National Trust chief and council could ‘be removed from office’

THE entire council of the National Trust for Jersey could be removed from office amid anger over a planned £1.5 million Fiscal Stimulus Fund-aided restoration of a historic farmhouse in St Lawrence.

Morel Farm Picture: ROB CURRIE
Morel Farm Picture: ROB CURRIE

Refurbishment works which, according to the trust, include the ‘careful repair and refurbishment of the historic farmstead’ and which will deliver ‘continuing public benefit and access’ are due to take place at Morel Farm.

The trust has also submitted two planning applications – one to change the use of the main house into self-catering accommodation and another to convert a former potato store, known as ‘the chapel’, into a one-bedroom self-catering apartment.

However, a group of objectors say that if the changes take place, the ‘unique farmstead would be lost to the Island forever’. They have lodged a motion, which is due to be voted on at the trust’s annual general meeting tonight, calling for the organisation’s chief executive, Charles Alluto, and all members of the council to be removed from office.

In an media release, a spokesperson for the charity said: ‘Local contractors will be on site within the next few weeks to start the careful repair and refurbishment of the historic farmstead. The property is now vacant and selective stripping out has started to take place including old carpets and modern fittings such as kitchens and bathrooms.’

It added: ‘There are no planning applications for glamping approved by the [NTJ] council and any future developments would be subject to consultation with key stakeholders and interested parties.

‘Following the likes of the Landmark Trust and Jersey Heritage, Morel Farm will now provide crucial and unique self-catering accommodation for Jersey’s visitor economy.’

Stanley Cohen, one of the objectors, says in a letter that he expects the AGM – which begins at 6pm – to be ‘very lively’ and that the plans contravene the trust’s specified objectives.

‘It appears to those of us who oppose the trust proposals, and who are trying to preserve and save the farm, that the trust’s proposed actions are totally opposite to the trust’s objectives.

‘This farmstead is a unique prime example of a 16th-century farm building and smallholding.’

He adds: ‘The hypocrisy of the National Trust for Jersey is mind-bending. If a private citizen was to make these proposals for this unique heritage property, the trust would, rightly so, be its most vociferous and dedicated opponents.’

Mr Cohen’s letter has also been signed by Catherine Lynn Anson and Geoffrey W Fisher.

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