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Review of ‘boring’ Waterfront Masterplan

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THE Waterfront is ‘high on the agenda’ and a public consultation will soon be launched, the Environment Minister has said amid criticism for not making his views clearer on the plans for the area sooner.

Deputy Steve Luce

Environment Minister Steve Luce said during a Chamber of Commerce lunch this week that the current masterplan for the Waterfront was ‘boring’ and ‘too prescriptive’.

However, he has faced criticism from Jersey Action Group vice-chairman John Baker, who has regularly campaigned against the Jersey International Finance Centre, for not addressing the issue of the Waterfront Masterplan sooner.

Mr Baker said he was ‘shocked’ at how the minister had ‘changed his tune’ about the plan and added that he should have done more to address the concerns about the Waterfront last year when an independent planning inspector from the UK first reviewed the masterplan.

‘Surely if he had these thoughts he should have said something when the masterplan review was decided upon a year ago,’ Mr Baker said.

‘He should not have let the JDC continue with the piecemeal development which they have done.

‘UK planning inspector Philip Staddon came over in March 2016 and said that the masterplan needed to be updated. It took until September 2016 for Deputy Luce to decide that he was correct.

‘At the time he made no comment as to what his views were. His views [during the Chamber lunch when he announced he intended to run in the next election] seem to be personal rather than those of Planning. If he had those thoughts he should have presented them to the public and Planning at the time.’

However, while Deputy Luce admitted that his speech expressed his ‘personal views’ he said that a review of the Waterfront Masterplan had been on the department’s agenda for a number of months.

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He added that he hoped to be able to bring a revised plan to the States in the early stages of next year, with the hope of having the new proposals for the area in place before the May 2018 election.

He said: ‘Of course it has been high on the agenda. We kicked off this review some months ago and this was the first opportunity I had to comment on that review.

‘We will now be going out to public consultation to get further thoughts on what we should do with the area.

‘My views are that we have a current masterplan that is very prescriptive. We have one office block there which is a top-quality space but the rest of the masterplan is very similar and from my personal point of view do we need more of the same or do we want something that is a little bit more different?

‘I believe the whole area around the Waterfront can be great but I think we can be a bit more imaginative. There are options for residential and hospitality buildings – I would love to think we can have some sort of cultural aspect there.’

He added that one of the key issues that needed addressing was the transport and road connections and how the Esplanade office block would fit in with the surrounding area.

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