Constable has warning about ‘urban creep’

OPEN land on the outskirts of St Helier should be given the same protection as green space in the west of the Island, the parish’s Constable has said over fears of urban sprawl.

Constable Simon Crowcroft. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (31015481)
Constable Simon Crowcroft. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (31015481)

Simon Crowcroft said he did not support the building of housing estates and retail outlets on the outskirts of the parish, adding that it was ‘essential’ that St Helier residents had access to green space.

Mr Crowcroft’s comments come after a planning application was submitted to turn the Jacksons Motor Mall site on Grande Route de St Jean into a retail site for UK homeware and furniture franchise The Range. A nearby Co-op development on the site of the former JFTU site is also well underway.

And a number of fields across St Helier – including four on Grande Route de St Jean – were listed as potential sites for affordable housing as part of the Draft Bridging Island Plan.

Road safety campaigner Hilary Jeune has also questioned the impact the plans could have on the area and called for a ‘holistic’ approach.

However, the Constable of St John – whose parish Motor Mall sits close to – has welcomed the proposals for the new retail unit.

Mr Crowcroft said the introduction of a new retail outlet and housing on the edge of St Helier could spoil the countryside.

‘We should be thinking of the outskirts as a country park, affording the same protection that green spaces in the west of the Island are given,’ he said.

‘We want to create the same sense that people who come out of Les Quennevais, into big open spaces, get.

‘Urban sprawl completely disfigures the landscape and takes away vital open space which town dwellers need access to. Urban sprawl does not achieve true urban development, as it does not reduce the need for travel.’

Mr Crowcroft also said that the creation of a retail outlet on the edge of the parish would add pressure on shops that sold similar items in the town centre.

‘Out-of-town shopping does no favours for similar shops in town. This will only add lots of extra traffic onto Grande Route de St Jean as well,’ he said.

Ms Jeune, a road safety campaigner who has called for speed limits to be reduced in Sion Village in St John, said the potential introduction of a retail outlet on the edge of the parish only further emphasised the importance of reducing speed limits in the area.

‘There will be lots more cars coming through the parish and through Sion, which is a bit concerning with the current speed limits. The [proposed] widening of the road will make it even more difficult to cross as well,’ she said.

‘There needs to be a holistic look into the communities along the road and the impact this could have on them.

‘It just adds to the problem of out-of-town shopping, especially when we have a town centre which is struggling and more and more spaces are being left empty.’

However, St John Constable Andy Jehan has welcomed the plans for the retail outlet on the border between St Helier and his parish.

‘I think this could be good for local consumers. It’s good to see investment in retail in the Island. St John has been host to large retail sites near Haute Croix for many years; we also have a very good array of shops in our local precinct that are used by parishioners and residents of neighbouring parishes,’ he said.

‘There is always a challenge in balancing our environment and development. The proposal is for an existing commercial site to be used for a different retail outlet – a good use of existing space with what appears to be sufficient customer parking.’

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