Planning policies to limit development in the countryside is making it “gentrified” and impossible for young people to live there, inspectors were told on the first day of a key examination of the next Island Plan.
Allowing more hamlets to develop in the rural parishes would reduce the demand for large agricultural fields to become sites for affordable homes, they heard.
These views were expressed by independent planning consultant Stephanie Steedman, who argued that small parcels of land could be rezoned for development, with strict planning obligations.
This would allow people to stay within their communities, and could involve the conversion of barns and other farm outbuildings into accommodation.
Ms Steedman was invited to make her comments at the opening session of the two-week ‘examination in public’ of the next Island Plan, which will be the rulebook defining all planning decisions from 2022 until 2025.
Pictured: The Bridging Island Plan ‘examination in public’ is taking place this week at the Société Jersiaise in Pier Road.
Over this week and the final week of the month - with a week’s break for the States Assembly to sit - three independent inspectors will explore whether evidence on which the three-year 'Bridging Island Plan’ is based is adequate, asking, does the plan provides appropriate sustainable development? Is it deliverable? And does it fit into wider strategies that the Government has?
The opening session, held at the Société Jersiaise’s Members’ Room in Pier Road, was a discussion about the plan’s high-level policies.
Karin Taylor of the National Trust said that the organisation supported the Bridging Island Plan but thought that its target for new houses - making provision for up to 4,150 new homes, including 1,500 classed as ‘affordable’ - was for too many.
“We are not against new home allocations and we accept that it is an important issue but, in the National Trust’s view, the position is excessive and it should be reduced until such time more information about population is known,” she said.
“In the absence of an up-to-date population policy and uncertainty about the coronavirus and its impact on population, our concern is the plan proposes too many houses at this stage.”
Other arguments made on the first day included those from the Chamber of Commerce, who said the draft plan was deeply flawed and was an “objectors’ charter”.
Chamber said the Government should have devised a transitional plan that addressed outstanding issues in the existing plan - approved in 2011 and updated in 2014 - rather than introduce a policy “sea change” in the next edition.
Pictured: The Bridging Island Plan proposes a new strategy for development in and around Les Quennevais.
And Deputy Inna Gardiner raised concerns that development was being proposed in St. Helier, particularly around the Waterfront, without any clear plan as to where children living here would be schooled.
Concerns were also aired about the plan’s vision for Les Quennevais to become the island’s ‘secondary centre’ of development after St. Helier and what constitutes an ‘affording’ housing site.
Today, the examination-in-public continues, with the short-term Island Plan’s proposed affordable housing sites in the east of the island on the agenda.
PART 1: Strategic matters
PART 2: Housing (day 1)
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