A debate on a new policy governing how the Government should deal with properties built on the controversial foreshore has been pushed back to allow time for an in-depth probe into its fairness.
The vote on the new policy will now take place in January 2021, after the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel have reviewed it.
Announcing their review this morning, they promised to take “a balanced approach” as they examine how the Government have dealt with coastal landowners so far and whether the proposed changes in the 'compensation' policy are fairer to affected property owners.
The draft new policy proposes a ‘sliding scale’ of retrospective charges for those that have bought property on, or built on, the ill-defined land between the historic high tide and low tide marks around the island.
That land – the foreshore - was initially owned by the Crown, but it was gifted back to the island in 2015, putting it into public ownership.
Pictured: The foreshore is described as the area between the high and low tide mark.
As Express has previously reported, there have been repeated delays in revealing to the public where exactly the foreshore lies, though it is understood that more than 400 properties could be within its boundaries.
While the Government is still declining to release the details of where the foreshore is, and the hundreds of coastal properties that might be affected, Director of Property Tim Daniels said last week the default line, which would specify which properties are on the controversial foreshore, would be ready “in the new year.”
Since the Crown gifted the land to the public of the island, Jersey Property Holdings has been pursuing coastal property owners for ‘compensation’ for any ‘encroachments’ on this land when they go to sell their homes – even if they didn’t put them there themselves.
Several concerns have been raised as to the fairness of the policy and its application, with a Complaints Board agreeing with coastal homeowners, Alan Luce and Julian Mallinson, in 2018.
Since then, Jersey Property Holdings and the Law Officers’ Department have undertaken a landside boundary project to determine a default boundary line which, historically, has been very difficult to define.
Pictured: Jersey Property Holdings has been pursuing coastal property owners for ‘compensation’ for any ‘encroachments’ on the foreshore land.
The policy was published on 18 September, ahead of a crucial vote in the States Assembly in which Deputy Carolyn Labey asked for the Government to cease and desist with its Foreshore compensation regime.
Originally slated for November and pushed back to December, the debate will now take place on 19 January due to the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel's review.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Kevin Lewis, has agreed to defer the debate so that the Panel can seek evidence from several sources and stakeholders and hold a public hearing with the Minister. The Panel will then publish a report ahead of the debate.
Pictured: Constable Mike Jackson chairs the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel.
“There has been much controversy on this topic in recent years and the main aim of the Panel’s review is to take a balanced approach at examining how the foreshore policy has been applied in the past, the reasons for this, and to understand whether the revised policy reflects a fairer approach to the 400-plus property owners who are affected,” Chair of the Panel Constable Mike Jackson said.
“We also wish to further understand how these encroachments might have affected sea defences and their ongoing maintenance.”
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