Government urged to ‘grip the Waterfront debacle firmly’ by ex-minister

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (38212261)

TWO-THIRDS of any future residential development on the Waterfront should be allocated to first-time buyers or those seeking to “right-size” their homes, according to a former minister.

Deputy Helen Miles, who served as Home Affairs Minister from July 2022 until January this year, has put forward a proposition calling on the government to “grip the Waterfront development debacle firmly” as a means of solving the Island’s housing crisis.

Jersey Development Company plans for the redevelopment of the Waterfront – which would have included around 1,000 homes – were thrown out last year after an independent planning inspector recommended that the application could not be accepted as it stood.

Should States Members vote to support the proposition, the government would be required to instruct the JDC to categorise at least 50% of any future Waterfront scheme as “affordable housing” for first-time buyers, plus a further 15% to facilitate right-sizing – right-sizing involves someone moving into a new home that can better meet the requirements of their household.

In the report accompanying her proposition, Deputy Miles – who served in Deputy Kristina Moore’s government until a successful vote of no confidence in January – stated that she was fulfilling a manifesto pledge from the June 2022 election to address the housing crisis.

She said: “Whilst the overall Waterfront development has been one of the greatest disappointments in Jersey’s modern history, we have a chance to write a new chapter of which we can be proud.

“Currently, the Waterfront still lacks a sense of place, community and vibrancy – ensuring we make it a location where hundreds of Island families are personally invested for the long-term can only be positive in supporting this key part of St Helier to become the central part of Island life that we all hoped it would be.”

The proposed move, Deputy Miles added, would be consistent with the government’s Common Strategic Policy, which was passed last month. The CSP highlighted ministers’ priority to encourage the building of more affordable homes for Islanders to buy or rent.

The St Brelade Deputy argued that her proposition would help change the perspectives of young families who do not believe they have a future in Jersey.

And it would send a message that the Island was a place where families can prosper, face the future with optimism, and plan for the long-term, she added.

“It would give confidence that Jersey is an Island where young people can build their lives and establish settled homes and families,” she said. “It would show that the government is on their side.”

The right-sizing provision in the proposition was consistent with a policy recently announced by Housing Minister Sam Mézec, Deputy Miles claimed, adding that while she considered the percentage figures to be appropriate, other Members were free to lodge amendments including different figures.

She concluded: “I ask Members to give hope to Islanders, of all ages, and to show that as their representatives, we can both talk the talk, and walk the walk in addressing their housing needs, and the housing crisis.

“The government needs to grip the Waterfront development debacle firmly and provide clear direction to the JDC.”

Deputy Mézec and the JDC have been approached for comment. A JDC spokesperson said the corporation would prefer not to comment, as the matter was one for States Members to decide.

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