THE government could make a fresh attempt to allow affordable homes to be built on derelict and redundant glasshouse sites – a proposal which was rejected during March’s mammoth Bridging Island Plan debate.
Chief Minister Kristina Moore sought to amend the key document – which sets planning policy for the whole Island until the end of 2025 – earlier this year when she was a Senator to allow 50% of commercial glass sites to be demolished and affordable homes built there, if it was ‘in close proximity to an existing settlement’.
But States Members rejected her proposal after then-Environment Minister John Young argued that it would ‘seriously undermine’ the Bridging Island Plan, as it would bypass a site-selection process that had begun in 2019 with a ‘call for sites’ to landowners.
Deputy Moore said ministers would once again explore this option, when she appeared before the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel yesterday. She said: ‘I got a strong sense from the Assembly at the last sitting that with 667 units being built in St Helier, town has done enough to provide homes for Islanders.
‘We need to revise the number of units proposed to be developed through the Bridging Island Plan and assess whether other sites around the Island can deliver more units of accommodation.’
She added: ‘We understand there is a separate need for improved green spaces in the centre of St Helier and the newly formed Future Places Ministerial Group will look at ways to give greater access to that.
‘We will look to alternatives, including building on glasshouse sites. It is firstly a matter for internal discussion, but I’d also be interested to hear the views of all stakeholders, including the public.
‘Simply put, we cannot create homes out of thin air and we obviously also need to balance this with assessing capacity in the construction industry.’
Deputy Moore added that the number of homes built on the 16 green-zone sites approved in the Island Plan could also increase in density, which would be in keeping with her government’s recently proposed ‘supplementary planning guidance’ to the plan, which is currently out for consultation.
The BIP proposes that 460 homes are built on rezoned fields into the end of 2025, made up of 373 affordable homes and 87 for supported living.
Deputy Moore said that the government could seek more sites to offer ‘decent homes to all Islanders’.
The BIP has a distinct policy on derelict and redundant glasshouses, which states that their redevelopment for non-agricultural use will not be supported.
‘When glasshouses are redundant to the horticultural industry or are derelict, they should be removed, and the land restored to agricultural use,’ the plan adds.
Development, it says, will only be allowed in ‘the most exceptional circumstances’.