Deputy Russell Labey made the comments during a Scrutiny hearing, after Grouville Constable John Le Maistre asked him if the government should ‘put a stop’ to wealthy immigrants purchasing local properties and pushing up house prices.
As previously reported by the JEP, fifteen applications from high-net-worth individuals were approved in the first five months of the year – equalling the target for the whole of 2021.
Deputy Labey said: ‘Personally, I have an issue with the number of 2(1)(e) [high-value-residents] coming into the Island. I am concerned about it. I think this year alone it has exceeded 15 already. As Russell Labey – not the Housing Minister for a moment – I think we need to look at this, and I think we need to know the impact that this is having on the Island.
‘I worry about the effect on rural communities – there is so much land now not available to farming, because the owners of it don’t want farming on there.’
Around 23 applications have been granted annually between 2016 and 2020, with this year on track to reach above-average numbers.
Deputy Labey added: ‘I personally do worry about the scenario the Constable of Grouville paints, in that bringing more and more high-net-worth individuals into the Island, what effect that is having on prices. I think I am at capacity so it is not work that I can commit to in my department, but I do think it should be looked at.
‘I do hear you [Constable] and I wonder whether the brakes should be put on.’
Earlier this year a property in St Brelade sold for a record £31 million after two millionaires became embroiled in a bidding war.
Constable Mike Jackson, who was chairing the Scrutiny panel, said: ‘Of course we must not overlook the economic benefits that many of the immigrants bring to the Island, but the point I think that the Constable makes needs some clarification.’
Deputy Labey said: ‘There will be people listening to me for the last two or three minutes going “he’s absolutely crazy – he’s looking a gift horse in the mouth, what they bring is incredibly important”. But what I am worried about is becoming reliant on that sector.
‘That for me is a worry because that is not a good place to be.’
The Deputy recently unveiled a housing action plan, which includes commitments for 1,000 new affordable homes by 2025, as well as £10 million to support first-time buyers and an 80% increase in the supply of new homes annually.