A series of public meetings begin today that will influence if fields are built on, quarries are expanded, a marine national park is created, and planning applications are passed or refused.
At 10:00 today, the ‘examination in public’ of the three-year ‘bridging’ Island Plan gets underway.
Over the next three weeks, three independent planning inspectors will hear from a wide variety of islanders – residents campaigning against development, politicians, architects, wildlife and heritage groups, farmers, business organisations, utilities, housing providers and civil servants – all with a view on the direction of development in Jersey.
Although the next Island Plan has been shortened from its usual 10 years because of the pandemic, the next three-year plan – covering 2022 to 2025 – has generated a considerable amount of debate.
Over 2,000 comments were made during the first period of consultation after its publication in April and States Members lodged 60 amendments.
Pictured: The most controversial proposal to come out of the initial consultation was the plan’s support for a quarry in St. Peter‘s Valley to expand.
This is the biggest response that any Island Plan has attracted, despite covering a shorter period.
Island Plans have been the definitive blueprint of development in Jersey since the 1960s – establishing not only where building can occur and what areas should be protected but also the policies underpinning design and scale, shoreline and flood management, energy production, mineral extraction, the environment, land reclamation, retail, heritage protection, agriculture, and hospitality.
In short, it defines the foundations of a considerable amount of island life.
And even though the latest iteration is shortened, it will have a considerable influence over the one following that, which is expected to return to a decade-long outlook in 2026.
Perhaps unsurprising for such an important document, the process to approve it is lengthy, involving several periods of consultation. Even before the draft plan was published in April, it had been influenced by a series of policy reports, many written by external consultants.
These included a study of housing needs, open spaces in St. Helier, the character of St. Brelade, the Coastal National Park, and minerals, water and waste.
Pictured: The future development of Les Quennevais as Jersey’s ‘second town’ forms an important part of the Bridging Island Plan.
After the draft was released, there followed a 10-week period during which the public could record their views and politicians could lodge amendments.
The Environment Minister then fed back on these submissions, rejecting the vast majority of amendments. He also drew up a ‘Plan B’ of affordable housing sites, should his preferred sites be rejected.
Now the the draft plan, all the submissions and amendments, and the extra Plan B sites will be reviewed by the UK-based inspectors during a series of public hearings in the Members’ Room at the Société Jersiaise over two weeks.
The first week of hearings will focus on:
There will then be a week’s break for a States Assembly meeting to take place.
The second week will then focus on:
Individuals and groups have been invited to address the inspectors at these meetings, and they have also invited islanders to make submissions to them beforehand.
The hearings are open to members of the public but only those asked to make a submission can speak. Individual islanders who have asked to share their views have been invited to the plenary session on the final day.
Pictured: The inspectors will take a view on whether fields, including this organically farmed one in St. Helier, should make way for housing.
Covid measures have been put in place but all sessions will also be streamed on YouTube live HERE.
After the hearings, the three inspectors will go away and write a report for the Environment Minister, which will include recommendations on which parts of the Island Plan should stay, go or be amended.
It should be published early next year.
States Members will also get another chance to lodge amendments or amend existing ones based on those recommendations.
The Environment Minister will also lodge his own amendments to the plan, although he is not bound to accept what the inspectors say.
Finally, the States Assembly will debate the draft plan, and all the amendments, in March.
Once passed, it then becomes the reference point for significant decisions affecting Jersey for years to come, influencing other key policies including population, housing, the island’s level of self-sufficency and carbon neutrality.
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