St. Helier is set to get a new country park at Warwick Farm within the next three years after politicians backed a plan put forward by the parish's Constable.
The future of the former States Nurseries halfway between the Powerhouse and the Motor Mall has been up in the air for some time.
Constable Simon Crowcroft successfully added the concept of a St. Helier Country Park in the 2011 Island Plan but without specifying exactly where it should be.
Always a possibility, Warwick Farm was subsequently rented out to Jersey Hemp on a nine-year lease from 1 January 2018 and the site was also in the frame for the new hospital.
Constable Crowcroft lodged an amendment to the three-year Bridging Island Plan – currently being debated by the States Assembly - to set up a project board to deliver the country park at Warwick Farm by 2025.
However, Deputy Kirsten Morel proposed a counter-amendment seeking to stop Warwick Farm from becoming a park on the basis that Jersey Hemp should be allowed to stay.
Deputy Morel was first to make his argument to the States Assembly on Thursday morning.
The St Lawrence Deputy and Assistant Economic Development Minister strongly argued that Jersey Hemp was a home-grown island success story that was a world leader in the development of non-medicinal cannabis products, such as cosmetics, food, clothing and building materials.
Pictured: Jersey Hemp has been based at Warwick Farm since the business signed a lease with the Government in 2017.
He said: “Jersey Hemp is, in so many ways, the ideal island business: it is bringing back the ancient Jersey business of hemp cultivation, it is innovating and investing, it is championing the environment and it can even aid the construction industry with ‘hempcrete’.
“This business is turning heads around the world, yet we are in danger of squashing it.”
He added that the company, which was founded by three ex-Jersey firefighters and now employs 12 full-time staff, had not been consulted about the country park plans.
It could not easily move elsewhere as it has a laboratory, processing centre and other buildings, as well as its glasshouses and polytunnels, he said.
Most States Members, however, while voicing their support for Jersey Hemp, said that the area needed a country park.
Others were persuaded by a “compromise” from the St. Helier Constable, who agreed to remove part of his proposal which said that the country park should be brought forward for development once a break point in Jersey Hemp’s lease arrived in January 2023.
Deputy Morel, however, argued that the lease had already been broken late last year when Jersey Property Holdings renegotiated it to allow the Jersey Bowling Club to move from Westmount Road to the farm.
Swiftly after Deputy Morel’s amendment was defeated by 30 votes to 14, Constable Crowcroft’s plan was debated.
Having thrown out a proposal not to develop Warwick Farm as a country park, the debate to make it one was far quicker, with the amendment approved by 33 votes to nine.
It includes a provision for the park to expand into neighbouring countryside should it be deemed possible.
Pictured: St. John is set to have a community garden and wood alongside Rue des Buttes opposite the Parish Hall and primary school.
Later in the morning session, States Members also approved to rezone a field alongside St. John Parish Hall and primary school for community use to create a memorial garden, wooded area for use as a forest school and some parking, particularly for teachers.
The amendment was approved by 42 votes with no one voting against.
However, the States Assembly rejected removing the ‘protected open space’ designation of a small field opposite the Morrison’s car park in St. Ouen to build homes for elderly parishioners. The proposal, by St. Ouen Constable Richard Buchanan, was thrown out by 28 votes to 11.
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Assuming the hospital is turned down at Westmount, they will need the site for that!
One must remember that our Planning Dept. have ruled against the Westmount site.