St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft has written to outgoing Chief Minister John Le Fondré urging him to press pause on forcibly purchasing Parish land for the new hospital.
Just hours before last week’s election, St. Helier received formal notice from the States Greffe of the amount that the Government was willing to pay to acquire Parish land as part of the compulsory purchase process.
The £5.2m offer for 11 pieces of land, including the car park along the People’s Park, the Jersey Bowling Club and ‘Gallows’ Hill’ on Westmount Road, is over £1m less that the £6.5m offer that was thrown out by a Parish assembly last December.
Now Mr Crowcroft is asking Senator Le Fondré to pause the process, which began last year when the States Assembly agreed the funding for the Our Hospital project.
In doing so, they also authorised the Environment Minister to spend up to £36m to acquire land, by force if needs be, using powers given to them under the 1961 Compulsory Purchase of Land Law.
Pictured: The compulsory purchases, if successful, will allow Westmount Road to be realigned to improve access to Overdale.
Mr Crowcroft said: “Not only is the offer more than £1m less than the offer previously received and rejected by a Parish Assembly, but Government has also withdrawn its offer of a land swap for the land currently occupied by the Jersey Bowling Club.
“They are now simply offering a relatively small financial sum of compensation for the land. This would effectively end the 100+-year-old relationship between the parish and the Jersey Bowling Club, which is entirely unacceptable.”
He continued: “I have asked the outgoing Chief Minister not to take any further action over the next few days but to allow the new Government and its ministers to decide whether or not to [continue] with the compulsory purchase of our land under what can only be described as a very controversial circumstance.
“I am aware that many newly-elected members, while supportive of the need for a new hospital, are not supportive of the development of Westmount Road into a ‘superhighway’.
“It is only right and proper that we pause for a few days whilst the transition to the new Government is completed.”
The current Government, which is still overseen by Senator Le Fondré until a new Council of Ministers is established, said that final decision on compulsory purchase orders would be for the new Government and new Environment Minister.
A Government spokesperson said: “No land or property has yet been bought for the hospital project through compulsory purchase.
“Most of the land required for the new hospital has been acquired through negotiation, but agreement was not reached with two of the landowners. One of these landowners is the Parish of St Helier.
“The previous government started the process of compulsory purchase in December 2021 after the Funding and Land Assembly Proposition debate in the States Assembly in October 2021. This process includes a series of legal notice requirements, one of which was recently served on the owners of the land.
“However, the final decision on compulsory purchase orders for this land sits with the new government and the relevant Minister.
Asked which minister had signed off the statement, the spokesperson said they were communicating a factual response from the Director-General of Infrastructure, Housing and Environment, Andy Scate.
Former minister Gregory Guida, who signed last week’s compulsory purchase orders, said: “The process was started by the last government, and that process straddles the political terms, so the next Assembly has to pick it up.
“The Assembly is sovereign – it has the power to make its own decisions. If it wants to change its mind, it can do so. There may be claims for damages etc, but there is no higher decision-making body; that is democracy.
Pictured: The ministerial orders were signed last week by former Assistant Environment Minister Gregory Guida.
“The Compulsory Purchase Law, as I understand it, is a three-stage process: first notification, second notification and Royal Court.
“But the final stage is not something that the Court picks up on its own. It has to be triggered by the Environment Minister; and that minister will be the person chosen by the new Assembly; not the old.”
The compulsory purchase notices which former Deputy Guida sent last week give the Parish eight days to respond, which is the minimum notice period allowed under the legislation.
Mr Crowcroft said that the Parish’s CEO, Jason Turner, had written to the States Greffier to explain that having received them just before the election, it had not been possible or practical to hold a Parish Assembly and respond within the 8-day notice period.
He said that the Parish has requested that it be given time to hold a Parish Assembly on 13 July, when parishioners would be able to consider the notices.
The existence of the orders was first raised by former Treasury Minister and recently re-elected Deputy Philip Ozouf, who said it was “outrageous” that they had been signed the day before the election.
Deputy Kristina Moore, who is almost certain to be the next Chief Minister, has said she will appoint an Assistant Minister to conduct a snap review of the Our Hospital project, to report back to the Assembly by 20 October.
Last week's ministerial decision by former Assistant Environment Minister Guida has now been published on gov.je.
The Assistant Minister decided to instruct the Greffier of the States to serve Acquisition of Land by Compulsory Purchase: Our Hospital Project - Second Notice(s) for the compulsory purchase of: Car Parking along Peirson Road; Petanque Pitch Verge adjacent St. Aubin's Road; Inn on the Park Car Park – car parking spaces (44 no) adjacent St Aubin's Road; People’s Park Car Park – car parking spaces (69 no) including 2 no bays for bicycles and motor bikes; Promenade including a section of playground adjacent to Westmount Road and attenuation tank; Land to the north of People’s Park including walkway; Protected open space area utilised by Bowling Club; Protected open space to the south of upper Westmount Road with steps on north east (1823 square metres); Verge to the north of Jersey Bowling Club (1660 square metres); Verge to the west of Westmount Road (1570 square metres); Protected open space (300 square metres) adjacent St. John’s Road (Clos Vaze); Near monument/Victoria Park (west); Layby and footway to the north of eastern end of Westmount Road; Layby and footpath to the east of Overdale Hospital; Footpath and public realm between St Aubin's Road and Victoria Avenue; Driveway, strip of land, bin store and raised planter at entrance to Hillcrest and Castle View owned by 5 Hillcrest, Westmount Road, St Helier JE2 3LP.
The Minister for the Environment, and the Assistant Minister for the Environment by virtue of the delegation of the Minister’s functions, is the acquiring authority within the meaning of the Compulsory Purchase of Land (Procedure) (Jersey) Law 1961, and Article 119 of the Planning and Building (Jersey) Law 2002. The Assistant Minister is authorised to acquire the following land and resolve rights or covenants as part of the Our Hospital Project following the approval and adoption of P.123/2020 (Our Hospital Site selection: Overdale), P.129/2020 (Our Hospital Project: acquisition of land for the new hospital at Overdale), P.167/2020 (Our Hospital: Preferred Access Route), and P.80/2021 (Our Hospital – Budget, Financing and Land Assembly) by the States Assembly. Background information in respect of the requirement to purchase the land can be found in the report to P.80/2021. Following the serving of first notices, and, where received, the responses to said notices, second notices are now required for the purposes of giving effect to the decisions of the States Assembly with regard to compulsory purchase of the land identified as part of the Our Hospital Project. The second notices are necessary because agreement has not been reached with the relevant landowners for the sale of the land or the surrender of leases. The second notice provides the compensation that has been evaluated to be appropriate for the land that is to be acquired.
A second ministerial order gives officers the right to go on the land to carry out surveys.
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