Constable warns against ‘creeping urban sprawl’

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Simon Crowcroft says he supports building the majority of Jersey’s new homes in town but stressed that Islanders living there also needed access to green spaces.

As part of the short-term Island Plan, fields across seven parishes have been earmarked as potential sites for affordable homes, with several of these in St Helier. The document will set planning policy between 2022 and 2024.

Some of the fields suggested for town housing were a ‘glint in the developer’s eye’, said Mr Crowcroft, on the basis they were on the fringe of an already built-up area and could be ‘absorbed without too much harm’.

‘It is this kind of creeping urban sprawl that spoils towns,’ he added.

‘I absolutely support the need to resolve the housing crisis, to provide more homes. I have always supported the sustainable principle of placing the majority of new homes in the capital.

‘I always have a caveat – if you expect most people to live in town you have to provide sufficient amenity space and parking. They have the right to car ownership as much as someone living in St Mary.’

Mr Crowcroft said people in town generally did not use their cars for commuting or the school run, but to get out and see the rest of the Island.

As part of the Common Strategic Policy – which sets ministerial aims and priorities for the Assembly’s term of office – it was agreed to ‘make St Helier a more desirable place to live, work, do business and visit’.

The St Helier Constable said: ‘I think we should be focusing on brownfield development. We shouldn’t be niggling away at the countryside. I have always opposed building on greenfield sites while brownfield sites remain.’

But he said brownfield sites also provided opportunities for new parks, adding: ‘Another thing I welcome in the Island Plan is it accepts you cannot build on every brownfield site as they become available. There should be opportunities to create new parks.’

Mr Crowcroft said there was ‘very little green space’ in town.

He added: ‘We are going to need to take some opportunities instead of building everywhere. I do not think we need to build everywhere to deliver St Helier’s share of housing.’

The proposed extension of the Millennium Town Park was ‘really exciting’, he said. As part of potential plans from social-housing administrator and developer Andium Homes to develop 122 new properties on the gasworks site, a significant extension was agreed to the park, which
would see it stretch to St Saviour’s Road.

Mr Crowcroft said: ‘I do not think it is enough. We need other parks in town. I think people simply do not appreciate how important open space is to making life a sufficient quality.’

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