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Housing boost must come with ‘another Deputy seat’

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HOUSING Minister Sam Mézec has raised concerns over ongoing developments in town that could see a substantial increase in population density.

Senator Sam Mézec Picture: ROB CURRIE. (28809517)

Plans are in place for three large housing projects in the north of town – at the old Jersey Gas site, the former fulfilment retailer Play.com site and the Le Masurier development in Bath Street.

The Senator said that while housing was desperately needed, it was important not to ‘cram homes in’ without considering access to open space.

He also said that St Helier should be given an extra Deputy’s seat due to the increase in the district’s population density.

Referring to the three new developments in a tweet, Senator Mézec said: ‘On these three sites in St Helier No. 2 district, things are now under way to deliver 462 new flats.

‘What is already one of the most densely populated parts of the Island is about to become even more densely populated. St Helier No. 2 must be given another Deputy seat.’

Speaking to the JEP, he added: ‘I think that it’s absolutely fine to say that we ought to have more development in St Helier and build more homes here.

‘There’s a desperate need for homes and if St Helier can accommodate them, then that’s a good thing, but we can’t just cram homes in and not think about all the other things as well – access to open green space, the lack of a youth centre, for example.

‘It’s about looking at the bigger picture and saying if we’re allowing more homes in a certain area we’ve also got to think about amenities, open space and political representation as well.’

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Senator Mézec highlighted the potential increase in workload for St Helier representatives from an influx of residents once the developments were completed.

‘St Helier has one States Member for every 3,000 people who live here, yet St Mary has one for every 800 people who live there. That disparity is about to get worse as more people move in to St Helier because of the homes that are being built here.

‘That has to be a consideration, but for many States Members, they’ve not cared about this. They think that the current Members will just deal with the workload, and they think that because they don’t have that much of a workload themselves, working in some of the quieter parishes, and that’s not right.’

In March a proposal for a radical overhaul of the States Assembly was rejected. Senator Mézec said he believed that those proposed changes would have mitigated the problem of under-representation in parishes like St Helier.

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‘The previous proposal of electoral reform would have dealt with this issue quite nicely – it would have undone a lot of the inequity that there is in the current system.

‘That debate is over, though I suspect that in September something will come to the Assembly to enable us to have a debate on this issue again.

‘When that happens I will be making the case that St Helier can’t be left under-represented and that we have to future-proof whatever comes forward.’

James Jeune

By James Jeune
Reporter

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