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Housing plan “threatens very existence of dairy industry”

Housing plan “threatens very existence of dairy industry”

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Housing plan “threatens very existence of dairy industry”


Building on three fields in St. Helier would threaten the very existence of Jersey’s dairy industry and force the island to import organic milk, inspectors reviewing the next Island Plan have been told.

The warning about allowing 9.4 vergées of organically farmed land to be rezoned for affordable housing came from Andrew Le Gallais MBE, a farmer who also chairs the Jersey Milk Marketing Board.

The three fields - two of which have organic status - are in between Grande Route de St. Jean and Grande Route de Mont à l’Abbé.

They form one of nine sites that are being proposed as sites for affordable housing in the three-year ‘Bridging Island Plan’ currently being reviewed by two UK planning inspectors, who will make their recommendations to the Environment Minister early next year.

Deputy John Young had originally proposed 11 sites but two have already fallen away - two fields bordering St. Martin’s Village Green and part of the former Longueville Nurseries site in St. Saviour - after the landowners withdrew them from consideration. 

The three St. Helier fields would provide up to 76 homes according to the bridging Island Plan. However, Mr Le Gallais gave an impassioned plea to the inspectors to recommend their rejection.

“These fields are of critical importance not just to the farmer as an organic dairy producer but to the whole of the dairy industry in the island,” he said.

“I can tell you there are a lot of people within the dairy industry who are waiting on how this meeting is progressing. This poses a very real threat to our existence and yet we are at the centre of a heritage mark of our island."

Organic fields St. Helier Island Plan.jpeg

Pictured: The dairy industry say its very future could be threatened if affordable homes are built on fields in northern St. Helier.

He continued: “This is one of two farms in Jersey which supply Jersey Dairy with organic milk, and it takes some time to convert land to full organic status. 

“These fields have had organic status for a long period of time; they are of great strategic importance to the Jersey Dairy. 

“But the most important point, which is why we are so concerned about this, is because this farm supplies 50% of the organic milk supply in the island... the effect of rezoning these fields for housing is going to have a direct effect on the capability of this farm to supply organic milk in the future. 

“And if Jersey Dairy does not receive enough organic milk to supply the local population, there is a very real danger, even though there’s legislation against it, that milk could be brought into the island. 

“That is something the Government has been clear about preventing because this is the home of the breed, this is where our pedigree comes from, and the Jersey Cow is recognised as an iconic status symbol and of significant heritage value.”

In response, Kevin Pilley, the Government’s Head of Place and Spatial Planning, who is representing Deputy Young at the public hearings, said: “When the Minister has been considering the need for affordable homes, he has had regard for the provision of homes across the island.

“Proposals to bring forward sites on agricultural land is one the minister takes reluctantly - but we find ourselves in a situation where there is a requirement to respond to the need for affordable homes.”

Other sites, and also ‘Plan B’ reserve sites were also discussed and debated on the second day of the two-week ‘examination in public’ of the draft plan.

Focusing on the east of the Island, these included a farmed field next to Haute Vallée School, which St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft wants to protect, and fields around Five Oaks.

Campaigning against development on five fields in the area, Patricia Blandin of the Save Our St. Saviour group said that extra building - on top of the Andium’s already-approved plans to increase the density at Les Cinq Chênes - would lead to congestion and existing infrastructure would fail to cope.

Fields: S413, S415, S415A and S470, Le Grande Route de St Martin, St Saviour.png

CLICK TO ENLARGE: These four fields in St. Saviour are earmarked for housing. Deputy Kevin Lewis said he would be prepared to accept building on S470 and S415A.

If approved, the cluster of four fields opposite the old JEP building and one off Princes Tower Road will provide up to 192 houses.

But residents say that Five Oaks is already too busy, particularly during the morning rush-hour.

However, planning consultants representing the owners of the fields said that they were within walking distance of many primary and secondary schools so would complement the Government’s sustainable transport objectives.

Island Plan field 410 Rue des Buttes St Martin.jpeg

Pictured: Residents are objecting to building on Field MN410 in St. Martin.

St. Saviour Deputy Kevin Lewis told the hearing that he was against development of the fields, but would be prepared to accept building on two of the fields, which run alongside Les Cinqs Chênes estate to the north.

A resident living close to a field in St. Martin also voiced her objections to the inspectors. 

Kate Hughes said that a field - ‘MN410’ - off Rue des Buttes, which is immediately south of the Catholic church, was “entirely unsuitable” for housing as it could only be accessed by quiet Green Lane. 

She added that the junction of the lane with the main road was very difficult and was ill suited to the potentially 34 homes which the Island Plan proposes there.

The inspectors also heard evidence about the ‘Plan B’ housing sites dropped into the Island Plan in September, and extra sites which have been proposed by States Members and islanders.

READ MORE …

Deputy backs bid to save St. Helier dairy fields

Campaigners fight building on remaining organic fields

Campaigners call for royal help to save fields from development

FOCUS: Fields earmarked for affordable homes in short-term Island Plan

FOCUS: Battle lines drawn over affordable home sites

WATCH...

Catch up on the first few Island Plan hearings below...

PART 1: Strategic matters

PART 2: Housing (day 1)

PART 2: Housing (day 2)

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Comments

Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by nigel pearce on
Utilise existing sites better and ally this to a population control that puts a stop to enlarging our numbers. Jersey must learn to become self sufficient with its present population.
Posted by Jon Jon on
Where ever you try to build houses people will object,but have to admit why look at those fields in St Helier,I know of waste land sites around St Helier where you could build ,close to amenities,major supermarkets etc and where already I’ve noticed the bank of land falling into the road for last year or so.
Posted by Sheila Young on
Fields and green space in and around St Helier are not allowed they are only for our more wealthy residents it would seem. St Helier is already so overbuilt it would seem there is little they can do to make it any worse. We need a government that makes population control a priority. One day this mania for building flats in every available space will have to stop. Greedy developers and states members are responsible for this mess and someone needs to take control.
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