Constable announces bid to create country park north of St Helier

Simon Crowcroft on La Fredee Lane which bisects Warwick Farm. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (38169552)

A COUNTRY park in the north of St Helier – complete with zip-wires, horse-trails and dog-walking paths – could be on the horizon, if the parish Constable gets his way.

Simon Crowcroft is having another shot at transforming Warwick Farm, which is currently being leased by CBD firm Jersey Hemp, to remedy the “critical lack” of green space in and around town.

And work could begin in the first half of 2026, he said, if he secures the backing of the Council of Ministers.

Jersey Hemp’s lease of the publicly owned site off Grande Route de St Jean is due to expire in January 2026, and the firm is already fighting an eviction notice to vacate the field.

In June 2023, the company laid off two-thirds of its workforce after being told by the UK Home Office that its CBD products were illegal, depriving it of 90% of its market.

Earlier this year, it won a legal case against the Home Office, and a spokesperson for the company told the JEP that it was still fighting legal battles with the department and the Jersey government.

The outcome of those court cases will determine whether it will try to “revive the business”, and whether to apply for an extension of the lease, the spokesperson added.

Mr Crowcroft said he would “strongly oppose” any attempt by ministers or the company to secure a new lease for Warwick Farm, and has urged the government to honour a commitment on the concept of a country park in the 2011 Island Plan.

In March 2022’s Bridging Island Plan, the Council of Ministers committed once again to “establish a project board to develop proposals to be included in the next Government Plan in order that the St Helier Country Park” can be delivered before the end of 2025.

However, Mr Crowcroft’s bid to secure £100,000 of funding for feasibility studies into the project failed in December 2022 after pushback from Deputy Kristina Moore’s government.

Now, with a new Council of Ministers in place – one in which Mr Crowcroft is an assistant minister – and considering Jersey Hemp’s current predicament, Mr Crowcroft said it could be the right time to bring those plans to fruition.

The first step, he explained, was a site visit with the Infrastructure Minister arranged for next month.

Mr Crowcroft said: “A country park is still the best use of that site, once it has been vacated by Jersey Hemp, and there are question marks over the future of that company.

“I’m quite keen to move this project forward now, and I’d like to move it forward earlier, if Jersey Hemp are not going to be using that site.

“Warwick Farm provides an opportunity uniquely for recreation for town dwellers and future generations to enjoy. It could include horse-riding, mountain-biking trails, dog-walking paths, zip-wires.

“There is a critical lack of green space in town, and transforming the site could be a catalyst for creating a horseshoe of countryside which connects all the green lanes in that area, from Vallée des Vaux to Fern Valley.

“It has exciting potential for long country walks and access to the countryside around the north of town that would benefit thousands of people.”

After a site visit, he would seek to secure the backing of the Council of Ministers, form a steering group to work on the proposals for the site, and apply for funding in next year’s Budget to move those proposals along.

“Feasibility work could take place over the course of next year and, realistically, when we get to January 2026 and the lease expires, we can start to build,” he explained.

A spokesperson for Jersey Hemp said: “There’s an enormous irony in having a country park for town-dwellers so far out of town, where you would have to use a car or bus to get there. It’s somewhat comical to suggest that’s a good use for the site, especially when there are other issues going on, like a housing crisis and business crisis.”

The spokesperson said an eviction notice had been served last December, but the firm had not honoured it – there are still assets and heavy machinery on site.

He added: “Following the outcome of the court cases, we will determine whether we are going to try and revive the business, or whether we are so sick and tired and disgusted with Jersey’s conduct that we think the Island is an uninvestable location.

“At the end of the day, the government own the field, and if our lease is up, it could be available.”

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