Deputy Rob Ward has lodged an amendment to the Draft Bridging Island Plan calling for an education facility to be built on the old Jersey Gas site.
The Reform Jersey politician says that a new school is needed to ease pressure on town classrooms, some of which are at capacity, as a result of the Island’s increasing population.
The site had previously been earmarked for housing, with Andium having submitted plans to build more than 100 affordable homes and to extend the Millennium Town Park.
However, the application was rejected in January due to the possible presence of Neolithic remains, including a potential burial site. Andium subsequently said that they might have to walk away from the project as it could become commercially unviable.
Deputy Ward, who chairs the Children’s, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel, said the government could intervene and build a new school on the site instead – given that ‘it is known that there are deficiencies in the provision of education facilities in the Island’.
Education provision has been a big topic for the Assembly recently, with former Children’s Minister Sam Mézec and St Helier Deputy Inna Gardiner among those calling for more school spaces in town.
Next week, the States Assembly is due to debate a proposition from Deputy Gardiner which, if approved, would allow Rouge Bouillon primary to expand into the former police headquarters.
In his amendment to the Bridging Island Plan, Deputy Ward said the former Jersey Gas site on Tunnell Street had ‘not, to my knowledge, been considered as a possible site for a new town primary school’.
He added: ‘The pressure on the primary schools, particularly in St Helier, has been the subject of questions in the States Assembly. [A recent written question] confirms that approximately 14% (eight of 59) year groups in town primary schools are at capacity.
‘The site is in the perfect location for a primary school in the north of St Helier. Not only would there be enough space to build a school that would be fit for purpose but, given the size of the site, there would be sufficient additional space to provide outdoor play areas and sports facilities for the pupils, facilities which are sadly lacking in the other St Helier primary schools. There is also an opportunity to further extend the area of the park.’
The St Helier Deputy said that providing a new school in town would fit with the government’s proposed Sustainable Transport Policy by enabling more children to walk or cycle to school, rather than forcing parents to drive pupils to less central St Helier locations such as d’Auvergne School at La Pouquelaye. He said: ‘The opportunity to safeguard the perfect site for a new, modern primary school should not, and must not, be missed and I strongly urge Members to support this amendment,’ he said.
If approved, the amendment would safeguard the site for education facilities and prevent its use for any other purpose.
The Bridging Island Plan is due to be debated in March.