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REJECTED: Plans for multi-million Waterfront revamp

REJECTED: Plans for multi-million Waterfront revamp

Wednesday 27 September 2023

REJECTED: Plans for multi-million Waterfront revamp

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Plans for a multi-million redevelopment of the Waterfront – which would have included around 1,000 homes – have been thrown out amid concerns from Environment Ministers past and present that it was not the "exemplar" the island needs.

An application to develop a large area of reclaimed land – from Aquasplash to West Park – was submitted by the public-backed Jersey Development Company last year.

It involved building close to a 1,000 homes as well as a new leisure complex, arthouse cinema, parks, a lido pool, restaurants, bars and new slipway.

The application was assessed by an independent planning inspector at a public inquiry in May, who recommended that the application could not be accepted in its current form.

Waterfront JDC.png

Pictured: An illustrative view of the proposed arthouse cinema and 'cycle hub'.

That recommendation was made to a panel of politicians – comprising Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf, Assistant Environment Minister Hilary Jeune and Planning Committee Chair Philip Le Sueur – who have now made an official, and unanimous, decision.

Development "needs to be an exemplar"

Deputy Renouf said: “This development is of huge significance for our island and its residents. Therefore, it needs to be an exemplar. The Determining Panel believes the Waterfront is an opportunity to achieve something special in terms of urban design, public realm, and sustainable transport.

"However, the current application fails to meet the required standard."

Waterfront 850x500.jpg

Pictured: The plans were a major redevelopment of the St Helier Waterfront.

He continued: “I wish to thank the independent inspector for his work in holding the public inquiry and for producing an exceptionally thorough and clear report. I would also like to thank all those who contributed to the public inquiry which fed into the report.”

The inspector’s report – the full version of which is yet to be made public – recommended that the planning application should not be accepted in its current form. 

It further recommended that the application should remain open to allow the applicant to make adjustments, leading to a second ‘mini planning inquiry’.

The Determining Panel agreed the application should not be accepted but added that there are too many areas of the application which require significant changes and therefore decided not to leave the application open for adjustments. This means a new application will need to be submitted.

Why was it refused?

The key reasons for refusal were:

  • The proposed development would fail to achieve the community expectation of reconnection between St Helier and the Waterfront.

  • The application does not demonstrate how it will achieve good quality housing and living conditions. Most of the proposed flats are likely to be single aspect, many would be facing a noisy road and some would have poor aspects due to facing tall buildings at close proximity.

  • The application provides insufficient improvements to La Route de la Liberation, leaving a largely untamed highway that separates the waterfront from the rest of town.

  • The proposed development involves substantial excavation to create basement areas for parking and servicing. This would produce contaminated waste for which there is no satisfactory waste management solution.

  • The proposed level of affordable housing represents a low level of provision.

"Obviously disappointed"

Following this morning's confirmation of the rejection, the Jersey Development Company said it was "obviously disappointed".

It added in a statement: "The planning application was submitted following planning guidance from the planning department and substantial engagement with the public.

"JDC will await receipt of the inspector's report and the decision notice of the Minister's panel then review and consider our next steps."

"Miles away from the original vision"

Former Environment Minister John Young, who spoke against the development at the planning inquiry and said that passing the plans would be a "mistake", said he was not at all surprised that the application had been refused.

John Young.jpg

Pictured: Former Environment Minster John Young said it would have been "gross overdevelopment" of the area.

"This application was a gross over-development of the area and would have been created Horizon-by-the-Road," he said. "The problem is, the remit of SoJDC is fundamentally flawed. This issue will not be solved by a piecemeal approach, so the Minister is absolutely right to reject this application in its entirety.

"The approach being taken was miles away from the original vision for the Waterfront.

"If the Government recognised the need for investment in public infrastructure itself, we would not need to tolerate overdevelopment such as this."

Reform Jersey leader Deputy Sam Mézec echoed the sentiment, saying he felt that the plans were "never suitable".

He called on the Government to provide "direction so we can end up with a Waterfront to be proud of".

Follow Express for updates...


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