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FOCUS: Why the new Island Plan affects every single islander

FOCUS: Why the new Island Plan affects every single islander

Wednesday 14 April 2021

FOCUS: Why the new Island Plan affects every single islander

Wednesday 14 April 2021


Covid has not only had a deep impact on us all personally, but has also significantly disrupted the normal business of government - perhaps one of the most significant casualties being the next Island Plan.

It should have come into force this year and provided a development blueprint for the next 10 years.

Instead, the Government has decided to plan for three years - from 2022 - instead, in the hope that, come 2024, we will have a clearer idea of the decade ahead. 

On Monday, Environment Minister John Young will lodge the draft three-year ‘bridging’ Island Plan.

It is likely to propose fields to be built on, sites to be developed, existing developments to be expanded, land to be rezoned, areas to be protected … in short, it will affect the lives of every Islander and will surely trigger lots of debate. 

Here, Express lays out what that will mean for islanders...

What is the Island Plan?

In normal times, the Island Plan is a document that provides a planning framework against which planning decisions are made over the next decade. 

The States Assembly adopted the current Island Plan in 2011 and revised it in 2014. The law requires an updated plan to be prepared and lodged in the Assembly by this year, but covid caused significant disruption to its drafting. The pandemic and Brexit have also caused overall uncertainty.

This forced the next 10-year plan to be delayed until after 2024, with a 'bridging' version covering 2022-2024 drawn up instead. It is intended that the plan will be adopted early next year.

constructionhome.jpg

Pictured: The bridging Island Plan will determine what can be built where over the next three years.

What assumptions have already been made?

Last October, the Government published its ‘Preferred Strategy Report’, which set out assumptions upon which the new bridging plan will be based.

It concluded that:

  • Analysis currently suggests that inward migration to Jersey in the next five years will be around half the level seen in the last five years, which was an additional 1,370 people a year.
  • So, the new plan is based on net population growth of 800 people a year, 700 of that through migration and 100 through natural growth. The assumption is based on recent migration trends and the likely impacts of Covid and Brexit. That equates to a population increase of 3,200 between now and 2024.
  • Provision should be made for around 3,750 homes, up to 2024.
  • This level of provision includes almost 1,000 extra homes to respond to the current housing shortfall that is currently driving up prices.
  • Family homes are needed.
  • Most development should be accommodated in town and other parts of the island that are already developed; but to meet the need for homes, and to help support parish communities, some greenfield land will need to be released for development.
  • The Government should consider future land reclamation in St. Helier.
  • The coast and countryside should continue to be protected from inappropriate development.

Housing capacity.jpeg

Pictured: A summary of the island's housing capacity over five years up to the end of the bridging Island Plan.

What about climate change, the environment and sustainability?

The Government says that achieving sustainable development – to support the sustainable wellbeing of islanders – is the “overarching strategic purpose” of the bridging Island Plan.

Specifically, the bridging Island Plan promotes sustainable development in order to maintain and enhance a vision of Jersey as:

“A special place, that faces the future; values and protects its environment and unique island identity; and acts with confidence to create the homes and jobs that sustain family and community life.”

The vision for the new Island Plan is based around seven “strategic policies”. These are: 

  • Spatial strategy: making use of land already developed and concentrating development in urban areas.
  • Placemaking: making sure developments are well designed, high quality and improve the existing environment.
  • Responding to climate change: make sure developments are low carbon, use reusable resources and green energy.
  • Protecting and promoting the Island’s identity: encouraging development that supports Jersey’s character and recognises the wider benefits of art, culture, heritage for health, wellbeing and the economy. 
  • Protecting and enhancing biodiversity.
  • A sustainable economy: helping to promote and enable small footprint/high value business; and foster innovation.
  • Planning for community needs: helping to ensure that all islanders have access to and can afford a decent home; seeking to enable a diverse, inclusive and more equitable society.
Island Plan strategic priorities.jpeg

Pictured: The strategic priorities underpinning the bringing Island Plan.

How will the Government reach the ‘3,750 more homes’ figure?

In 2018, the Government commissioned a report called ‘The Objective Assessment of Housing Need’ from a consultancy, which made it clear that more housing was required in the coming years, regardless of migration, as people live longer and household size continues to reduce.

The 3,750 figure arising from changes in ageing and dwelling patterns, from increases in population over the plan period; and from the 1,800-home net shortfall of the last Island Plan. Around half that shortfall will be met from the bridging Island Plan and the other half from the next one.

It includes approximately 1,420 three-bedroom owner-occupier units, and 820 four-bedroom owner-occupied units.

Of the 3,750 new homes, 1,500 will be categories as 'affordable'. The rate of building affordable homes set out in the plan is significant - double the average rate of actual building of affordable homes over the last couple of years.  

What else has influenced the bridging Island Plan up to now?

The Environment Minister has commissioned a number of reports that will influence the final draft of the plan: an assessment of Jersey’s marine and land environments, a review of historic buildings and a review of Jersey’s Coastal National Park, which recommended that it is significantly increased. 

Most recently, the Government announced that it had appointed independent planning inspectors to carry out a public examination of the draft bridging plan, which is a requirement by law.  

What happens now?

The lodging of the Plan next week will trigger a 12-week public consultation period, during which States Members will consider the plan and propose amendments. These amendments will also be considered by the independent inspectors.

Spring 2021

Stage 1: Lodge, initial representations and Minister’s response period

  • Appointed planning inspectors announced.
  • Draft bridging Island Plan officially proposed.
  • States Members able to make initial amendments to the Plan.
  • 12-week public consultation period.
  • Minister responds to initial representations.

Summer 2021

Stage 2: Examination in public begins

  • Inspectors’ review draft bridging Island Plan, associated evidence and initial representations.
  • Public consultation timetable published and further representations period.
  • Public hearings held.

Autumn 2021

Stage 3: Inspectors’ report published

  • Inspectors’ report published.
  • States Members able to propose further amendments.
  • Environment Minister presents amendments in light of consultation, public examination and States Members’ amendments.

March 2022

Stage 4: States Assembly debate and approval

  • States Assembly debate and adopt the bridging Island Plan.
  • Bridging Island Plan becomes new policy for planning decisions.

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