‘High-rise buildings needed to accommodate population’
HIGH-rise buildings are the answer to accommodating Jersey’s increasing population – which needs to grow – and, if built in the right areas, they will ‘not even be noticed’, a backbencher has said.
Former Environment Minister Steve Luce said he believed population growth, which is often lamented by residents, was necessary, as the size of the workforce was vital to supporting Jersey’s economy and public finances, especially as the number of elderly residents continued to increase.
The Deputy, who is now a backbencher, carries out a lot of work on economic issues and said immigrant workers were vital for many of the Island’s businesses.
‘My view has always been that the population needs to allow enough people to come so that we have the minimum amount to keep the economy working,’ he said.
‘I don’t know what that number is but I know it will fluctuate, and the moment we get to a point where we really don’t have enough people providing social-security payments, income tax, GST and so on things will go downhill.
‘There is no easy option for population policy. Every option is challenging and what we need is the least bad option. Population is a real issue for lots and lots of reasons but my view has always been that we need to grow the workforce.
‘We need expertise and we need people to do jobs that we haven’t got people in Jersey to do. We need to continue with agriculture and hospitality and we know those areas in particular have challenges with staff.’
He added that he would be in favour of a time-limited work-permit system to help provide staff for the agricultural industry.
Deputy Luce said that to accommodate more people, he thought Jersey should focus on building upwards, in particular in St Helier.
He added that, if built in the right areas, high-rise buildings would not be that conspicuous, and cited Dandara’s Westmount development as an example.
‘It’s interesting that even Prince Charles, who has been a massive advocate of environmental issues, is saying that the mansion-house-type development, which you see around London, is the best way for people to live in the future,’ he said.
‘Building upwards is the answer. People say to me that they don’t want high buildings but we have them already and you don’t see them. If you look at the new buildings at Westmount, that’s a classic example.
‘You can’t notice them – they are tucked away. So you can do it. It just needs clarity in our planning to do this. There are sites all over the place where people could do this, particularly in St Helier.’
He added that he believed the capital should accommodate most of the additional population so that residents were close to amenities and the workplace, avoiding adding to the traffic problems.