THE rejection of multi-million-pound plans for the Waterfront makes the need for a vision for the whole of town absolutely essential, the Constable of St Helier has said.
Simon Crowcroft said that the decision of a panel of politicians to dismiss the application from the taxpayer-owned Jersey Development Company to develop a large area of reclaimed land between the underpass and West Park provided an opportunity for a more joined-up approach to housing, amenities and transport.
In February, Mr Crowcroft lodged a formal proposal calling on the Waterfront plans to be halted until a town masterplan had been approved by the Assembly. However, he withdrew his proposition after the government promised it would draft a plan, as well as ringfence future ‘receipts’ from JDC for town regeneration projects.
Responding to the rejection, which came this week, Mr Crowcroft said: ‘I am relieved because the disruption would have been extreme, not only for residents but all users of the Waterfront.’
He added that he agreed with the determination panel’s decision to reject the application in full.
That group, made up of Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf, Assistant Environment Minister Hilary Jeune and Planning Committee chair Philip Le Sueur, chose to dismiss a recommendation from an independent inspector to postpone a determination until JDC returned with an amended application.
‘I think the panel were right because the proposed plans were sub-optimal and could have been far better,’ said Mr Crowcroft.
‘Some people will be quite pleased by the refusal, including residents already at the Waterfront, who will no longer face the spectre of living next to a building site for the next ten to 15 years.
‘However, it is also important to emphasise that the current Waterfront still has a lot to offer, including Jardins de la Mer and La Frégate Café, which will now have a stay of execution. It will continue to provide valued space for recreation and leisure.’
Mr Crowcroft also urged the government to keep its promise made to him in February.
He said: ‘It is important that ministers keep their word to write a masterplan for the whole of St Helier and ensure that receipts from JDC developments are ploughed back into regenerative schemes for town, which would be worth £15m over five years.
‘There is also a lot of important development going on in the north of town and it is essential that everything joins up, so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.’
In his February proposal, Mr Crowcroft said: ‘In contrast to rural parishes, town is being subjected to prolific development and this is being done without a clear sense of direction, agreed urban policies, nor effective engagement with those most affected by the changes.
‘By and large it is urban residents who are being forced to live with the increased pollution, traffic congestion, lack of parking, increasing road-safety challenges and lack of amenities and green spaces that are essential to support a healthy and balanced quality of life, in particular for families.’