A newly re-elected Constable has said it was morally wrong for an outgoing Minister to refuse planning applications the day after last week’s election.
Last Thursday, the outgoing Environment Minister formally rejected two applications relating to the same property: to site 11 shipping containers and three structures for storage at Home Farm in St. Peter, and to change the use of an existing yard to a storage area for vehicles.
Both refusals were against the recommendation of an independent planning inspector, who oversaw an appeal hearing, concluding that the applications should be approved.
It was, however, in keeping with the original decisions of the planning officer.
Parish Constable Richard Vibert said the outgoing minister should not have signed the refusal decisions after the election, especially as it ran counter to the appeal decision.
Pictured: St. Peter Constable Richard Vibert thinks the ministerial decisions are “morally wrong”.
Although the official ministerial decision, dated 23 June, is signed by the Minister for the Environment, the actual signature is blanked out.
“After the Assistant Environment Minister signing compulsory purchase orders for land around Overdale, we now have another questionable decision made in election week,” said Mr Vibert, who this week joined Deputy Kristina Moore’s ‘Better Way’ movement.
Pictured: Home Farm is close to St. George's School in St. Peter.
“The minister – or whoever was acting on his behalf – may have been following the letter of the law but it is morally wrong for a decision like this to be made.
“It seems obvious to me that this should have been left for the new Environment Minister to decide.”
The application itself refers to a property off Mont de la Hague, near St. George’s School.
Mr Vibert said that its owner, Gerald Le Ruez, had had the containers on his property for more than 30 years but, six years ago, he had moved them, unaware that he needed planning permission to do that.
He said they had only recently been spotted in a different place by a planning officer reviewing aerial photos.
“The containers are used by charities and a church to store items, and one is used to store feed for Gerald’s donkeys,” he said. “They’ve been in the same place without a problem for six years; after eight, planning permission would not have been required.
“And the hardstanding has been there since the Germans put it down during the War; it appears in a photo taken by the RAF in 1944.
“The planning inspector who oversaw the appeal was very fair-minded, so I don’t understand why the minister has refused it; but he certainly shouldn’t have taken the decision a day after the new Assembly was chosen.”
Pictured: Home Farm is at the top of Mont de la Hague in St. Peter.
The two planning applications were first submitted on 11 January last year. Both were refused by Planning last October, which Mr Le Ruez appealed the following month. The appeal hearing was in February and the inspectors report was published on the same day as the minister's decision last week.
The application to change the use of the yard was originally refused because the site is in the green zone and its use for the long-term storage of commercial vehicles unrelated to agriculture was “not permissible” and “the intensification of use will impact the highway network”.
The application to site the shipping containers was also deemed outside of Island Plan policies.
The Government has been asked for comment on the recent application decisions.
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