The Assistant Minister for the Environment has rejected the Broad Street regeneration project, Les Sablons, following appeal.
The Independent Inspector recommended that the Minister should allow this appeal and grant planning permission for the development proposal.
In December 2011, the former Minister for the Environment granted planning permission for a similar scheme on the site. The Independent Inspector highlighted in his report on Les Sablons that “The application site was nearly identical to the current appeal site.”
Brian McCarthy (pictured), Managing Director of Le Masurier commented: “This is a very sad day for St Helier and our island. The opportunity for substantial regeneration of over 2½ acres of the centre of town at our site on Broad Street and Commercial Street has been lost.
The Independent Inspector recommended the scheme for approval at appeal, consistently agreeing with the significant merits of the proposals, but the Assistant Minister has gone against his decision. Why spend taxpayers’ money to bring to the island an independent professional planning inspector only to ignore his recommendation? To say we are disappointed is an understatement.
“Le Masurier’s £120 million investment would have contributed to the island’s chronic housing shortfall on a town centre brownfield site, thereby protecting our precious countryside. It would have delivered 150 full-time jobs, boosted tourism with a brand-new aparthotel through Staycity, with whom we had agreed terms subject to planning consent, and created a publicly accessible courtyard garden linking King Street to the bus station via a safe pedestrian route. All of this would have been at no cost to the taxpayer.
“After our submission and appeal hearing, but prior to this determination of our appeal, the Government introduced new planning policies; this included Policy H6 of the Bridging Island Plan: ‘Making homes more affordable’. The Minister for Housing and Communities and I met to discuss how we could help people onto the property ladder and how the new Policy H6 might be considered in the context of our development. We had a very positive meeting, following which I wrote to the Independent Inspector to confirm that we were more than willing to deliver affordable housing, and that we looked forward to agreeing detailed terms with the Minister. The Independent Inspector considered that the inclusion of assisted purchase housing was “a further planning benefit” in favour of allowing the appeal.
“However, we found out late last Friday that although our appeal to the Independent Inspector was successful and his recommendation is for approval, this had been over-ruled by the Assistant Minister for the Environment and the case refused.
“I and many others in the industry think our planning process is fundamentally broken. The recent independent review of the Planning Department was scathing in its criticism of the Department and has prompted a 16-point action plan from the Government.
“In my opinion, this is too little too late. It is imperative that our planning system considers our island’s declared needs, and gives fair consideration to proposals that are put forward, which will go a long way to resolving the challenges the island faces on housing, tourism, and inward investment in St Helier. In addition, the construction industry is under immense pressure at a very difficult time and decisions like this do nothing to support our economy.
“I would like to thank the Constable, the Parish of St Helier, and the public and all those who supported Les Sablons for their strong backing and for their very kind words.”