Multi-million plans for open spaces at the Waterfront have been criticised as “dull”, “generic” and likely to create areas which will be "unpleasant to use" by the landscape architect responsible for managing Jersey’s public parks and gardens.
Writing in a personal capacity, Bruce Labey has formally submitted comments to a planning application from Jersey Development Company, which is seeking outline permission to build close to 1,000 homes and create £150m-worth of public amenities on land south of Route de la Liberation, from the AquaSplash to West Park.
In his comment, Mr Labey praises the original designs for the area published by JDC and its partner architect Gillespies in August 2020.
After that, plans were updated to take into account public comments and dialogue with the Planning Department.
These changes have been a retrograde step, according to Mr Labey.
“When the original design scheme for the new South West St. Helier Waterfront was published, I actually got in touch with JDC to congratulate them on the Gillespies’ design.
“It was one of the best landscape designs, both aesthetically and in terms of micro-climate creation, that I had seen being proposed for our island in many years; a truly world-class scheme that I hoped would make Jersey people proud of their Waterfront.
“Unfortunately, nothing of that superb design has survived in the scheme that is being presented by JDC for consideration.”
Pictured: The original designs from Gillespies included tidal seawater pools.
In particular, Mr Labey criticises the removal of seawater tidal swimming pools at West Park from the plans, which have been replaced by “a drab rectangular swimming pool in the most exposed part of the site with no effective wind mitigation measures and visually separated from the sea.”
He adds that the proposed main public areas are “fully exposed to the prevailing winds with little or no shelter”.
The landscape architect also argues that the plans offer “no connection into St. Helier” which would have been provided by the “stunning pier jutting out into the sea”.
He adds: “The scheme is a mass of housing with private courtyards and a few bits of green garnish crammed in around the edges and designated as ‘public space’.
“In truth, these are canyons that act as transit spaces (and wind tunnels) with little or no focus on the people who will have to use them.”
The outline planning application will be subject to a public inquiry led by an independent inspector in May.
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