Images of how the proposed Waterfront development could look have been shown on the first day of a public inquiry into the scheme.
If approved, nearly 1,000 homes will be built between the Underpass and West Park on land currently occupied by AquaSplash and Fitness First, Cineworld and car parks on both sides of Route de la Libération.
The plans – submitted by the taxpayer-owned Jersey Development Company – include new parks and squares, shops and restaurants, pedestrian and cycle streets, a tree-lined boulevard, a sports centre comprising a 25m pool and gym, a 390-space ‘cycle hub’, strengthened sea defences and a new slipway.
If passed, the development – all built on reclaimed land – will be constructed over 12 years in four phases. It would be privately funded through the sale of up to 984 apartments and duplexes on the site.
The JDC says it will invest £150m in publicly accessible spaces, including an enlarged Jardins de la Mer and new outdoor lido pool. Taken together, public space would take up more than half of the site.
Describing the scheme on the first day of the five-day inquiry, which is being overseen by independent planning inspector Philip Staddon, JDC chief executive Lee Henry said: ‘The proposal presented responds to consultation feedback as well as providing for the needs of the Island as set out by the government.
‘The Island has a need for 7,000 new homes by 2030. This demand is being created by the continuing trend for smaller household sizes and the requirement for inward migration to support the needs of the Island as a result of the ageing population causing a reduction in the number of working-age people.
‘The spatial strategy for the Island, as restated in the Bridging Island Plan, is to focus new development within the existing built-up areas. From a transport, infrastructure and environmental perspective, this Waterfront area provides a natural extension to the town and provides the Island with a release valve that will reduce pressure for green-field rezoning.’
While supporting the principle of a ‘residential-led, mixed-use scheme’ on the site, Planning is opposed to the development as it stands.
Principally, this is because there is no space to process the contaminated and inert waste that will be excavated to create basement parking.
Raising these concerns at the inquiry, planning officer Wendy Johnston said: ‘The application is predicated on waste arising from the site being disposed of at the government facility at La Collette, which is the only contaminated-waste facility in Jersey.
‘This facility currently does not have the benefit of planning permission for the disposal of contaminated waste, including asbestos.
‘A planning application which sought permission for the disposal of waste at La Collette was recently refused by the Planning Committee, but ratification of this decision was delayed for six months.
‘The operator has been given six months to submit two planning applications for consideration. One to seek retrospective permission for the contaminated landfill cells constructed to date, the second to seek permission for future disposal of contaminated and inert waste at La Collette, until such time as other options for disposal can be identified.’
Planning also have concerns about impacts on nearby heritage sites such as Elizabeth Castle and the wider townscape, the impact on existing shops in St Helier and the capacity of drains in the area.