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Five-year lack of action on rezoned land is ‘scandalous’

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QUESTIONS have been raised about why disused glasshouses and other brownfield sites are not being used for affordable homes, including a plot in St Ouen that was rezoned for the purpose five years ago.

Deputy Kirsten Morel

In 2014, field 785 on Rue des Cosnets in St Ouen was reclassified for use as an affordable housing site in the revised Island Plan, which governs planning strategy in Jersey. At the same time Samarès Nurseries in St Clement, a site in St Martin’s village and the De La Mare Nurseries plot in Grouville were also designated for development.

Work on those sites has since progressed, with the De La Mare Nurseries site, which provided six affordable homes for purchase and 29 units for affordable rental, having opened earlier this year, and the 200-unit development at Samarès due to be completed next year.

But five years after field 785 was reclassified, it remains undeveloped – despite growing demand for affordable homes in the Island. A design brief and public consultation for the site, which outlined that up to 22 homes could be built there, was held in 2016.

St Ouen Deputy Richard Renouf said that it was the responsibility of the site owner to progress any development plans for the land.

‘The site is in private ownership and it is for the owner to progress development plans unless we want to think of exercising compulsory purchase powers. I don’t believe we are at that stage yet,’ he said.

‘The Parish of St Ouen has previously announced its intention to bring forward proposals for a development of first-time buyer homes for people connected to the parish.

‘Field 785 would be a possible site for that development, but would depend on reaching agreement with the owner.’

Elsewhere, a proposition lodged by Senator Kristina Moore to revive a 65-unit affordable-housing scheme, known as Ville du Manoir, on an area of greenzone land in St Peter is due to be debated in the States at the end of the month.

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Deputy Kirsten Morel, a member of the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel, said that he would not support plans to build in the protected greenzone while sites like field 785 remained undeveloped.

‘It’s scandalous that there are disused glasshouse sites around the Island when we are looking for areas to develop affordable housing,’ he said.

‘Sites like this should be used before we develop anything like Ville du Manoir in St Peter. When we debate the next Island Plan [in 2021] we need to make use of as many brownfield sites as possible.

‘Land is our most precious resource in Jersey and we have to make sure we use it effectively, especially if we have glasshouses sitting empty and falling into disrepair. And I am sure that there are plenty of sites like this around the Island.’

Deputy Morel added that he had carried out some investigation into why field 785 had not yet been developed and would like to explore the issue further.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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