The Constable of St Helier is confident that Warwick Farm will become a country park in the next three years - despite failing to secure £100,000 in funding to kickstart the project.
Simon Crowcroft has long called for the site off St. John’s Main Road, which is currently home to Jersey Hemp, to become an open space for recreational use.
Although it would be open to all Islanders, Mr Crowcroft has said the park would be particularly beneficial to town residents who lack their own outdoor space.
Last month, Mr Crowcroft sought to amend this year’s Government Plan budget to secure £100,000 to fund a feasibility project to get the park up and running. However, States Members rejected the proposal.
Despite this setback, the Constable said his commitment was unwavering, not least because establishing a St. Helier Country Park was a firm commitment of the Bridging Island Plan, which the past States Assembly approved last March.
“The BIP, which is the bible for development in Jersey, commits the Government to create the park, therefore I was disappointed that funding was not included in the Government Plan, especially as the BIP clearly states that it should be,” he said.
Mr Crowcroft conceded that his amendment should not have included the £100,000 figure, which had put off some States Members.
Pictured: Warwick Farm is off Grande Route de St. Jean close to Fern Valley and Vallée des Vaux.
Secondly, he said that he had not made it clear enough that Jersey Hemp should be given every assistance to find alternative premises.
“The current lease runs to the end of 2026 but that was broken by the previous Infrastructure Minister to accommodate the Jersey Bowling Club. However, that move is now unlikely to happen, which I am delighted about," he said.
“No politician wants to be seen as the one who evicts a successful business from their premises, and that has never been my intention.
“I think the majority of politicians recognise that, in the longer term, Warwick Farm would be best used as an open space which the whole island can benefit from, and in particular, St. Helier residents.
“There is a pent-up need for an open area which can provide recreational activities, such as horse riding, dog walking, mountain biking and perhaps a zip-line for children.”
The Constable said he planned to contact the Chief Minister and other Ministers in the next few weeks about setting up a steering group.
The Bridging Island Plan commits the Council of Ministers to "establish a project board to develop proposals to be included in the next Government Plan in order that the St. Helier Country Park can be delivered during the period covered by the BIP [which is to the end of 2025]."
Mr Crowcroft said he thought the Parish of St. Helier would be “perfectly able to manage” setting up and running this board.
He added that finding a new home for Jersey Hemp would also be a priority, as would improving access to Warwick Farm for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and users of public transport.
The concept of a St. Helier Country Park was first included in the 2011 Island Plan, following a successful amendment by Mr Crowcroft.
12 years later, one is yet to be established but last year, the Assembly agreed that it would be at the former States' Nurseries' site.
Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf confirmed to Express that he intended to progress with the "supplementary planning guidance to guide the form of recreational amenity to be provided", which is stated in the BIP.
However, he was unable to say when that would start, with officers currently working on other guidance notes.
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