Plans to build a 27-unit luxury holiday village, and a four-bedroom house at Tamba Park, have been kicked out by the Environment Minister, who argues they will seriously "harm the landscape and character of the area" - but the man behind the plans says he will not go down without a fight.
An independent planning inspector had recommended that both applications be approved as, on balance, the public interest planning gains were enough to overcome the concerns, including the fact that Tamba Park is in the Green Zone, where there is a general presumption against development.
The Environment Minister, Deputy John Young, did not agree with the inspector’s conclusion. He said: “Building a 27-unit 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.
“This development also contravenes the strategic aims of the Island Plan, which seek to locate development in sustainable locations. If approved, it could set a precedent for other proposals in the countryside which go against our agreed Island Plan policy.”
Pictured: Deputy John Young, the Environment Minister, said the applications would result in "serious harm to the landscape and character of this area."
The owner of Tamba Park, Jonathan Ruff, had submitted plans to transform a part of the dinosaur park, which is situated on the border between St. Lawrence and St. Mary, into a holiday village. He 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.
The planning application also included constructing 228 new car parking spaces for Tamba Park and the holiday homes and widening ‘La Rue de la Frontiere’ to accommodate increased traffic in the area.
Mr Ruff told Express he was very shocked his application had been completely rejected. “I was expecting them to come back and say ‘if you do this and you do that, we will approve it.’ But they haven’t mentioned any conditions, they have just said ‘no we don’t want that.’ What I was trying to do, it’s a good thing, not a bad thing. It was the wrong decision.”
Pictured: Jonathan Ruff didn't expect the Minister to reject his application completely.
Speaking about the comments made by Deputy Young, Mr Ruff described them as "full of nonsense."
“He says that we haven’t tried to find another agriculture use for the fields. Well we have, it was advertised and advertised. I spoke to every farmer, people don’t want them.
“The other thing I thought was really stupid is that the Minister put in that Jersey doesn’t need any more self-catering units. He mentions that some apartments have closed down previously after becoming self-catering. But he misses the point completely: turning a few flats into self-catering is quite different to creating a whole self-catering resort. There is clearly a need for self-catering. This just shows how those people are not in touch with reality.”
“The whole issue is about how the decision was made. It’s all been a bit of a mess,” added Mr Ruff. He said that Deputy Young was clearly conflicted when making his decision having attended the Planning Inquiry. Mr Ruff says Planning Ministers are not allowed to attend those meetings.
“Also I found a post from him on Facebook from six months ago where he said it should never be allowed and that he hated the idea of the application," he continued. "He had already declared his decision even before he had to. Deputy Young was the wrong person to make that decision. He should have recognised he was in breach and stepped aside.”
Pictured: Independent Planning Inspector Graham Self (centre) recommended the applications be approved.
Mr Ruff also said that the new Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, attended the inquiry. “He sat on the side of the neighbours who were against my application. There is a massive conflict! It makes you think if he has had a discussion with Deputy Young about it? Why were the both of them there? They were not independent, to me it was rich neighbours who didn’t want the application telling the Deputy and Minister what to do.”
However, the entrepreneur is refusing to go down without a fight. “There is no way I am leaving it! If I asked all islanders, ‘Do you want that?’ and they said 'no', I would leave it. But the feedback I had from everybody I met, even people I didn’t know, is that people want this. They want more places to go to. What those elected people have done is do the exact opposite of what people want.
“Ultimately, this is about fairness. Is this right that people are making a decision when they are obviously conflicted? It’s the same in Court, it’s about what’s right and what’s wrong. I want those people to know that you can’t make the wrong decision and get away with it.”
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