Constable calls for rezoning land for homes

A CALL for two fields in St Peter to be re-zoned to allow for a ‘much-needed’ affordable housing development has been made by the parish Constable after a new report highlighted soaring demand.

Constable Richard Vibert said demand for the first-time buyers’ homes has not abated since the then Environment Minister last year rejected a plan to build 65 three-bedroom homes in the village.
 
The parish has a waiting list of 240 people for the starter homes – all of whom have already been assessed by the Housing Gateway as suitable for purchasing in an affordable-home scheme.
 
The properties were to be sold at 75% of current market value, with the parish holding a bond for the remaining 25% in perpetuity.
‘To those on the list, these properties are everything,’ Mr Vibert said. ‘Some had almost given up the hope that they would ever be able to buy their own home.’
 
Since the project was quashed last year, the average sale price for family homes has continued to rise, climbing to over £580,000 for a three-bedroom property.
 
‘In many cases, these homes would be the only chance that the applicants would have to purchase a home at an affordable price,’ Mr Vibert said, adding that he was still regularly contacted by people with a connection to the parish asking to be added to the list, even though it closed years ago.
 
But last April, the then Environment Minister, Deputy Steve Luce, rejected the development, called Ville de Manoir, on a number of grounds including that it conflicted with the Island Plan. However, an independent report issued last week looking at housing need in the Island for the next decade has concluded that 7,000 homes will be needed by 2030, based on current migration trends.
 
Even if inward migration for the next decade was to be zero, there would still be a need for 2,200 homes, the report said.
For the parish, bringing families back into the village is a priority.
 
‘It is noticeable that the large green area within the estates built in the 70s and 80s have virtually no children playing on them, in complete contrast to one or two decades ago, when these areas were actively used by children,’ Mr Vibert said.
 
‘We are an ageing parish. Because of the lack of affordable housing, many of the original occupants of the villages have remained in those houses, while their children have been unable to find houses within the parish and have moved out of St Peter.
 
‘The information in the report completely vindicated the parish, who had been accused of over-estimating demand,’ he said.
‘Now that the relevant information is available to all States Members, I consider that it is the correct time to bring this proposition and start to make some impact on Jersey’s chronic shortage of affordable housing.’
 
The head of the Island’s affordable housing provider has also supported the call for the land to be rezoned, in the Andium annual report last year.
 
Both chief executive Ian Gallichan and chairman Frank Walker expressed disappointment at the Ville de Manoir decision and said they would continue to work to have it reversed.