Men hit by encroachment ‘cash collection’ to seek legal advice

TWO Islanders forced to pay a total of more than £60,000 because their properties encroached on the foreshore are to take legal advice following a States decision to reverse the government’s approach to historical land infringements.

Houses overlooking the beach with steps to the shore at Le Bourg. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30352517)
Houses overlooking the beach with steps to the shore at Le Bourg. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30352517)

Following the gift of the foreshore to the Island by the Crown in 2015, the government’s property department began to levy charges retrospectively on some home owners who were said to be encroaching on public land with steps or other access to the beach. Previously such encroachments had been tolerated by the Crown.

Julian Mallinson, who paid £25,725 in charges and fees, said he was delighted by the decision and confirmed that he would now explore options to recover the payment. ‘It’s confirmation that one should fight against injustice – even against seemingly insurmountable odds, and a vindication of what I have always believed,’ he said.

Alan Luce, who was charged £34,387, said that he was pleased the matter was now being conducted ‘in the daylight rather than in the shadows’, and he expressed his gratitude to Deputy Carolyn Labey, whose revised policy was adopted by the States in preference to one tabled by Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis.

Mr Luce said that the approach taken by Jersey Property Holdings had cost him far more than just what he paid to the government, as he had been forced to accept a reduced sale price for his property while the controversy unfolded.

‘The minister kept on saying that this was not a cash collection but that’s exactly what it was. We are now going to see how the minister moves it forward. He’s in a very difficult situation, but he hasn’t helped himself. He stuck to the party line. I am now going to write to [Advocate] John Kelleher to pass it on to him,’ he said.

Under the new foreshore policy, devised following an amendment by Deputy Labey and approved in the States this week, only those Islanders whose encroachments were ‘interfering’ could be liable to contribute to the cost of their removal if they were made before the land was transferred by the Crown to the States.

Deputy Carolyn Labey. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30359076)

What the policy describes as ‘minor encroachments’ from this period will be permitted to remain and those which are not minor but which do not interfere will be allowed to remain under ‘reasonable conditions’.

Deputy Labey said that she was relieved that the matter, which she said had been like ‘pulling teeth’, was now over.

‘This has been on my desk for four years and we have now reached the stage where we’ve got a coherent policy in place where people can have a better understanding of where they stand.

‘When the [Infrastructure] minister took office, I advised him of the situation and suggested that he should look into the matter and try to reach some kind of resolution. Now we have finally reached a conclusion,’ she said.

She added that she had been forced to devise her own policy because the minister’s policy did not, in her view, advance the situation for Islanders.

‘As far as the two individuals are concerned, they will have to take legal advice, but my policy is clear. The date I am using for historic encroachments is the date on which we were gifted the land,’ she explained.

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