A new campaign group is being formed to fight development they think will lead to "urban sprawl", more traffic, a fall in biodiversity and a significant impact on one of Jersey's two organic herds.
The draft short-term Island Plan has earmarked three fields along La Grande Route de St. Jean - on the western side of the main road almost opposite the St. Helier parish depot – to take up to 76 homes.
Residents who live by the fields are protesting the potential loss of one of the few remaining ‘country’ parts of the parish, and are inviting others with concerns about the fields to attend a meeting at the West Hill Hotel on Monday at 19:00.
The campaign group has already launched a petition, which has garnered more than 400 signatures, and says it will also make submissions to the independent planning inspector, who will review the three-year Island Plan before it goes to the States Assembly for approval.
Hannah Curnock, one of the organisers of the campaign, said that it would be a “tragedy” if the fields are built on.
Pictured: St. Helier resident and campaigner Hannah Curnock in one of the fields that could be built on.
“Coming up from St Helier, this is where the countryside begins,” she said. “If this is allowed, where does it stop? In 20 years’ time, it will be an urban sprawl all the way to Sion.
“Yes, I live nearby so, of course, there some nimbyism, but all that means is that I fully understand and appreciate how important these fields are, and equally, how busy this area already is.
“We know that the new hospital is being built at Overdale and now we hear that a Range store could go into the Motor Mall… with these houses too, the traffic would be appalling.
“The fields are bursting with life, including hawks, harriers and buzzards, and they are important scenes of nature, which is good for everyone’s mental health. I haven’t met one person who thinks this proposal is a good idea.”
Pictured: The fields are used by one of Jersey's two organic dairy farms.
Jersey Farmers’ Union President Peter Le Maistre confirmed that the organisation would be opposing the rezoning of the three fields, although the JFU’s full council was meeting next week to collate and produce its full response to the Island Plan.
“Our members know all of the fields in the plan, so we have sent out a questionnaire to get detailed information about each one, such as its earliness and how it slopes,” he said.
“However, I can already say that the JFU supports the dairy industry, so we will be opposing the rezoning of these fields, as well as the one in St Peter in Route du Manoir.
“With dairy fields, it is imperative that they are close to the farm, so this land is incredibly important. I understand that these fields in St. Helier are around 15% of the farmer’s holding so a significant amount, and they are also organic.
“You cannot simply ask an organic farmer to move because it takes two years to convert a field. We simply cannot afford to lose these fields.”
Pictured: A marsh harrier photographed taking off from an oak in one of the fields.
According to the draft Island Plan itself, the fields are "strategically highly important" because of their proximity to the nearby dairy farm.
St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft has said the parish opposes building on these fields, as well as the other site in St. Helier proposed in the draft plan, which is next to Haute Vallée School.
The Government has consistently said that it invites all Islanders to engage with the Island Plan process. More information about the consultation, which runs until 12 July, can be found HERE.
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