Recommendations from an independent planning inspector to approve plans to build a 27-unit luxury holiday village and a four-bedroom house at Tamba Park, which the Planning Minister rejected, cost over £25,400, according to new figures.
Deputy John Young, the Environment Minister, didn't agree with the conclusions of the Planning Inspector, Graham Self - who said the planning gains were enough to overcome the concerns, such as Tamba Park being in the Green Zone. The applicant, Jonathan Ruff, is now planning an appeal to the Royal Court.
Mr Ruff, the owner of Tamba Park, wanted to demolish disused glasshouses including a packing station and box-making factory and replace them with 13 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom self-catering lodges as well as four ancillary buildings.
Deputy Young said that building the holiday village "would result in serious harm to the landscape and character of this area and the envisaged environmental enhancements and tourism benefits are not enough to overcome this harm." He added that the development went against the strategic aims of the Island Plan and was in breach of the Green Zone policy, which he described as the foundation of Jersey's planning policy.
Pictured: Tamba Park is located in the Green Zone. (Google Maps).
Figures released under the FOI law reveal that the Planning Inquiry incurred a total of £25,463.20 in costs, including £18,755.95 in inspector's fees.
Peter Le Gresley, Director of Development Control, Growth, Housing and the Environment, admitted the costs, "may seem high when compared to other Inquiries." He however added: "It must be remembered that the Inspector was dealing with two planning applications at Tamba, not one. One application was for the 27 self-catering chalets and the second was for a new dwelling.
"During the Inquiry, the Inspector identified several inconsistencies in the submitted plans, which took up much of time at the Inquiry and had to be rectified. The Inquiry then had to be reconvened (after the inconsistencies had been rectified) and this led to the Inspector issuing a second report, with a resultant higher cost to the department."
Pictured: A breakdown of the costs was published after a request under the Freedom of Information law.
Commenting on the fees, Mr Ruff said that they only represented a small part of the actual costs for the Public Inquiry. "The real cost is significantly more," he told Express. "These figures do not include all the time officers from the Environment Department spent on the case."
The entrepreneur has revealed he will be appealing the decision of the Minister, describing the situation as the farce. He met his lawyers yesterday, and decided to take matters further. "My appeal is not about the decision in itself. It's about the way the decision was made. There was a conflict with the Planning Minister, who was not Minister at the time, but was conflicted in making the decision due to having attended the Inquiry and his views, which he had previously made public.
"My lawyers have looked at the evidence and the facts and think that we have a case to make. The Minister shouldn't have made the decision and didn't act appropriately."
A recent poll on the Tamba Park Facebook page showed that over 3,000 people (see above) were in favour of the development. But Mr Ruff says it didn't have a bearing on his decision to appeal. "It shows that people want this and that it shouldn't be one man making a decision. This development as the island's support, it makes you think what is this guy doing? Ultimately, as I said, my appeal is not about the decision but the circumstances in which it was made."
Before taking his case to the Royal Court, Mr Ruff has sent a letter to the Planning Department. He asked to meet with officers to discuss what alternative use he could make of the land. "So far all I have had is 'no, no, no' but there no reasoning behind it. If the appeal goes ahead, this will cost the taxpayer an awful lot, possibly over £100,000. I have told the Department what I am going to do and asked them to discuss it. I have until Tuesday to put the appeal forward so I am waiting to see if they will be in touch."
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