Compulsory purchase now reality for St Helier

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ST Helier could be forced to give up land and properties around the proposed new hospital site following the launch of compulsory-purchase proceedings against the parish by the government.

A ministerial decision, signed by Assistant Environment Minister Gregory Guida, has authorised the States Greffier to serve notices on the parish authorities, initiating the process.

Normally, any proposed compulsory purchase would need to go before the States Assembly for approval. However, under the Our Hospital – Budget and Financing Proposition, approved in August last year, the government already has power to begin compulsory purchase proceedings for land in certain areas around the hospital.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the government will look to take the land from the parish by 15 June.

Some of the properties include the Jersey Bowling Club, as well as the car parks at the People’s Park and the Inn on the Park.

The move follows the rejection of a £6.5 million offer by a parish assembly for the land, which would have also allowed the bowling club to relocate to Warwick Farm.

This was despite the Procureurs du Bien Public – the parish’s elected legal and financial representatives – saying the deal was ‘reasonable’ and represented ‘value’ to parishioners.

A separate part of the ministerial decision also reveals that proceedings have begun against the owner of 5 Hillcrest in Westmount Road, with the government seeking to buy ‘a driveway, a strip of land and a raised planter’.

The ministerial decision says: ‘Most, but not all, of the land and properties required to deliver the Our Hospital project at Overdale has been acquired by agreement.

‘Given the lapse of time since the States first authorised the assembly of the land and properties required to deliver the Our Hospital project at Overdale, the Assistant Minister for the Environment has decided to give notice to commence the compulsory-purchase procedure for the remaining land and properties required to deliver the Our Hospital project at Overdale, as agreement has not been reached with all of the relevant owners to assemble the States’ preferred site.

It adds: ‘For the avoidance of doubt, it is acknowledged that agreement can be reached during the process of compulsory purchase.’

Jersey Water’s headquarters, Mulcaster House, have already been sold to the government for £3,333,750, including fees and taxes.

Private homes have also been purchased for amounts – including fees and taxes – of up to £2,075,000, £1,820,000 and £1,700,000. In November 2020, it was revealed that the government was expecting to spend around £16.6 million on buying properties for the project.

It is not the first time in recent years that the government has enacted compulsory-purchase proceedings. In October 2018, ahead of the construction of the new Les Quennevais School, the owner of a parcel of land earmarked for part of the project upped his price from £194,000 to £3.8 million.

Proceedings began but, following negotiations, the owner agreed to sell for £409,000.

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