Esplanade tree clearance: Planning launch formal investigation

PLANNING has launched a formal investigation into the controversial clearance of trees at the Esplanade car park, the site of the proposed Jersey International Finance Centre.

Esplanade tree clearance: Planning launch formal investigation

Islanders were outraged when workers removed trees and shrubs from the area earlier this year, prompting letters to the JEP raising questions over the Jersey Development Company's actions.

Now, it has been claimed that the work was carried out in breach of the JDC's planning permit issued for building four of their multi-million-pound development.

Previously the JDC said the clearance work did not constitute construction and therefore did not breach the conditions and today the organisation's managing director, Lee Henry, restated that position.

He said: 'We weren't aware we had breached any conditions as in our view the clearance of the landscaping did not constitute construction work.

'This was landscape clearance, it wasn't heavy construction work and therefore in our view we didn't breach any conditions.'

The issue has served to intensify debate over the already controversial topic, with lobbyists Save Our Shoreline Jersey registering a formal complaint, alleging that the work was carried out outside of hours outlined in the JDC's planning permit for the scheme's first building.

They have also submitted a series of 'witness reports', including pictures, from Islanders who support the campaigners claims.

Lawyers for rival developers C Le Masurier have also seized on the topic and written to the Planning Department with wider questions about the progress of the development so far.

In their correspondence with Planning C Le Masurier's lawyers, Collas Crill, suggested that the development's underground car park, which requires a £13 million loan from the States Currency Fund, needs to be built as per the approved phasing plan submitted with the planning application for building four - the first to be constructed.

Planning confirmed they were investigating the tree clearance and the alleged breach of 'condition 18' of the permit granted for building four, but declined to comment further.

The planning permit sets out that a Construction Environmental Management Plan is needed before development begins. According to the approval that plan requires noise from work on the site to be limited to between 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday and 8 am to 1 pm on Saturdays.

In a letter to Environment Minister Steve Luce SOSJ this week said: 'We wish to complain on behalf of the many members of the public who contacted us on 9 February and asked us to investigate the tree felling and site clearance that took place over the weekend of 7/8 February 2015.

'...We have several witness reports that work was carried out after the permitted hours using heavy plant and chainsaws.'

C Le Masurier's letter to Planning asked what action was to be taken was to be taken in view of the alleged breach.

The department will now consider the allegations.

Mr Wheadon raised the centuries-old Clameur de Haro in the Royal Square in May 1971

THE clearance of trees from the Esplanade car park may have given Islanders aggrieved by the process cause to raise the Clameur de Haro.

The ancient Norman legal injunction can be employed in Jersey and Guernsey by anyone who believes they are being wronged by another in order to stop a given action.

It works like this:

  • The wronged party, before at least two witnesses and the alleged wrongdoer, crouches on one knee at the location of the offence and calls out: ‘Haro! Haro! Haro! A l'aide, mon Prince, on me fait tort. (Hear me! Hear me! Hear me! Come to my aid, my Prince, for someone does me wrong.)’

  • Following this the same person must recite the Lord’s prayer in French:

'Notre Père qui est aux cieux. Ton nom soit sanctifié. Ton règne vienne. Ta volonté soit faite sur la terre comme au ciel. Donne-nous aujourd'hui notre pain quotidien. Et nous pardonne nos offenses, comme nous pardonnons à ceux qui nous ont offensés. Et ne nous induis point en tentation, mais délivre-nous du mal.'

  • On witnessing this, the alleged offender is required to cease their activities until the matter is adjudicated in court. Failure to stop can lead to a fine being levied whether an offence was committed or not. If the offended party – the Criant – is found to have called Haro without a valid reason, they are required to pay a penalty.

Work in public has previously seen the Islanders call Haro.

The below was taken from the JEP's Temps Passé section from 1908:

AT 2.30 this afternoon, the Clameur de Haro was raised in the Royal Crescent, Don-road, by Mr. J. Mollet (Commis-au-Greffe) in the presence of Mr. F. B. Le Coq, Mr. J. P. Tocque, Mr. Ralph Mollet, etc. On Mr. Mollet's return to lunch he discovered that the branches of the tree opposite No. 9, Royal Crescent, had during the morning been lopped off by one of the proprietors of a house in the Lower Crescent, who had, it seems, received instructions to do so from the "agissant" of the proprietors of another house adjoining. Some very large branches had been cut down, and strewn about. In the interests of the proprietors of houses in the Crescent, Mr. Mollet, on returning after lunch, raised the "Clameur," falling down on one knee, removing his hat, and repeating the formal code.

In 1984 the Clameur was considered an option for stopping the flooding of Queen's Valley. A piece carried in the JEP's Temps Passé section from the year:

FEARS that opponents of the flooding of Queen's Valley may be able to disrupt work on the £12 million project once it has started, by bringing a series of court injunctions or even raising the Clameur de Haro, have caused another eight months delay in planning the new reservoir. The reservoir, the cost of which is estimated to go up £1 million a year, is still no closer to becoming a reality than when IDC agreed to purchase the necessary land compulsorily, and the States took a majority shareholding in the Jersey New Waterworks Company to safeguard the Island's supply from outside speculators. Deputy Don Filleul, president of the Public Works Committee, remains adamant that the controversial dam will eventually be built.

PLANNING has announced it is to investigate an alleged breach of the approved permit for building four of the Jersey International Finance Centre.

It is claimed, by campaigners Save Our Shoreline Jersey and others, that work to clear trees and shrubs at the Esplanade car park was carried out outside of the times permitted by the planning approval associated with the unit.

Applicants are bound to act in accordance with their planning permit and can face consequences if breaches are found to have been committed.

But how does the process work?

Compliance officers handle complaints about potential breaches and have a number of options in the course of their work.

Site inspections can be carried out to see what, or, indeed, if any, breach has occurred.

Officers work on a 'public interest' basis and if a breach is so severe – perhaps the building of an entire house without permission – those responsible can be taken to court.

In less severe instances the matter will be referred back to planning, who may issue a warning or discuss the matter with the applicant.

In cases where two or more parties are involved over a dispute, officers attempt to find a resolution suitable to all.

Where an infringement is said to be so minor, and it is deemed that public money and resources should not be used to pursue the matter, they can also decide to take no action at all.

An artist's impression of the building
  • The Jersey Development Company’s plans for the Jersey International Finance Centre on the Esplanade car park site include six new buildings.

  • Proposals were put forward in December for the third building in the scheme, which the Jersey Development Company described as ‘a clear sign’ of progress and interest in modern office space

  • To date, the organisation has secured planning permission for two large office blocks as well as the underground parking that will form part of the overall plans.

  • If approved, the latest plans would provide 69,000 square feet of office space in a building overlooking the roundabout on Route de la Libération.

  • Lee Henry, the managing director of the Jersey Development Company said that the latest planning application envisaged outdoor table tennis tables for everyone to use and that future plans would include a café.

  • Under the plans, a number of parking spaces have been relocated to unused scrubland near Jardins de la Mer while the work is carried out.

In March last year, Save our Shoreline urged States Members to back the proposition to delay one of the biggest States-led building developments in Jersey's history.

Save Our Shoreline issued a final plea to all politicians before a debate on whether progress should be halted on the Jersey Development Company's International Finance Centre, planned for the Esplanade car park.

But Members ultimately rejected the proposition lodged by Senator Alan Breckon, who had called for the six-office development to be delayed until the States had agreed on the final details of the building project.

The remodelling of the site has been in the pipeline for years as part of major changes to what is known as the Esplanade Quarter under a States-agreed masterplan for the area.

It is hoped that the six large buildings – two of which have been granted planning approval along with a 520-space underground car park – will keep Jersey's finance industry strong by offering a hub for large businesses.

But Save Our Shoreline has been campaigning for more debate about the multi-millionpound project.

In a letter sent to all States Members, Save Our Shoreline chairman Michael du Pré, asked States Members: 'Would you feel that you were acting responsibly to agree, without having a formal debate, to allowing a high-risk project which will cost in excess of £200 million to go ahead having only seen nicely drawn-up glossy architects' drawings and having been told that it will bring in millions?

Trevor Darragh: Someone's head should roll for this. A complete disregard for public opinion yet again. Disgusting rape of OUR Island.

Josephine Landon: This is a disgrace. The wildlife and trees cannot be replaced. And all for a finance centre that Jersey can't afford, isn't needed and hasn't even been approved! It just makes no sense.

Andrew Haire: So with 400 planning objections, someone has still decided to push ahead with the project? Sounds like complete arrogance on someone's part.

William Jocelyn: What happens when the finance industry leaves Jersey. I guess all these new offices will be turned into flats.

Nicki Maguire: Complete disregard for the whole planning/scrutiny process. Or was it already decided a long time ago, doing it '#TheJerseyWay'?

Harry Taylor: This is truly disgraceful. I'm lost for words especially as the pre-lets have not yet been agreed.

Loraine Stewart Scott: Disgraceful...and they wonder why we think this Island is run by back handers.

Paul Bentley: How is this being done before plans are passed? Has all the office space been pre-let? A pre-requisite to the project commencing.

Jeff Hathaway: This is wrong, so very wrong, for all the many reasons others have posted here. A complete disregard for Planning Laws and processes, that from a government quango is utterly shameful and insulting.

Willy Nieuwburg: Where are the waterproof contracts signed by finance tenants the JDC are supposed to have before starting ANY work on this project using tax payer's money? Is the JDC now a loose cannon and therefore out of control?

Fly Maybe: Must be trying to pull up all the cover before the birds start nesting so they don't get delayed until after spring.

Jenna Cartwright: What will happen to all the rabbits living there?

Martin Brennan: Why oh why do we need another finance centre. There is plenty of empty office blocks so what do these idiots in the states do build more, but we will be told that Jersey needs this .... NO we don't! Wasting tax payers money again.

Melanie Luce: Trees are necessary for us all to breath. Yet there appears to be a war against them in Jersey. The only tree left standing soon will be the silly-sited bronze tree by the Radisson. St Helier is literally suffocating under the concrete. I don't know anyone who wants this development. Apart from the Members of the Chamber is there anyone? At least they have to live with the responsibility of removing what had become a beautiful and peaceful area of St Helier. I thought the Island was committed to environmental issues. Trees are necessary, open spaces needed, concrete isn't a good alternative.

Sue Rodgers: Probably paid an expert from the UK to come and tell them it should be done, that's what usually happens isn't it? Total disregard for the opinions of the people, and the laws that the States put in place themselves.

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