PROPOSED new apartments on the site of the planning offices at South Hill would have ‘a serious, even calamitous’ impact on one of the Island’s most important landscapes, according to a leading geologist.
Objecting to the current plans in the planning consultation, Dr John Renouf describes the site of special interest at South Hill as being of ‘international significance’.
‘[It is] exceptional in that it provides a landscape window on lost worlds extending back 400 to 500,000 years and embraces those times in the Island when the Neanderthals and their immediate predecessors were roaming north-west Europe,’ he said.
The proposed new development by the Jersey Development Company would demolish the existing government buildings on the site, except for the former military barracks, and construct 70 one-bedroom, 56 two-bedroom and 27 three-bedroom apartments with a courtyard garden, basement car parking and cycle storage.
It would also provide a ground-floor café and public toilets.
But Dr Renouf describes it as ‘inconceivable in the 21st century’ that the current proposals could have reached their present state without what he describes as ‘considered reference to the wider landscape issues’.
He objects to the development on the grounds that it constitutes a ‘massive over-development’ of the site which is damaging to the skyline and which includes buildings whose height and impact breaches policies in the 2011 Island Plan. Consequently, he expresses concern that the development would compromise the landscape for specialists and general visitors to the site.
In his submission, Dr Renouf said: ‘In this particular development, it is clear that if the proposed height above the South Hill plateau is put in place, the views of the whole of Fort Regent from north to south will be adversely affected by the dominance of this development.
‘Thus, the skyline factor will not just impinge on South Hill but will affect the whole view of the Fort from the west.’
Dr Renouf, one of the Société Jersiaise’s most distinguished members, has been a consistent critic of development at Fort Regent and South Hill which he believes would adversely affect one of the Island’s most important geological sites.
Earlier this year, he wrote to States Members to express his concerns about proposals for a nearby skate park at South Hill.
Dr Renouf told the JEP: ‘To me the two proposed sites – the planning offices and the skate park – if carried out will seriously damage the ensemble of the Fort Regent site and, quite apart from the impact on the SSI that is South Hill, will deeply affect the ability of the Island to promote the historical importance of the Fort to Jersey’s history as well as destroying one of the very few quiet spots in St Helier.’