Welcoming the decision, Citizens Advice chief executive Malcolm Ferey said the move would ‘support Islanders taking their first steps on the property ladder’.
The Assembly backed a proposition by Senator Sam Mézec, a former Housing Minister, relating to plans put forward by the Jersey Development Company.
Affordable housing is due to make up a significant proportion of the development, which could cover the area currently occupied by the Aquasplash and Cineworld complexes, Jardins de la Mer and the car parks at the Esplanade and Les Jardins.
JDC’s plans included more than 1,000 units, and Senator Mézec’s proposition had originally stipulated that affordable housing should make up at least 50% of the total, but he accepted an amendment from the Council of Ministers that this figure should be maximised, with no percentage cap given.
‘Whatever is planned must play a direct part in addressing the housing needs of Islanders, rather than a less tangible indirect part of raising profits for use elsewhere – that is a dubious strategy,’ he said.
Acquisition by ‘foreign’ individuals or organisations – later clarified to mean those not based in Jersey – would be damaging, Senator Mézec added.
‘This would mean profiteering, with the funnelling of money out [of Jersey] and contributing to rental inflation, he said.
Senator Mézec’s proposition also featured a requirement for ministers to prepare a report by 30 April to guide the JDC on the decision to prioritise affordable housing.
Mr Ferey said: ‘The delicate balance between providing affordable housing and housing for rental accommodation is always a difficult one to strike, particularly on such a desirable plot. But I think it is right that the view is to maximise whatever properties can be allocated to affordable housing, not least because it sends out the right signals that everyone in our society is valued.’
‘Broadly speaking we welcome it, and it should provide a pleasant environment both for rental and for purchase.
‘Lots of young families aspire to the dream of home ownership and we, as a society, need to do everything we can to make sure that aspiration is achievable while accommodating people who – for whatever reason – prefer to rent or will never be in a financial position to be able to buy.’
Senator Mézec, who resigned as Children and Housing Minister in early November, said he was pleased to have reached a ‘meeting of minds’ with former ministerial colleagues.
St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft said he accepted that the capital would be the site for much of the new housing planned for the Island.
‘I don’t call it a burden, because people are good for the town, but there must be compensation in the form of the open space, community and leisure facilities that residents will need,’ he said, adding that it was also important to have parking that was not ‘priced out of the hands’ of residents.
Deputy Kirsten Morel supported the proposition, criticising an ‘appalling lack of consultation’ which had left Senator Mézec and Environment Minister John Young to learn about the JDC’s plans through media reports rather than through ministerial briefings.
Chief Minister John Le Fondré said that while he did not always agree with Senator Mézec, the proposition showed the benefit of working together to achieve a compromise solution.
Senator Mézec’s proposition was backed by 40 votes to one, with Deputy Gregory Guida, who did not speak during the debate, casting the lone ‘contre’ vote.