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Swell of support for "much needed" new homes plan

Swell of support for

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Swell of support for "much needed" new homes plan

Wednesday 21 February 2024


Plans for a new St John housing development of nearly 40 assisted purchase homes with a communal open space that could include a pétanque court, adventure park and herb garden have been met with a swell of support and interest from islanders.

Ashbe Construction has put forward proposals to build 38 properties on a field located in Sion Village adjacent to La Grande Route de St Jean and next to the Sion Methodist Church.

According to the Bridging Island Plan, the re-zoned site must be used for affordable housing – meaning these will be eligible for the Government's assisted purchase scheme.

Ben Cairney, Chief Executive of Ashbe, said that more than 50 interested parties had already contacted him about how to secure one of the homes which showed that affordable homes for young families were "desperately needed".

The plans comprise three two-bedroom, 32 three-bedroom, and three four-bedroom dwellings with parking, gardens, plus new vehicle and pedestrian access.

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Pictured: The final design for the homes. (Ashbe Construction/Mac Architects)

Almost a third of the site will be given to the parish and dedicated to public use, and the communal open space could feature a pétanque court, orchard, rain garden, herb garden and adventure ground for older children.

Architects had to implement changes following the delayed release of supplementary planning guidance in November, which meant that parking requirements had to be "greatly" reduced from two to one per dwelling, with additional space used for additional soft landscaping and visitor parking.

Red tape

Mr Cairney said that it had taken longer than expected to submit the plans because the developer was waiting for the supplementary guidance to be released.

Former Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf said that the delay was "a matter of regret", but it has been necessary to "clarify the position on drainage infrastructure, and to develop the associated suite of revised planning guidance on density, parking, and residential space standards before this guidance could be issued".

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Pictured: The home designs. (Ashbe Construction/Mac Architects)

He said: "The reaction to the plans has been largely positive, and we have had a huge amount of people contacting us.

"There are around 50 people who want to be put on the waiting list and want to know whether they can be prioritised, without even publicising them for sale.

"It shows that these types of affordable homes are needed desperately."

He said that he hoped the communal space could be "multi-generational".

"An amazing-looking development"

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Pictured: One islander commented on the application saying it had "really hit the sweet spot in terms of what the island is desperately in need of". (Ashbe Construction/Mac Architects)

Islanders have also welcomed the plans with many public comments already on the application.

One commented: "An amazing looking development in a sustainable location on a fantastic bus route.

"I've seen many housing proposals put forward and this one looks like it has really hit the sweet spot in terms of what the island is... desperately in need of, and that's family housing."

He said it was a "breath of fresh air" that the developer had brought this scheme to the table.

"It angers me that anyone would try to suggest this isn't a great scheme for the island," he added.

Others shared his opinion, saying that "more like this need to happen".

Another wrote: "This is a great initiative and definitely something that is required in Jersey to sustain the rising costs of living and property markets.

"There are so many young local families who cannot afford to purchase their own property, at best all they can afford is a small apartment".

"Potential to significantly... harm the setting and character"

However, among those to comment on the application were some islanders who raised concerns that there was "real potential to significantly and permanently harm the setting and character of Sion Village", as well as about conservation, traffic and wildlife.

One individual also argued that areas of "local conversation importance" would be compromised.

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Pictured: .... (Ashbe Construction/Mac Architects)

She said the overall number of houses should be reduced to "mitigate" harm to local wildlife and requested a "full community consultation with local residents".

"There does not appear to be a solution for the increased load of 38 properties on this already struggling drainage system".

"On an Island nine miles by five essentially everywhere is everyone's backyard."

She expressed concern that there would be "increased potential for road traffic accidents involving vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians given the density of housing proposed."

Another was concerned about a "serious lack of parking", with another opposed the use of "fertile land" for housing, instead saying: "Jersey is awash with disused green house sites which are a much more viable option."

"The scheme is great but the impact from the location I fell is an ill thought out option."

The full application – which has been graded 'Major' - will be considered at a later date. It can be viewed in full here.

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