Former Environment Minister calls for boost in Waterfront’s ‘affordable’ homes

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A FRESH call to make half the 1,000 homes planned for a major Waterfront development ‘affordable’ has been issued by a former Environment Minister.

John Young, who stepped down from the Assembly last year, said it would be a ‘mistake’ to approve the States of Jersey Development Company’s application in its current form adding: ‘Let us not hurry it.’

The JDC’s proposals for a ten-year transformation of the Waterfront include new homes, an ‘arthouse’ cinema, new indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a gym and a multi-purpose facility for children – which could be used for rock climbing, an ice rink or a roller-skating arena.

However, in an official response to the planning application, Mr Young said he believed that 30% – and preferably 50% – of the 984 homes earmarked for the site should be ‘affordable’, meaning that purchasers are given financial support. Currently, the plan sets out that 15% of the units will be.

Mr Young said: ‘The proposed 15% affordable homes provision is way short of what is needed. Why should the best sites not go to our young people?

‘I voted unsuccessfully for an increase to 30% and 50% provision in the Island Plan [which sets planning policy] debate against my former ministerial colleagues.

‘However, I did succeed in bringing an amendment to Island Plan policy which allows ministers to increase the 15% on this site to a higher provision through the procedural mechanism of the Government Plan each year.

‘That Island Plan policy should be put into effect within these plans with at least 30% affordable provision on this site, preferably 50%.’

Mr Young also supports St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft’s proposal to develop a masterplan for the whole of St Helier before approving the Waterfront development.

‘I consider that taking these wider planning considerations into account, it would be a mistake to give approval to this proposed development framework at the present time,’ Mr Young said.

‘I think the Constable of St Helier’s position on this is correct. He, like me, has seen Jersey’s urban policy in action for decades and recognises that giving the framework the green light by approving this application before these wider planning issues are clarified or resolved is premature.’

The outline application by the JDC will be the subject of an independent planning inquiry to be held in May. Mr Young said that he was ‘disappointed’ with the terms of reference, set by current Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf, for that inquiry.

Mr Young argues that the inquiry’s inspector should have been asked to look at wider development issues, including the absence of plans to meet the need for new town primary schools and ‘the crisis of availability of affordable homes’.

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