Jersey to reclaim more land to support housing needs?

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The 2011 Island Plan – the document that sets planning policy – is due to expire next year, with a framework for the next decade set to be adopted in 2021.

And while Environment Minister John Young has said that land reclamation will not form part of the discussions for the 2021-2030 Island Plan, it could form part of the considerations beyond that.

In recent times, there has been reclamation of land at La Collette, to the west of the Albert Pier and before that at the Waterfront. A consultation launched late last year, designed to inform the Island Plan discussions, included a question about whether further land reclamation should be explored.

Deputy Young said: ‘I wanted to raise the question and I was surprised that the majority of people [who responded] thought that should receive consideration.

‘It is pretty complex and is not just about reclaiming land, as we would need to look at our Shoreline Management Strategy. We know our south coast is vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels.

‘We are looking, I think, at the long term. That will be a consideration beyond the ten years of this Island Plan. For now, it is time to look at opportunities that exist within the current land-base.’

Islanders were asked to submit potential sites for housing which could be developed. The results of that consultation are due to be published shortly.

Deputy Young continued: ‘The call for sites has had about 300 submissions from the public. There will be a huge amount of work to look at those and evaluate them. There will be an open process, but fundamental to all that is what the population assumptions are.

‘We need to know what the Island’s population will become under the various migration rates that have been speculated on.’

And the minister said he would refuse to lodge a draft Island Plan until the States had debated its population policy.

He added: ‘I believe that Jersey’s growth in population in the past decade has been completely unsustainable – in my view out of control.

‘There needs to be a States debate [on population] before I am prepared to publish the draft Island Plan.

‘I am promised that the States debate will happen before the end of this summer. It is essential that the States make that decision. If they don’t, as far as I’m concerned, the Island Plan won’t be published. The migration policy will dictate the requirements for housing and infrastructure, school, the health services.’

Deputy Young also criticised the current public sector structure, which he said had put too much political decision-making in the hands of senior civil servants, adding that there was an ‘extra layer of management and I have not seen any sign that any of that has manifested itself in improvement in the services the public receive’.

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