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Change in vision for south of St Helier area

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A MASTERPLAN which could have led to 11 blocks of offices, apartments, a hotel and an indoor winter garden being built on the Esplanade has been officially withdrawn by the government.

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The plans, put together by Hopkins Architects and released in November 2007, also included sinking a section of Route de la Libération and creating a 1,420-space underground car park.

However, the project became the subject of repeated delays, strong public objection and a number of revisions.

While the Esplanade Quarter Masterplan stalled, plans to build the International Finance Centre – a complex of six large offices, public areas and an underground car park – on part of the area moved ahead.

Two of the International Finance Centre’s buildings have been completed, a third has been granted planning permission and the JDC recently submitted plans for a fourth unit.

A ministerial decision, signed by Environment Minister John Young, has now officially rescinded the original Hopkins masterplan for the site.

Deputy Young yesterday announced that a new planning framework for the south of St Helier – covering an area from Jardins de la Mer to South Hill – had been adopted to replace it. ‘I am encouraging a network of linked streets and spaces for everyone to enjoy, while also providing development opportunities that help meet the Island’s needs,’ Deputy Young said.

‘This new planning framework will, though, require bold decisions. We will need to strike a balance between density and height of buildings, between competing land-uses and between the demands of motor traffic and giving pedestrians and cyclists greater priority. These decisions should be community-led in line with the guiding principles of the framework.

‘The new planning framework suggests different kinds of uses that I encourage the owners of disused or underused buildings to [explore to] rejuvenate their properties to create a vibrant new area of St Helier.’

The new framework will mean that any proposed development will require community engagement before any work begins. It has also been designed so that projects in the area support better connectivity between the region and the rest of St Helier and the masterplan no longer centres around the sinking of Route de la Libération.

The planning guidance was updated following consultation with the community, key stakeholders and the Jersey Architecture Commission, among others.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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