Tamba Park village rejection: Owner considers legal action

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The Planning Minister announced he had refused the application for 27 self-catering units on the tourism site, based in St Lawrence – despite an independent planning inspector recommending it be given the green light.

Tamba Park owner Jonathan Ruff said: ‘I just think it’s a joke. This whole process has been a joke and the wrong decision has been made. They haven’t taken into account what the planning inspector said, about the need to grow tourism, and the mass support there was behind this application.

‘To get an outright fat no; what does that say to the people who want to invest in Jersey? Is Jersey closed to business?’

Mr Ruff said he had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on the planning application, which was originally submitted nearly two years ago.

Despite the business case from Mr Ruff, and the findings of the independent planning inspector, Planning Minister John Young determined it was an inappropriate development in a designated green zone.

Deputy Young said: ‘Building a 27-unit holiday village would result in serious harm to the landscape and character of this area and the envisaged environmental enhancements and tourism benefits are not enough to overcome this harm.

‘This development also contravenes the strategic aims of the Island Plan, which seek to locate development in sustainable locations. If approved, it could set a precedent for other proposals in the countryside which go against our agreed Island Plan policy.’

But Mr Ruff disagrees with that assessment: ‘There are policies that allow it. This is a green holiday village on a site that’s currently covered in concrete with a giant structure on it.’

In his report recommending approval, planning inspector Graham Self said: ‘The benefits of the development with regard to the removal of existing glasshouses, the restoration of land for potential open-field agricultural use, landscape enhancements, drainage provision, potential benefits to the tourism economy and reduction of traffic along La Rue des Varvots would outweigh the adverse effects on the environment, amenities and rural character of the area.’

There were clues to the approach Deputy Young would take prior to May’s general election. Writing on his own website, he posted: ‘The Island is still under pressure from development of our coast and countryside. Recently we are seeing too many challenges to the Island Plan policies from those with the means to do so while ordinary people have to jump through many planning hoops.’

Writing specifically about the Tamba Park application, prior to his return to politics, he posted the following on Facebook: ‘I agree this tendency to undermine the Island Plan by virtue of their wealth should be resisted strongly. There are no valid grounds for an exception to policy here. If this goes we can expect open season on all our agricultural land.’

Reacting to those statements, Mr Ruff said that court action was the next step and added: ‘He posted that months ago. He’s conflicted.

‘He was massively against it from the start. I need to speak to my advisers. There’s been some wrongdoing. I need to get my facts sorted and prepare my defence. They can’t just overturn this on a whim.’

THE former Jersey Planning Minister who called for the public inquiry into the Tamba Park application has indicated he would likely have given the project the go ahead.

Deputy Steve Luce stopped short of saying so explicitly, but described Deputy John Young’s refusal as ‘a shame’.

He added: ‘A lot of work has gone into the scheme. There was work done on both sides, by the developer and officers from the department, to come to something agreeable to the majority. I found far more positives in the scheme than the minister seems to have found.’

And while Deputy Young opposed development on green land, Deputy Luce, like the independent planning inspector, concluded a holiday village had merit.

He said: ‘There were environmental benefits. Has the minister considered those? Glasshouses would be returned to fields. There would be easing of traffic congestion by moving the access point. I think there were benefits all round, not least for tourism. This was going to be self-catering accommodation. The existing Island stock is booked out solid. We can’t get enough.’

Deputy Luce was Planning Minister until May’s general election. He lost out to Deputy Young, the Chief Minister’s choice for the job, by just one vote.

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