A FORMER Housing Minister is among those objecting to a retrospective planning application to allow a three-bedroom flat to be used as tourist accommodation for six months of the year, arguing that there is already a ‘huge shortage’ of family homes in the Island.
In a public comment, Terry Le Main described the application as ‘outrageous’, explaining that the property – which is one of the Metropol Apartments in Roseville Street – was a ‘beautiful home eminently suitable for a Jersey family’.
‘This investor applicant seeks to make as much money out of the shortage of family homes which are so desperately needed,’ he added.
The three-bedroom and two-bathroom apartment has an open-plan kitchen and living area, external storage area, secure underground parking, a balcony, and a private patio garden.
The planning application is retrospective as the flat was first let as tourist accommodation in July 2021. It states that the owner ‘was not aware until very recently that permission was required to let [their] property as tourist accommodation’.
In her proposal the applicant, Emily Bain, explains that the application ‘would not result in any intensification of use’, and ‘does not seek any alterations to the dwelling itself; it is only the use that is proposed to be changed’.
It adds: ‘During the period where the property is not let for tourist accommodation, I will take tenancies for local residents as done previously.’
The application comes after Housing Minister David Warr recently announced a clampdown on Islanders renting their homes out as tourist accommodation, including through such sites such as Airbnb, without the required planning permission, with nearly 100 local properties due to be investigated.
Under the Planning and Building Law the use of a property for short-term holiday letting is defined as ‘development’, and requires planning permission.
The Metropol Apartment owner admitted that while the change of use ‘does take accommodation away from residents for part of the year’, they believe that ‘there is significant value added from providing short-term holiday lets’, with tourists spending more time frequenting local businesses.
It was stated in the application that ‘there is a new market for tourists that want to stay in homes instead of just having to use hotels’ and therefore suggests that ‘Jersey should have a “stock” of available properties so that it does not miss out on this demand’.
Eight public comments had been submitted in relation to the application by yesterday evening. They all oppose the proposed change of use for a number of reasons, including lack of housing for Jersey residents, concerns about building security with different tourists entering and leaving, the potential devaluing of other apartments in the complex, and worries that granting permission would set a precedent for future applications.
A decision about the application is due to be made later this month.