FB Fields: Rediscovered land laws reveal clubhouse has stood illegally for 22 years

TRACK and field athletes and volunteers have been left in limbo after it emerged that a land covenant prevents them from spending a £580,000 government grant.

Jersey Spartan AC's clubhouse has stood since 1999 Picture: ROB CURRIE
Jersey Spartan AC's clubhouse has stood since 1999 Picture: ROB CURRIE

Jersey Spartan AC officials have been forced to scrap plans for a 60-metre indoor track at FB Fields following the discovery of regulations which state that no more than one building can exist on the site.

The project was backed by the Government of Jersey in April as part of the Treasury Department’s £50million Fiscal Stimulus Fund, despite the restriction allegedly being exposed by colleagues in another department earlier in the year.

And in a further twist, it has been revealed that, as a result of the one-building limit, JSAC’s clubhouse has stood illegally for over 20 years, as it was completed after the Geoff Reed Table Tennis Centre in 1999. Both buildings sit on the same parcel of land affected by the covenant in question – one of many protecting various sections of the St Clement facility.

Government officials, working on behalf of the land’s owners, Jersey Property Holdings, are now believed to be in the process of amending the paperwork retrospectively, which JSAC chair Rebecca Orpin says will delay any adjusted upgrades by at least 12 months.

The awarding of fiscal stimulus funding in the absence of covenant research follows a similar back-track made last year, when former Muratti footballer James Scott had his application to renovate the disused netball courts at FB overturned. The project had already been signed off by Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis when a separate, 60-year-old law protecting the land was unearthed.

Orpin, who is now lodging a new bid to renovate the clubhouse, said: ‘We were told prior to our grant award being announced that the covenant only allowed one building and that building is the table tennis centre. It opened about six months before our clubhouse in 1999. The covenants were amended to allow the table tennis building to exist but nothing was amended to allow our clubhouse to exist.

‘No one currently related to the project was aware that the clubhouse didn’t have permission to exist. Somebody historically missed something by not linking it up to the covenant and it has created a situation where we now have a grant for a great thing but we can’t actually use it.'

Deputy Hugh Raymond, the politician holding responsibility for sport in Jersey, said: ‘The athletics club made the application in good faith and the government gave the money in good faith, but it was then discovered that there was a covenant there which prevented them from doing what they wanted to do.

‘What they club would like to do down there instead is, I think, still fantastic. I would support that and if I can help them, bearing in mind everything that’s happened, I will.’

Full story in Saturday's JEP.

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