DOUBLING the size of the Millennium Town Park is back on the political agenda following discussions between the Chief Minister and St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft this week.
Deputy Kristina Moore said that ‘there [were] ways forward’ to achieve both the full-scale expansion of the park sought by the Constable, and Deputy Rob Ward’s calls for improved primary-school facilities in the area.
In March, Deputy Ward successfully brought an amendment to the Bridging Island Plan ‘to safeguard the Jersey Gas site for education facilities’.
But following the debate, Mr Crowcroft pledged to continue his battle to extend the park to cover the area formerly occupied by the utility company.
Both ambitions now feature on the Chief Minister’s agenda following her visit to Springfield School last week at which she said she learned that 98% of children at the primary did not have access to open space at home. She described this as ‘a very harsh piece of information’.
Deputy Moore also revealed that sites were being identified for prefabricated housing units for some of the Island’s key workers. A lack of suitable housing has been seen as a major barrier to recruitment during a property market boom which has priced many people out of the Island and deterred many others from relocating to Jersey.
Asked about the plans for a park or a school on the Jersey Gas site – previously the subject of a declined planning application for housing by Andium – the Chief Minister replied: ‘There are certainly ways forward to achieve both things. It would entail [identifying a different site] for a primary school but we wouldn’t be leaving Springfield school where it is.
We’ll have to come up with a rationale and an evidence base for it..[and it] would require discussion with our colleagues, particularly Deputy Ward who brought his amendment to the Bridging Island Plan which was supported strongly by the Assembly.
‘We wouldn’t want to move away from it without having his agreement and a strong alternative option that was superior.’
Deputy Ward said that he would be ‘open to a conversation’ with the government about the Jersey Gas site if a suitable alternative could be identified for the school.
‘It needs to be a genuinely suitable site for a school so that children can walk to school and have access to green space. This is something that we have thought very carefully about to provide what is best for St Helier. It is not about point-scoring but about having the best for kids in St Helier,’ he said.
The Chief Minister also said that the prefabricated homes under consideration for key workers were of a much higher quality than the portable temporary homes rejected by the previous States Assembly in April.
‘There are some really great options out there; they are not low-quality options,’ she said. ‘There are some interesting sustainable products in the market.
‘I am really impressed by the solutions, which are also very sustainable and have a 60-year life. It’s not just a quick fix; it will offer a pleasant solution which is sustainable, completely generating [their] own power and enough to power a car as well.
‘We really do have to deliver the homes. We have people arriving in the Island at the moment who are finding it very difficult to find accommodation, and that’s not acceptable.
‘We are inviting people to bring their skills, skills that we really need to deliver our core services, and we need to be focused on resolving these problems,’ she said.