reclaim more land… a lot more

Another alternative could be to just make the Island bigger by reclaiming some more land. We have been doing this for quite a few years, but adding another parish would be a big project and clearly not popular with environmentalists.


Pictured: Kevin suggests that reclaiming more land might be an option.

I am sure most islanders will be thinking, ‘I don’t like any of these ideas so will never support them, besides its not my problem I already have a house!’

I would just urge them to think back and consider what alternatives they would have been in favour of when they were young, newly married and desperate to buy their first home. What would they have been saying then? 

The alternative? A major export industry for Jersey will be exporting our young people. 

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author, and not of Bailiwick Express.

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