Ditched: £75m building project in town centre

DEVELOPERS have axed a £75 million project that would have rejuvenated parts of St Helier, saying that Jersey’s Planning department are to blame.

Le Masurier's managing director Brian McCarthy and group property director,  Ben Ludlam at the site
Le Masurier's managing director Brian McCarthy and group property director, Ben Ludlam at the site

DEVELOPERS have axed a £75 million project that would have rejuvenated parts of St Helier, saying that Jersey’s Planning department are to blame.

Le Masurier have pulled plans to build Parkside Village, a residential and retail development, because they feel let down by planners.

The scheme was due to be built on land in between Bath Street, Rue de Funchal and the old Odeon cinema site and included homes, shops and restaurants.

However, earlier this month the company received rewritten supplementary guidance from the Planning department, which they say makes the project unviable.

The news has astonished Planning chief executive Andy Scate, however, who said: 'I’m amazed the company has chosen not to proceed. I think they fundamentally misunderstand the planning process.'

Comments for: "Ditched: £75m building project in town centre"

peter price

This area really needs new ideas so I for 1 am disappointed that nothing will be changed

St Ouen

If the planning process is along the same lines of all the States processes it is impossible to understand as the States seem to make it all up as they go along!

Another blinder from the SOJ

Kermit

I think everybody fundamentally misunderstand the planning process when they get a refusal.

Which seems to be a lot of people.

Well done planning, again, we just hold on a bit more to the ghost town .

75 millions investment in fine air. What can possibly be worst than what s there now anyway...

Moses

It's just an exuse, It has nothing to do with planning. A couple of years ago people would be begging for this site but it's not worth investing now unless they drop the price. Why invest in something and 50% of the units are empty??????????

Mrs B

Drop the price? They own the site and have done so for a long, long time. It's over 40 years since their offices there burnt down. So how exactly do they drop the price? They're not selling it.

Charles N

But they still have to pay to get what they want, just because you have a site doesn't mean you can do what you like

pp

Rue de Funchal? Do they mean Minden street?

Jez

do you mean James Street?

Derry

Yes, James Street is the name, except in the eyes of a few people at some obscure parish assembly.

R. Williams

More interference by planning into what seemed to be an attractive project. I get the impression that the planning department feel they need to enforce an alteration to whatever plan, large or small, is put forward, to justify their existence. Plus it increases the fees the developer has to pay to the department since the 'user pays' (twice) idea came into being, which may be the real reason for so many alterations. They should remember that they are civil servants and get paid no matter how many plans they pass and how many they amend or refuse.

Bean Abroad

The real question, unanswered by this article, is was the development considered too big for the space concerned, or are planning being too overbearing? Are the developers trying to squeeze too much onto the site? Who is the party being unreasonale?

Benny La Motta

No its not too big. There were no objections either by Planning or any of the nearby residents or members of the public who sent in comments. Not one single complaint. They all supported the scheme. Then without consultation planning said they wanted something different.

Nice one Planning! Muppets.

Jerry Gosselin

Benny La Motta- the argument that no complaints were apparently made by nearby residents cuts absolutely no ice in a mainly commercial town centre environment like this. Having lived in such an environment myself two decades ago, I know that residents are very often not consulted when nearby businesses are lobbying government for changes. Another key factor is the demographic profile of those who are likely to be living in flats located above shops in the area. They are more likely to be either young foreign nationals or young Jersey residents, probably under 25 years of age, who can't afford better accommodation and are working lots of hours. Both these groups of people are very unlikely to engage in a political consultation process even if you did actually bother to inform them about it.

MikB

The entire island was consulted on this one, it wasn't exactly low profile either.

If no complaints were received I would be pretty safe in assuming there wasn't anyone in the area who felt strongly against the development.

And if people did have objections but didn't respond they would have no-one to blame but themselves.

The Enforcer

I am sure there are two sides to this story but given planning's attitude and obstructive behaviour on one of my projects why would anyone even look to put forward a planning application in Jersey.

Chos

I hear you Enforcer. So if I'm a planning officer and the number of applications is falling in the island, I might be concerned for my job. What better way to prove my worth and protect my job than being opaque and knock back a host of applications, thereby keeping myself employed and with no recourse to anyone. The sooner Planning provide some clarity to the process the better for applicants but you may be waiting some time! Sadly, the application process also suits architects as they are on the whole benefitting from the adjustments made to the applications, as well as the initial application itself.

PJK

Massive blow,would have kept some builders going for a long time.

Slawek

"I think they fundamentally misunderstand the planning process."

It seems that lots of developers and even ordinary people struggle to understand the planning process.

What wrong then? Developers and ordinary people trying to do something, anything with their own houses, or rather the planninng process ?

Norm

I haven't been on the Island for a year now but it's no surprise. There's no demand for retail units, there are enough empty in town + people don't have money to spend (I'm sure even more than a year ago). The site is so expensive and who can or would pay a fortune for these apartments.

egalitarian

What's that got to do with the planning department's obstructive attitude?

Gulbenkian

Well, for one thing, we don't actually know that the department has been obstructive. We only have one side of the story and we don't have all of the facts.

Norm went on to suggest that the accommodation units may be too expensive for anybody to purchase (Whether that is true or not is a moot point). You then ask how that can be relevant to the planning process.

Well, one of the duties of the Planning Minister is to have regard to the amenities of the island and to other, braader, consdiderations of that nature. It follows, therefore, that replacing retail units which are presently in use with private accommodation which might (if the argument put by Norm is correct) stand unwanted and empty would be a consideration when granting an application for change of use.

Apart from the clear relevance of such a thing to the plannng process, it is also clear that the Minister would fall into error if he failed to consider such a factor.

A

I am sure that Andy Scate is amazed and blames the company for fundamentally misunderstanding the planning process. Obviously neither he nor our Government could be blamed for this monumental 'cock up'. It's always the end user who is wrong! Time to wake up Gorst, Bailhache, Duhamel et al; this Island is falling apart at the seams. Overrule Planning and authorise this development now; there still may be time to save this excellent proposal?

Sanity

How much longer can we put up with the current well intentioned yet hopelessly out of their depth politicians and the incompetent, bungling yet very highly paid Civil Servants on whom they depend. Whilst I am sure that there will follow a lot of very rude comments about politicians that ignore totally that is US as voters who both set the reward package and through elections appoint the politicians upon whose experience and ability our wellbeing relies.

Jersey people have a reputation of being very careful with money but unless we change our attitude towards politics and open our eyes that in electing a politician we are charging that person with the responsibility for billions of pounds of OUR money and as in business, set a reward package that attracts the best, then this is, and will continue to be the ongoing result. Only now that we have a declining finance industry there is no financial cushion between us and this incompetence and hence higher taxes, lower benefits and services are the natural result.

Someone

" ‘I’m amazed the company has chosen not to proceed. I think they fundamentally misunderstand the planning process.’ "

No no, they understood it perfectly! Don't waste time and money litigating your department.

Warren J

Its only 42 years since their

Bonded Warehouse went up in smoke - This site will remain in its current state for a few more decades.

Well done planning ! You really need to wake up and smell the coffee !

the thin wallet

i remember seeing the flames licking up from great union road on the second floor of my parents home.

and all the wine lodge shops back in the day, selection 13 wine le mas had a lot of own label booze .

and some think we drink too much these days? the island was awash with drink in that time .

as a kid it was always a bottle of selection 13 discarded in the hedge/park.

R B Bougourd

Now you're talking, TW. Those were the days, eh? Selection 13°, Grand Aymon, Vautier's Vin Ordinaire... Great stuff for soothing the teenage throat after a drag on a Grand Prix or a Mélange in a damp German bunker. No need to waste time and money on beer!

I only moved on from those tipples after venturing a few leagues east and discovering Dom Josué and Les Vieux Papes. Probably both long gone from the shelves. Nowadays Baron St Jean does my palate and wallet fine. Gave the Gauloises a miss, thankfully, as I'd already given up by the age of fifteen.

Is the Wine Lodge still around?

Mogit

Isn't it strange, no matter what States department you deal with, any incorrect information passed on is never their fault, whether dealing with I.Tax, Social, Planning they will NEVER admit they got it wrong !!! it must be wonderful to be 100% correct all the time !!!

the thin wallet

doubt le masurier's dont understand the planning process.

i will guess its the retention of tumble down old rubbish.

the granite frontage is a land mark and the corner coffee shop, as for the rest , flatten it.

plagne

Look what a mess the States are making of this area.

First they set up a Waterfront cinema in competition to the Odeon. Odeon stops and the stupid proerty is protected when the front can only be seen when one is lowered by a helicopter.

Now this. Time to move to Guernsey where they do not allow Dandara to do Portelet stlye developments.

R B Bougourd

'Time to move to Guernsey where they do not allow Dandara to do Portelet (stile) developments'

Guernsey reminds me of how Jersey used to be.

If a reciprocal agreement on residence existed between the islands, quite a few would move there from Jersey.

Also, anyone from Guernsey who is hell bent on growth at any cost could come and live in Jersey, leaving Guernsey unspoilt for those who appreciate the better things in life.

D De Jersey

Ahem..

Swimming in their own sewage when the stink from the landfill at the ever growing Mont Cuet gets too much.

Planning and development of the built environment should be a well reasoned balance, economic, hygenic and sentimental, just because Guernsey are still living in the 19th Century doesn't mean they have it right.

Scarlett

Ahem...!

I have lived in both islands, and the Dickensian disposal of our waste aside (that being as incredibly offensive to many over here as it is to you, I can assure you), thank god we haven't 'kept up' with your oh so progressive take on things, Mr De Jersey, or our lovely island would look, as Jersey increasingly does, like the UK.

Well done you for selling your heritage down the river, destroying your seafront and pretty much obliterating Jersey's true nature under a sea of concrete, leaving the bits only the rich can afford unspoiled, but whilst Jersey sinks underneath the weight of concrete, overpopulation and unemployment, with disillusioned locals leaving in droves, we peasants over here are doing a darned site better, and coincidentally, your States suddenly want to buddy up with us.

your island is, as they say over here, futu, and thanks to the perfect example Jersey has given us of where we'd be in 30 years time or less, if we followed your lead, we'll avoid going down your route at all costs, thanks.

D de Jersey

OK. Apart from the land fill and the brown, jetsam covered beach your island is beautiful. I get it.

The story here was about a regeneration project that was dragged out by our overstaffed planning dept. and has now left a whole area of asbestos riddled late 20th century "heritage" we could all do without.

I admire your defending your island with such passion, you have your road to follow and we have ours.

Jez

The developers just got cold feet on this one and they're trying to blame the planning department. They're already coining it in from renting out their car parking spaces.

Overpopulated

I would suggest that unlike our glorious government, le Masuriers are financially astute.

They are not stupid enough to spend £75m when there is unlikely to be any return. The housing market is dead and there are plenty of shops and offices to let out there.

Realist

I think economic viability in the present conditions of uncertainty on the survival of our finance industry are a more likely scenario for Le Masurier's withdrawal. It's easier though to blame the planning department to save face!

Andy le marrec

How about the developer got "cold feet" far too easy to blame planning. More retail on the wrong side of town. If there was a seriou demand would they have pulled out ?.

Kyle

Exactly, why invest in something that has no future.

The future

We have a planning dept which is slowly turning St Helier into a post apocalyptic wast land of derelict buildings sitting next to the eyesores built by the states themselves.

I understand there has to be some building control but to apply such a high planning standard that, the Old brewery, The Odeon and now the Le Masuriers site lie derelict indefinitely is killing our economy and environment.

The heart of St Helier is becoming a second class ghetto of derelict buildings where the poorest third of Jersey residents live next to the parking spaces and well maintained office blocks used by the other two thirds.

This terrible lack of planning permission also limits the number of shop fronts in St Helier helping maintain the ridiculously high rents and preventing small businesses investing in St Helier and creating jobs.

We need a planning dept that makes sure things get built not makes sure nothing gets built.

David

Sounds a bit simplistic, really.

the future

Actually really simple

Sue Ellen

Not really, because you don't know all the facts. It is easy and not very clever to take a simplistic view and to believe everything that you are told. Governments like people like you!

Art Lelai

Well hang on if they allowed development IN town, how can they force us to the Waterfront?

Understand the motives, they want town closed and the Waterfront opened.

They want to be the landlords collecting the rents, not the Clark family.

They need that money or how can they continue to waste more and more each year on ever more increasingly pointless things?

Brian Jacks

Le Masurier are a highly professional and succesful company. They are also financially independent and are able to build without the need for bank borrowing. They have done everything the Planning Department has asked for, incurred millions in costs and have the wider interests of the community at heart. They also received full public support for their scheme, not a single complaint, and would have invested the capital build costs with local companies. They also have skills and training initiatives set up to support young people and would have provided a huge boost to the Island as a whole and the residents of the area.

Duhamel needs to quickly sort this out. Issue an apology and ask a few of those highly paid civil servants to step aside.

If he doesn't then the COM should. It's that simple.

The future

Yes yes, let's try and change our planning dept to a dept that gets companies investing in St Helier. It needs to be a dept that facilitates acceptable standards of construction, that actively contributes to and supports the planning process, especially in this run down area.

Back to the future

Let's have a planning department that says "yes, yes yes" to all the developers- as long as it isn't next door to you, of course! :)

The future

I live very near the site and along with most of my neighbours wish that development had gone ahead.

Frank

Such altruism! :)

Tina

Well, not really.

B

This is just typical of States Departments !

This would have brought investment, jobs and a new lease of life to a run-down area.

If Andy Scate is stating that the developers didn't understand something then surely it's the role of the planning department to guide them through things and provide support?

Anyone trying to do anything positive in this island, whether it's music events or other positive things face nothing but hurdles !

Sensible

Let's not forget that we don't all the facts here.

What we are being permitted to see is something which has been stage managed before the media by this wealthy company. It looks a little like emotional blackmail from the face of the report.

The future

You can't dress up the fact that 75 million has been lost. That the site will remain derelict indefinitely and a government dept has been accused of obstructing investment and reconstruction in the heart of St Helier.

Sensible

I wasn't trying to dress up anything. Let's examine your post.

1. The site will remain derelict indefinitely.

Well, I understand that permission was granted some time ago for a development on the siate. So, if it remains derelict, then that must be the decision of the developer.

Furthermore, the tactic of allowing a site to remain derelict just because a developer has an axe to grind may lead to one of two things. The first will be compulsory purchase. The alternative will be the service of a dereliction notice by the Planning Minister. Failure to comply will enable the Minister to clear the site and bill the developer for the work.

2. The department has been accused of obtructing investment and development in the heart of St Helier.

Well, yes, it has been accused. But, read my post again. I say that we do not know all of the facts as indeed we do not. Accusations of one thing. Possession of the facts is quite another.

As an end note, I am not sure where £75 million has been lost or who has lost it. I would not imagine that the proposed development would entail a gift of £75 million to the public. Perhaps I incorrect and we have a philantropist in our midst! :)

the future

The site will remain derelict indefinitely, quoting a possible cause and trying to blame the developer does not change that fact.

We will never know all the facts so we have to discus the facts we have.

75 Million is being spent elsewhere, if you do not consider that to be lost it has certainly been re assigned to another place which will benefit from a £75 million economic injection.

Imagining a philanthropist might give Jersey 75 million is exactly the kind of thing that gets us in this ridiculous position in the first place.

zzub

Fact? £75 Million Lost?

Very strong words there!

They decided to test the water and submit nothing more than a speculative application. No doubt the "developers" on the island will have provided Le Masurier's with a "free" valuation of the site- all for the price of a Planning Fee.

Oops. "Sorry boys. Things dont really stack up as the site is at the wrong end of a dying town and worth nowt...Oh and we have so much unsold stock on our books already down at the other end of town that we are running out of cash"

Lets blame the planners! or better still Marco Pierre White!

Ask yourself where this £75 Million figure came from and if the site had gone ahead who would be paying it before bemoaning its loss.

Sensible

Well, Future, you were the one who claimed that "£75 million had been lost". The off the cuff reference to philanthropy followed from your naive and dramatised comment to that end.

It will be interesting to see if the developer does deliberately and wilfully leave the site derelict as you predict. The hope in that instance would be that a dereliction notice would be served as soon as possible.

Discusssing the facts that we have is fine, provided that you do not believe everything that you read in the newspaper, as you would appear to have done in this case.

The Darkside

It's the planning department who misunderstand the planning process, Mr Scate. You and your sheep take your own views on the island plan and other associated supplementary guidance as you go along resulting in planner designed developments, whether it be domestic ir commercial that are unfeasable for anyone to build.

Unless you are Naish Waddington (maybe just Waddington now!) or Dandara, you may as well ask the planning department to put together plans for your development because that's what they think they are there for!!

Pip Clement

Planning cannot be that obstructive as there are currently 1600 sites for housing and 2,000,000 sq ft of offices and industrial buildings approved but not being built on.

I know of many sites that are currently growing weeds or are being used as dumps.

If Planning approves more it will just add to the never to be built back log! :-(

COM-Mentator

More like sour grapes from Le Masurier as they suddenly realised that the apartments wouldn't sell with the housing market currently awash with them - therefore profit might not be so forthcoming.

Good on planning if they did put the brakes on another oversized monstrosity, maybe a more realistic and less grandiose scheme in the area would complement the park.

Mario

So I take it we can expect a stop to all other oversized developments then COM?

Mrs B

So Le Masurier suffer from "sour grapes" and then decide to put it on the front of the JEP instead of just letting the project wimper and die?

No, I don't think so.

Planning and Mr. D. - get your act sorted out.

Mary Ann

They had a "hissy fit".

COM-Mentator

Easy for Le Masurier to blame the chaotic planning process than admit there is no altruistic reason for the development i.e. improving the area other than their greed.

There are too many apartments lying empty in the island and planning are right to put restrictions on further developments of this type if un needed. The development for greed rather than need is over.

A big well done to planning to stopping the rape and desecration of our once beautiful island.

the future

The desecration of the derelict car park ?

Altruistic companies ?

We are all aware it is an eyesore which a company want to develop at a profit.

Jules

Putting up silly fences to stop people using the shortcut as they have done for years.......

I Pasdenom

Jules,

"Putting up silly fences to stop people using the shortcut as they have done for years..."

Glad to hear you don't support the National Trust for Jersey's plans for Plemont' I assume you don't have a gate or fence around your garden, and don't support any private land rights.

Leonard Raffles

@ I passitdom;

We can assume that the National Trust has put up fences to preserve conservation or to maintain public safety when they create footpaths around the cost. Did you bother to write and ask them before making your judgment?

The actions of the company in blocking off the walkway are less clear and seem to be based upon greed and its "having a paddy" over failed development proposals.

Please do think before making such ill-informed remarks.

ILS

I cannot blame le Masurier's for taking this stance but I do hope they will in time reconsider. My family have had the misfortune to deal with the Planning Department in the last few years and it has been a traumatic experience and hugely stressful for our family. Try getting a straight answer. It's nigh impossible. They won't call you back, answer emails or provide updates. Its a shambles. And even when they do respond they build in so many caveats that the advice is meaningless. And they get paid a lot of money for doing nothing more then dragging out the process, increasing your costs and generally wasting your time. It's become a farce and the whole thing needs to be broken down and re-built fit for purpose.

D De Jersey

Where is Duhamel in all of this, ever since he started in the job we've had severe failings in both environment and planning.

There are only so many times I can tolerate seeing him on TV making excuses for his department.

As Duhamel was appointed by Gorst can he get someone else in or is he and the rest of the assembly happy to watch somebody else getting kicked because it isn't them.

HOWLER

What an almighty cock up this is a company that's in for the long haul i don't think the title developer has it has become a dirty word in jersey should be attached to this company this is a company with a long history of good business practice offering value for money no quick buck for these people.

I think Andy Scate and his puppet master's have misunderstood they are dealing with a sleeping tiger that could buy and sell the lot of them and one day may be the Savior of Jersey when this lot are just a bad memory.

JerseyD

They have spent a lot of money on this, I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't completely dead but this turns out to be swipe at planning and then it's back on. Used to drink in the original wine bar and they spent a lot of money removing the listed status of that building, which is one of the islands oldest chemists, it still has the original safe in the wall and the mosaics on the floor.

fluffy

The absolute nerve of Planning saying that Le Masuriers do not understand. I looked at their proposals and quite frankly thought they would improve the area no end not to mention the jobs that would be created in the construction industry (that is assuming that the works would stay in the Island). States departments and in particular their leaders, just love to play God!

Interested onlooker

Things are tough at the moment, everyone acknowledges that. And while we don't have all the facts, everything should be done to try and get projects like this moving. The level of work it would generate and therefore wages would be a massive boost, and would flow round the econcomy many times. This would create demand for property, retail and just about everything else. Then when it was finished, there would be demand for the end product.

The only way forward is to get round a table and negociate.

As for the comment about the firm not understanding the planning process, sounds like someone needs some media trainig before coming out with comments like that.

Scully

I couldnt agree more I was utterly aghast when I read their comments. Do not understand the planning process is a get out and as a public service department they have a duty to ensure it is understood for the good of all they serve.

This really beggars belief...

Hugh

The problem is, some of these aggressive developers won't be told anything.