Deputy John Young felt “sick to his stomach” in bringing to the States Assembly a list of green field sites he was seeking to have re-zoned for housing development. I shared his discomfort.
His role is impossible.
As Planning Minister, he has the responsibility of protecting the countryside and the responsibility also of identifying sites needed for essential housing development. The outcome of the States’ debates is inevitable failure; failure to properly protect the countryside and failure to rezone enough new sites for development. Every decision made is a failure, in one respect or the other.
I sincerely hope that, in Jersey, no further sites suitable for agriculture will be given up for housing development (other than a few sites close to Parish amenities that Constables may put forward for Parish-supported schemes and which may deserve a sympathetic response). There has to be another way.
Pictured: John Young's job is "impossible", according to Michael Van Neste.
Towns are where people gather together to live and to work. That is their function. The Island needs thousands of new homes. The Town is the place for them. So where is the Plan to provide all the essential sites? Where is the will to facilitate and drive a transformation of the town of St. Helier?
Something has to change. Protection of the countryside is now a given; a good thing too. People are content to live in properly organised urban environments, close to shops, schools, health facilities, entertainment and restaurants, without the need for a daily commute to work. The Town is the place.
So where are the sites? The States can provide a few and may eventually be persuaded to reluctantly yield them up to the housing providers. That would make a short-term and one-off partial solution. What about the long-term?
I say this again; something has to change.
It cannot be in the countryside, so it has to be in the Town. Sorry about that, all you protectionists, who want everything to remain the same, for your whole lifetime. Did you get that? Something has to change and logic dictates that it has to be in the Town, where people should come first, not a hopelessly unsustainable determination that nothing should change, ever.
The Town is the place. It is not there to please and delight an elitist, effete and whimsical intelligentsia in their contemplation of our unique and world-beating buildings of historical importance. If the Town does achieve that admirable entertainment in any way, it is a by-product, an unintended bonus for those with that finely tuned eye that see beauty in squalor and can turn their well-clothed backs on the desire of ordinary people to have somewhere decent to live.
The only other option is that nothing can change.
That is the option that we live with right now and we all know the results. Immigration and population control are meted out as the solution to enable this option. Sorry, that is head in sand territory. If it were possible to control population numbers, and control was exercised, there would still be a need for thousands of new homes, now, today. Just look at house prices and rentals.
Of course, some good people will be outraged by these sentiments. It is a good thing to protect the countryside and a good thing to protect old buildings, so we are told. People like to feel they stand up for good. So hundreds of undeserving and tired buildings, largely unfit for purpose, the result of unplanned and haphazard development, have been listed in a conspiracy to keep everything the same, regardless of the harm it causes. It is easier for those in authority to ignore the proddings of common sense and to go along with good intentions of apparently well-informed custodians of our “heritage”.
Something has to change, big time.