One of the homeowners entangled in the controversy over the foreshore has slammed the Government’s approach as “inept and immoral” following news that a major piece of work on the elusive coastal strip has been pushed back, even though 70% of the project’s budget is already spent.
Former coastal homeowner, and experienced Chartered Surveyor, Julian Mallinson has lambasted the Government for their approach as further delays and uncertainty plague the handling of the foreshore saga.
Two months ago, a Scrutiny hearing with Infrastructure Minister Deputy Kevin Lewis gave the impression that work on the ‘Landside Boundary Review’ was almost completed and, following this, the department would be formulating their encroachment policy.
Now, it has emerged in a Freedom of Information request that the publication date of the review has been swept back to April 2020 as the project – which seemingly has no finalised terms of reference – continues well into the new year.
Pictured: Infrastructure Minister Deputy Kevin Lewis.
Having failed to keep the Infrastructure Minister’s commitment that the review informing the Government’s official policy on the foreshore would be published in January, the department have blamed the availability of their lawyer and the complexity of the research for the four-month delay.
These new developments have caused Mr Mallinson – who himself was slapped with a hefty fine for ‘encroaching’ on the ill-defined publicly owned land – to hit out at the Department once again for the way this review is being handled.
Having been sceptical following the Minister’s and his officers’ announcement of the boundary review, Mr Mallinson said that he is no longer surprised by what he described as the department’s “ineptitude.”
He told Express: “If I had not been involved in this farce for the last five years, I would not believe that JPH [Jersey Property Holdings] could be so incompetent, however, sadly the ineptitude of the Department no longer surprises me.
Mr Mallinson continued: “JPH have ignored the findings of the Complaints Panel and mislead the Scrutiny Committee, the Department’s handling of the foreshore saga has been both inept and immoral,” joking that the only that could be said in their favour is that at least their approach has been “consistent”.
Pictured: The department have blamed their lawyer's availability and the complexity of the work for the four-month delay.
The Chartered Surveyor also reiterated his long-held concerns about the consequences of the Government’s review to pinpoint exactly where the foreshore begins and ends.
“Although I am unaware of the Terms of Reference for the review, (if these have even been issued) - it is obvious that in identifying the position of the original foreshore it was historically significantly inland from the current coastal defences.
“So, by redrawing the boundary of the foreshore potentially hundreds of properties will be liable to fines under JPH’s current policy. JPH will then need to decide to review its policy or risk a class action.”
Although the FoI request indicates that the scope of the review have not yet been finalised – despite work on the project starting in the first quarter this year, the Government have contradicted this in their response to Express’s questions, saying that the terms of reference have indeed been finalised.
Express has sought clarification from the Government on this matter, but is yet to receive a response.
The longstanding crisis over the foreshore was brought to light when Express revealed the struggles of two coastal homeowners – Alan Luce and Mr Mallinson – who were slapped with hefty fines from Jersey Properties Holdings (JPH) when they tried to sell up due to claims that their houses were built on public land.
Pictured: Alan Luce was also a coastal homeowner slapped with a hefty fine from JPH when he tried to sell his house.
Long-contested and vaguely defined as the area of land “lying between the low water mark and the high water mark of the full spring tide,” disputes over the foreshore have prompted the Government to carry out a review to assess where exactly the boundary between public and private land lies.
The problems arose when the Queen – who originally owned the foreshore and seabed – gifting the land back to ‘the public’ in 2015. Following this, JPH have pursued financial recompense from owners of seaside property, even if the building was on the foreshore before the land was gifted back to the people of Jersey.
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