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Ex-Minister: Passing new Waterfront plans would be a "mistake"

Ex-Minister: Passing new Waterfront plans would be a

Wednesday 08 March 2023

Ex-Minister: Passing new Waterfront plans would be a "mistake"

Wednesday 08 March 2023

It would be a "mistake" to pass current plans to radically overhaul the Waterfront, according to Jersey's former Environment Minister - who says that half of all new homes built there should be affordable.

John Young, who retired from politics last year not long after successfully steering the current Island Plan through the Assembly, has formally commented on a planning application to build almost 1,000 homes on reclaimed land south of Rue de la Libération and the underpass.

He is not only critical of elements of the plan, put forward by the taxpayer-owned Jersey Development Company, but also the process by which it will be decided. 

Call for 50% of new Waterfront homes to be affordable

Mr Young also supports St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft’s proposal to develop a masterplan for the whole of St Helier before approving the Waterfront development.

The former minister, who was a senior civil servant before that, adds that 30% - and preferably 50% - of the 984 homes earmarked for the site should be ‘affordable’ – meaning that purchasers are given financial support.

Currently, the plan is that 15% of them will be.

"Why should the best sites not go to our young people?"

Mr Young argues: “The proposed 15% affordable homes provision is way short of what is needed. Why should the best sites not go to our young people?

“I voted unsuccessfully for an increase to 30% and 50% provision in the Island Plan debate against my former ministerial colleagues.

“However, I did succeed in bringing an amendment to the IP policy which allows Ministers to increase the 15% on this site to a higher provision through the procedural mechanism of the Government plan each year. 

“That IP policy should be put into effect within with these plans with at least 30% affordable provision on this site, preferably 50%.”

"Disappointing" terms of reference for planning inquiry

The outline application by JDC, which includes extended public parks, new squares, streets and leisure facilities, and an art-house cinema, will be subject of an independent planning inquiry to be held in May.

Mr Young said that he was “disappointed” with the terms of reference, set by current Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf, for that inquiry.

Mr Young argues that the inspector should have been asked to look at wider development issues, including the absence of plans to meet the need for new town primary schools and “the crisis of availability of affordable homes”.

“[The terms of reference] merely ask the inspector whether the plan should be approved. It will fall to the inspector to consider whether the broader planning context I have highlighted should be considered at the inquiry. 

“My submission is it should be. The more one examines the proposed development framework and tests it then major questions arise. The framework has to be judged in the context of the urban planning framework for the whole of town.”

“The proposal is simply not credible"

The past Environment Minister is also critical of JDC’s plans to create a single pedestrian crossing across Route de la Libération.

Underpass Route de la Liberation traffic.JPG

Pictured: Former Deputy John Young is critical of current plans to create pedestrian access across Route de la Libération.

He cites previous proposals to link the Waterfront with the rest of town, such as sinking the six-lane highway and building walkways over it.

He says: “The latest proposed framework abandons any reference to such infrastructure works but now asks the public to believe that relying on pedestrian crossings and different road surfaces and treatments to cross this major highway will transform drivers behaviour and create a decent environment for the new residents of this quarter and visitors. 

“It particularly will be unpleasant for people living in the new homes proposed to directly back on to the motorway. 

“Now it is a dangerous racetrack for heavy and light vehicles alike. It seems as if suddenly freed of the constraints of Jersey’s narrow roads for half a mile, drivers inhibitions go. 

“From time to time, one sees brave souls taking their lives in hand trying to cross these six lanes of fast traffic.  

“The proposal is simply not credible, government should reconsider funding infrastructure works from the underpass to the western side of Gloucester Street.”

Passing Waterfront development "would be a mistake"

Mr Young concludes his submission: “I consider that taking these wider planning considerations into account, it would be a mistake to give approval to this proposed development framework at the present time. 

“I think the Constable of St. Helier’s position on this is correct. He like me has seen Jersey’s urban policy in action for decades and recognises that this giving the framework the green light by approving this application before these wider planning issues are clarified or resolved is premature. 

“Its approval would lead very quickly to development of parts of the site, closing the door forever on solutions to the very important unresolved planning issues including those I have outlined and alternate opportunities for this area.

“I think future generations would come to regret it. We have the time to get this last area of the St. Helier Waterfront right and avoid the mistakes of the past.

"Let us not hurry it.”


Halting Waterfront plans "would jeopardise agreed housing targets"

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