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Greenfield sites ‘could be built on to meet demand for houses’

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GREENFIELD sites may need to be built on during the next decade to meet the demand for housing, the Environment Minister has said.

Picture: JON GUEGAN. (26250906)

In a written response to questions posed by the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny panel, Deputy Young confirmed that recent comments made by Children and Housing Minister Sam Mézec and Grouville Constable John Le Maistre concerning the matter were accurate.

In his comments made during a Facebook Q&A session earlier this year, Senator Mézec said: ‘I don’t like the idea of it. I don’t think anyone likes the idea of building on green fields, but if our population is going up we will have to do it.’

The Objective Assessment of Housing Need survey, which was published earlier this year, concluded that 7,000 additional homes would need to be built by 2030 if current migration trends continued.

Net migration – the difference between people leaving and coming to the Island – was 1,100 last year and has now exceeded 1,000 for four consecutive years, bringing Jersey’s official population at the end of last year to a record 106,800.

The government’s long-awaited population policy has been continually postponed, with Brexit cited as the key reason for its delay, as uncertainty remains over the UK’s future immigration regime, which would probably have an impact on the Island.

The Migration Policy Development Board, which was set up by Chief Minister John Le Fondré to address the matter, is due to publish its findings and recommendations by April next year, having produced an interim report last month.

Following a recent Scrutiny session with the Environment Minister, the panel’s chairman, Constable Mike Jackson, sent a string of additional written questions to Deputy Young, including a query about the potential use of greenfield sites for housing.

His question says: ‘During a live Q&A session on Facebook, the Children and Housing Minister stated that the Island might need to build new housing on green fields.

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‘A few days before, the Constable of Grouville stated that a lack of brownfield sites may require the use of green spaces. Do you expect the criteria for new builds on these sites to change in order to accommodate a larger population as part of the Island Plan?

‘If so, what role will you have in reshaping how green zones/fields can be used?’

The minister’s response says that rezoning of green fields could be considered in the next Island Plan, which is due to be published next year and be debated in 2021.

‘The new Island Plan will have to address where and how the Island’s development needs for the next ten years can be met, which might include the use of some green fields,’ it says. ‘A range of potential options for the new plan’s spatial strategy have been set out as part of the Island Plan Review Strategic Issues and Options consultation, the outcome of which will be published soon.

‘It is my responsibility, as Environment Minister, to bring forward a draft Island Plan. However, it is the States Assembly which will ultimately approve the content of the policies and proposals within it.’

Jersey’s population has risen by 11,400 during the past decade.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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