Fields in St. Ouen, one in La Pouquelaye and another in St. Saviour have been saved from development, while parish plans for homes in St. John have been given the green light.
On the first day of what many would call the 'business end' of the three-year Bridging Island Plan – deciding which green fields should be rezoned – States Members backed a number of amendments to stop agricultural land from being built on.
They included one from Deputy Mary Le Hegarat to remove two fields in St. Ouen from the plan. Both off Rue de la Croute, which runs into Hydrangea Avenue, one of the fields is farmed for Jersey Royals, the other is used for grazing by a neighbouring dairy farmer.
Earmarked for 77 houses, the development of ‘O622’ and ‘O623’ had the backing of both parish Constable Richard Buchanan and Deputy Richard Renouf, but they failed to persuade States Members that their loss to agriculture and the further erosion of countryside was a price worth paying.
Pictured: Two fields in St. Ouen will no longer be built on after States Members voted to remove them from the Bridging Island Plan.
Referring to her own childhood growing up on tenant farms, Deputy Le Hegarat made an impassioned plea for the dairy field, which is owned the Parish Church, to be saved.
Deputy Renouf argued that the fields were a “logical extension” of the existing build-up area around the parish hall and nearby shops, and the homes were needed to keep young people in the parish.
However, Members voted by 22 votes to 18 to eject them from the plan.
It was a double-success for Deputy Le Hegarat on Thursday. Moments earlier another amendment – this time to save a field behind the former Channel TV studios at La Pouquelaye from development – had been accepted, by 23 votes to 18.
Pictured: Field H1248 next to the old Channel TV studios at La Pouquelaye will remain in agriculture.
The St. Helier Deputy, who was backed by her fellow district deputies and Constable Simon Crowcroft, said that the field had been judged by the Jersey Farmers’ Union to be of high value and there was also deep concern about the impact of traffic on the La Pouquelaye / Queen’s Road junction.
The Deputy had the backing of Reform, whose leader Senator Sam Mezec said that the Government had to first build homes on its own land before taking fields for development.
A small field on the corner of Bel Air Lane and Deloraine Road was also saved from the bulldozer and cement mixer when Environment Minister John Young agreed to support an amendment by St. Saviour Constable Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard to take ‘S341’ off the affordable homes list.
Pictured: Field S341 in Bel Air Lane will not have 17 homes built on it after a successful amendment by St. Saviour Constable Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard.
The field had been earmarked for 17 homes.
Two amendments by St. John Constable Andy Jehan – this time to build on fields – were supported by the Assembly.
The first – to construct affordable rental homes for over-55s in ‘J229’ on Route du Nord – was approved despite objections from Deputy Young, who said it would damage the setting of the nearby village and the landscape character of the area.
Members, however, were more impressed by the Constable’s arguments, in particular his account of how sites had been identified after a lengthy selection process by a democratically elected ‘Comité’ of parishioners.
The Assembly heard that although an oak copse in J229 would be lost, another area nearby, four times the size, would be created as a woodland.
A second field proposed by Constable Jehan – field 'J236' in Rue du Cimetière – was also passed for first-time buyer and ‘right-sizing’ properties. This was supported by the Environment Minister.
Earlier in the day, States Members had set a target for the number of homes they will endeavour to provide in the plan: 4,300 homes in total, including 1,650 affordable homes, of which 600 will be built on rezoned fields.
Pictured: Members backed extending St. John's parish sheltered homes into Field 'J229'.
They also agreed to an amendment put forward by Deputy Inna Gardiner that no more than 50% of rezoned affordable home sites would be allocated to parishioners where the homes are located.
On Friday, Members will debate the remaining affordable home sites that the Environment Minister has added to the BIP following the recommendations of the independent inspectors.
These involve one field in St. John (J1109), one in St. Mary (MY563), one in St. Ouen (O785) and two in St. Peter (P558 and P559).
With no amendments to remove them, these are likely to be voted through, especially after Constable Jehan gave his backing to building on J1109, which is next to Sion Methodist Chapel.
However, environmental campaigners are urging Members to reject this and another field in St. Martin as they are both needing grounds for bats.
This will not be the end of the affordable homes debate, however, with Members still to discuss Deputy Young’s original list which, controversially, includes fields at Five Oaks and one in Grouville.
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