Fields which are part of one of Jersey’s two organic dairy farms have been saved from development – although more land around the island is being proposed for homes.
Independent planning inspectors reviewing the draft three-year ‘Bridging Island Plan’ have published their report, which makes 60 recommendations for change, most of them accepted by the Environment Minister.
This includes making provision to build 1,650 affordable homes instead of the 1,500 originally planned. 600 of these will be built on greenfield sites.
In total, the updated plan proposed building 4,300 homes, with 2,650 on the open market.
The Minister, Deputy John Young, will now seek to amend his own plan, which is due to be debated by the States Assembly in March.
Members themselves have lodged 60 amendments to plan, meaning that it could have more than 100 in total.
At least one, however, is likely to be quickly settled, as the Minister has accepted the inspectors’ recommendation that three organically farmed fields off Grande Route de Mont à l’Abbé had been earmarked for up 76 homes are removed.
St. Helier Deputy Mary Le Hegarat had lodged the very first amendment calling for their protection, which Deputy Young will now accept.
Hannah Curnock, one of a number of residents who formed a group to oppose the plans for the fields, said that everyone was delighted at the news.
“We are so pleased that the cows will keep their home and the farmer will remain in business and able to produce organic milk,” she said. “We did a lot of work and 1,000 people signed a petition, so I’m pleased that reason has prevailed.
Pictured: Hannah Curnock in one of the fields which will no longer be developed on.
“Our beautiful oak tree and local birds of prey will also get to stay.”
Fields in St. Clement will also be withdrawn as a potential alternative housing site after the proposal was not supported by the inspectors.
Residents in the parish also vehemently opposed development.
However, while some affordable housing sites have been removed from the plan, others have been added.
These were previously on a 'Plan B list' proposed by the minister in September, in case his Plan A sites were rejected. Other sites were also proposed directly by landowners and their advisers to the planning inspectors, who held a public examination of the plan in November and December.
Following the inspectors' report, the Minister has compiled his final list to present to the States Assembly.
Click to enlarge: J1109 – a field in St. John immediately to the south of Sion Chapel.
Click to enlarge: H1248 – a long field running alongside the back of the former Channel Television studios at La Pouquelaye.
Click to enlarge: MY563 – a strip of land north of Jardin de Haut between Rue de la Rosière and Rue de la Vallée in St. Mary.
Click to enlarge: O622 and O623 – two large fields to the east of Rue de la Croute in St. Ouen.
Click to enlarge: P558 – to the north of Verte Rue behind Clos de Ruez in St. Peter.
Click to enlarge: P559 – the field behind the already proposed P632 between Verte Rue and Route du Manoir in St. Peter.
Click to enlarge: S341 – on the corner of Bel Air Lane and Deloraine Road in St. Saviour.
Click to enlarge: O785 – a field off Rue des Cosnets, on the road leading to Les Landes School, in St. Ouen. This was allocated for affordable homes in the last Island Plan but has not yet been developed.
As previously reported, two other sites on the original list have fallen away: one in St. Martin close to the village green and on in St. Saviour at the former Longueville Nurseries.
Other controversial aspects of the plan have been supported by the inspectors, so stay in.
This includes a proposal to ‘safeguard’ a field next to La Gigoulande Quarry for mineral extraction has been supported by the inspectors so will remain in the plan.
The inspectors argue that the continuation of on-island quarrying is more important that the environmental impact of losing field ‘MY966’.
Pictured: Campaigners have failed to persuade independent inspectors to reject the safeguarding of a field in St. Peter for quarrying.
This argument also extends to their recommendation that the operator of a quarry in St. Ouen’s Bay is given a permit to extract more sand. The minister has said he will support this, subject to an environmental impact assessment and strict terms as to how it is restored.
A proposal to build on fields opposite the former JEP offices at Five Oaks and a field off Princes Tower Road has also been backed.
Deputy Young, however, says he will commission a ‘masterplan’ for the area to alleviate congestion, which was a considerable concern of residents opposing more houses there.
Fields accepted for the 'Plan A' list include a field south of Haute Vallée School in St. Helier, one in Rue des Buttes in St. Martin, two joined fields off Clos de la Fosse au Bois in St. Ouen, another off Rue des Buttes in St. John, a field alongside Sente des Fonds in Grouville and P632, the field directly opposite the George Carteret pub in St. Peter.
A number of additional fields which islanders asked the inspectors to consider as affordable housing sites have been rejected by the inspectors, and subsequently by the minister.
These include two sites in St. John, two in St. Martin, two in St. Lawrence and two in St. Brelade.
States Members react
States Members now have until Monday 7 February – just over a week – to lodge further amendments, which have to be restricted to the recommendations of the inspectors’ report and the minister’s response.
The debate for the plan is due to begin on Monday 14 March and is now to last two weeks.
Some Members have already said that they are considering amendments.
St. John Constable Andy Jehan said he was “incredibly disappointed” that the inspectors, and the minister, had rejected parish proposals to build sheltered homes.
“These plans were developed by an elected committee of the parish to meet identified housing needs, but they have not been supported,” he said. “And yet a field which we don’t support – J1109 – has been recommended for development."
He added that he would be meeting with parish officials on Monday to discuss a response, which could include an amendment to the plan.
Senator Kristina Moore, who has lodged an amendment to get the Le Gigoulande mineral safeguarding removed, said she would be meeting with political colleagues and interested parties to discuss the inspector’s comments and consider the next step.
She added that she was considering further amendments to promote a greater focus on sustainable and quicker building methods, which would reduce the need of aggregates in the future.
However, the Scrutiny head said she was “delighted” that the inspectors had proposed increasing the number of affordable homes.
Referring to the extra sites in her home parish, she said: “It is excellent news that the sites in the centre of St. Peter are going to be supported by the minister as they will make fantastic homes for families within a wonderful community.”
St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft said he would be fighting against development in H1248 and lodging an amendment to remove it from the plan.
"There has been resistance to development on that field for years, and for very good reason: it is an important open, green area in the parish," he said.
Pictured: Field H1248 off Highvern Lane. The old Channel TV studios are on the right. (Google Maps)
"There are lots of brownfield sites, such as the old Don Theatre in Don Road, which must be developed first. Also, we only heard yesterday that 1,000 more homes were planned for the Waterfront; St. Helier should not be losing anymore fields, and I'm sure the parish deputies agree with me on that."
Environment Minister Deputy Young said: “I’d like to thank the inspectors and all those who contributed to the Examination in Public process.
“The inspectors’ report is thorough and comprehensive, and because of the high level of engagement throughout the Island Plan review process I have real confidence in accepting the vast majority of the recommendations.
“It is now for my fellow States Members to also carefully consider the inspectors’ report, and I hope that they will give it due weight in their own deliberations.”
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