Monday, 4 October 2010

Field 148

I wish to lodge a complaint against Ms Labey in regard to these " corruption " allegations which have apparently taken place over the rezoning of Field 148 in Grouville and any other land rezoning or otherwise in the Island. (Email, Senator Terry Le Main)

What is the background of Field 148? All I am doing is this posting is collating some of the background information; I am not commenting on any allegations made by Deputy Labey, but just putting in the public domain the background details about Field 148. There may well be enough circumstantial evidence to raise legitimate questions about various individuals involvement, and certainly if there is, then an enquiry is entirely proper, not as an allegation of corruption, but simply to demonstrate that everything was above board; I'd agree with Senator Cohen on that.

It should also be noted that Senator Le Main's complaint was on the basis of JEP reporting of Carolyn Labey's statement in Court, and that was only a précis, and may well have lacked qualifications and nuances. Going on past form, I would be very careful about taking JEP reports at face value. Senator Le Main's email has appeared on a local blog, and in the comments following it, are various comments about Deputy Labey's personal lifestyle that are insulting, if not slanderous. If he wants to be associated with that kind of blog, that is his affair, but I would question the wisdom of his placing his email in a context where he is associated with those kind of individuals.

Part of this comes a States Hansard report when Dan Murphy commented on it some time ago when replying to various questions asked by Senator Stuart Syvret:

"Would you please explain to me in writing exactly what business or other beneficial relationships exist between yourself, Senator Terry Le Main and Mr. Geoff Noel?" I will explain this in a moment. Let me just finish these questions first, okay? Senator Le Main and I have had a business relationship. It was in about 1988 when we had a guesthouse and we were hiring cars from him for our guests. That was it.

"Would you explain to me what discussions have taken place between the Attorney or Solicitor Generals, Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff, in connection with the subject matter of questions 1 to 6?" Now, this refers to a story that is being pushed around by the Senator [Stuart Syvret] about the purchase of the land field 148 at Gorey which is a deal that is being done between a benefactor, Mr. Kirsch, and Mr. Noel who owns that field. I have no part of it, I have absolutely nothing to do with it at all except that I pushed for the Parish to get a share of the houses that are to be built there for our older people and that is it. Senator Le Main is a big boy. He can speak for himself but there has been absolutely nothing at all between the rest of us.

The Grouville Gazette (Autumn 2008) gives some more of this background, again from Constable Murphy:

Now that the rezoning of Field 148 has been passed by the States I would like to offer parishioners an insight as to how this application came to pass. In the three elections since 2003 I have made the provision of more homes for the elderly one of my priorities as we only have 12 units, which are in great demand with a waiting list of 18. The opportunity arose when I was talking to David Kirch about the excellent developments his Trust had carried out in Gorey and he told me that he was actively looking for a further site to provide extra facilities. This coincided with the Housing and Planning Ministers asking the Connétables to assist by identifying sites for just this type of development and bringing them forward for consideration. We had looked at many sites in the Parish, which were unsuitable and also some glasshouse sites which were either unsuitable or not for sale At this time a developer had approached Mr Kirch with a proposal for Field 148 and he called me in to discuss it with him. Having spoken to the Procureurs it was decided that we would support him in exchange for nomination rights on 12 of the 20 proposed units for parishioners. We consider this to be an extremely generous gesture, one that would save the Parish from borrowing millions of pounds if we had to provide the units ourselves.

The amendment to the Island Plan was, in fact, lodged by the Minister for Planning:

PROVISION OF LAND FOR LIFELONG DWELLINGS (FOR PEOPLE OVER 55) AND FIRST-TIME BUYERS: AMENDMENT TO ISLAND PLAN (2002): Lodged au Greffe on 22nd May 2008 by the Minister for Planning and Environment

and in this we read:

(17) Field 148, Rue des Maltières, Grouville: The site is an infill development of land between Clos des Maltières and residential properties fronting Rue des Maltières and Rue Horman. It comprises approximately 4 vergées. The south east part of the site is adjacent to Grouville marsh and should be retained in its natural state. It benefits from a field access to Rue Horman, which could enable a direct pedestrian route to Gorey village. The site could accommodate approximately 20 lifelong dwellings for the Parish of Grouville, the development of which would be undertaken by the Gouray Lodge Charitable Trust.

The site is an infill development of land between Clos des Maltières and residential properties fronting Rue des Maltières and Rue Horman. It is designated as Countryside Zone in the 2002 Island Plan, and comprises approximately 4 vergées. The south-east part of the site is adjacent to Grouville Marsh and should be retained in its natural state. It benefits from a field access to Rue Horman, which could enable a direct pedestrian route to Gorey Village. The site could accommodate approximately 20 lifelong dwellings for the Parish of Grouville, the development of which would be undertaken by the Gouray Lodge Charitable Trust and appropriate protection measures for the marsh will be required during construction and once the dwellings are occupied.

The Rural Economy Strategy Group has advised that the top ¾ of the field produces a crop of early potatoes and should be retained in agriculture. Health Protection reported no issues with the development of this site. Transport and Technical Services support the site and advise that improvements for pedestrians should be investigated. The site can be connected to mains services.

Some of the following site-specific comments were received from the public consultation:

- Many other land owners were willing to make land available why weren't they consulted? (Other sites were mentioned by the Connétable, however this site best met the Connétable's requirement.)
- Island Plan Policy C6 makes a presumption against development therefore this site should not be considered. (The comment is noted, hence the Minister's decision to take a report and proposition to the States to rezone the land.)
- The Jersey Pottery site should be used instead or build homes on the green area next to Jersey Pottery. (The comment is noted; however permission has already been given for open market housing on the JP site. The adjacent green area is an essential part of the village flood relief scheme and cannot be built on.)
- Eco-impact to the marsh. (The comment is noted and the Environment Department will be consulted on any necessary measures.)
- Need for Parish rental houses not proven. (The comment is not accepted. The Connétable has confirmed the Parish need for elderly housing.)
- Benefactor's generosity is over-riding planning policy. (Notwithstanding the benefactor's generosity, the site meets the requirements for elderly housing.)
- The site floods. (The comment is noted. It is understood that the lower section of the field is wet and this area could not be built on and would be retained as a buffer zone.)
- The site is too steep for elderly people. (The comment is not accepted; the existing Parish homes at Hilgrove work well and are on a much steeper site.)
- Reduce speed limit in Rue Horman to 20 m.p.h. (The comment is noted and will be referred to the Parish.)
- Site is 600 m. from village which is too remote for elderly people. (The comment is not accepted. The site is in reasonable walking distance to the village centre and the shops.)
- The field is a wildlife corridor. (The comment is noted and the Environment Department will be consulted on any necessary measures.)
- Development will result in light pollution. (The comment is noted and the issue of light pollution will be addressed at the application stage.)
- Design and materials should blend in with the surrounding landscape. (The comment is accepted.)
- Build a 1.8 m. wall around the site to safeguard neighbour privacy. (The comment is not accepted; however boundary treatment will need to be carefully designed to ensure it does not have an unreasonable impact on the area.)
- Soft landscaping needs to be carefully designed to avoid impact to neighbours (The comment is accepted.)
- Footpath link necessary for easy access to the village. (The comment is accepted.)

The Planning Application appeared as follows:

Site Collection: Application Number: P/2010/0126
Site Address: Field 148, Le Chemin des Maltières, Grouville.
Applicant: B & N Developments Ltd.
Description: Construct 20 No. life-long homes. (Model Available). AMENDED PLANS RECEIVED.
Date Validated: 08/02/2010
Site to be Zoned Cat A Housing

T&TS Drainage in their letter dated 16.2.10 states "There is no public foul sewer readily available, the nearest being in La Rue Horman to the north-east. Connection to the existing foul sewer that drains Parcq des Maltières to the public foul sewer in La Rue a Don will not be permitted without extensive modifications to the existing pumping station adjacent to Links Estate. Full drainage details will need to be agreed. There is no public surface water sewer available and the use of soakaways and permeable paving is noted and recommended."

Environment (Agriculture) in their letter dated 24.1.10 confirm that the land has a history of agriculture use and are opposed to the application due to the loss of agricultural land.

Environment (Natural Environment) in their letter dated 4.3.10 confirm that they would be happy to offer advice on planting as well as options for grassland management to the south-east of the site.

Further details are required in respect of the effects on the surrounding ecology and how mitigation measures will be provided. Further details are also required to demonstrate how the provision of the mains services will be provided and any potential effect on the land to the south and east

The application was been advertised in the JEP and on site. A total of 6 letters of objection were been received. The grounds of objection were as follows:
. There are issues of boundary planting arrangements and correct boundary arrangements for access rights for repair and maintenance;
. The levels of the field may be changed and create problems of natural drainage and flooding;
. There will be an increase in traffic using La Rue Horman;
. This is an isolated site and not appropriate for housing;
. Why cannot the development be located on a more appropriate site elsewhere;
. The development will result in a lack of privacy for both existing and proposed occupants;
. There is no footpath link indicated between the site and the village;
. What arrangements have been made for drainage;
. The development does not blend in with the landscape;
. The plans do not address the issue of light pollution, and
. The submitted plans indicate inaccurate boundary/land ownership details.
Interestingly, no responses were received from applicants' agents.

Size, Scale & Siting
The proposed dwellings comprise modest 2 bed single storey dwellings in height.
The layout comprises two blocks of 3no. dwellings to the road frontage, with the remaining 16no. units grouped around a central landscaped/parking area.
The lower section of the field has a high water table and is prone to flooding. This area has been left as open space and provides a buffer between the development and Grouville Marsh.

Foul Sewage Disposal: The site has been the subject of a number of suggested drainage arrangements. The recently submitted drainage scheme is currently being assessed by officers from T&TS Drainage for its suitability and an update will be available at the meeting.

Officer Recommendation: APPROVAL subject to Conditions and the satisfactory completion of a Planning Obligation Agreement to ensure an appropriate mix of dwelling tenures on this site and the site at St. John.

It seems to me very odd, although not untypical of Planning Applications, that the sewage problem simply is assumed to be negligible, something that will just evaporate once the planning application is granted. In a like manner, the Hopkins Masterplan for the Waterfront was passed, even though the plan noted the risk of flooding near Gloucester Street and simply recommended that T&TS would do something about it, no doubt getting some good advice from King Canute.

The matter was debated in the States on 16 July 2008, and the proposition was passed.

P75/2008/ Provision of land for lifelong dwellings (for people over 55) and first-time buyers - amendment to Island Plan (2002) paragraph (d) Site 17 - Field 148, Rue des Maltières Grouville

There were a number of comments, but very few relating to either the paucity of the statistics behind that, or precisely what the condition of the agricultural land was. Members seemed mostly keen to take the percentage at face value, although John le Fondré demonstrated the deeply flawed nature of the response which formed a major plank in the argument - namely, that a small sample of 86 can hardly be taken as representative of the whole. He did not state another deficit, in that the sample was self-selecting, rather than randomised, which is another deep flaw in the bedrock of the data.

John Le Fondré: Members may well recall a rather well known advert for cat food, which used to claim that 7 out of 10 cats preferred that particular brand, this later changed to 7 out of 10 owners that expressed a preference and even more recently the rather pertinent statistic of 7 out of 10 cats said their owners preferred it. The reason I mention it, Sir, is in the summary of responses the department set out, it is to really demonstrate my slight concern at how statistics are presented. The reason I state that is on page 4 of that response it says: "Support for rezoning land: 82 per cent thought that land should be rezoned to help meet the needs of first-time buyer housing; 64 per cent thought that land should be rezoned for over-55s social rented; and 69 per cent thought that land should be rezoned for over-55s enabling existing homeowners to downsize." That is almost certainly true and would sound extremely impressive except for the fact it is based, as I understand it from reading the report, on written responses of 86.

Deputy Judy Martin asked a question about the Gorey Lodge Charitable Trust, and Constable Dan Murphy gave some details, without mentioning that he fully supported the rezoning of all the neighbouring Netherlee plot to Built-up Area (according to Mr Steven Harris), and also demonstrated his knowledge of agriculture. I'm not quite sure where he acquired it from, I may be mistaken, but I am pretty sure his background is in the finance industry, going back to the time when he worked at a local merchant bank in the 1960s ,and then he moved into the hotel industry. I'm not aware of any great agricultural knowledge on his part.

Deputy J.A. Martin: I have a direct question on Field 148 in Grouville. "The site could accommodate approximately 20 lifelong dwellings for the Parish of Grouville. The development would be undertaken by the Gorey Lodge Charitable Trust." I do not need to know who they are, I would like an explanation of what is this trust? Does it rule under the codes, because there is no law? Please remember there is no law for housing trusts that has ever come through this House, there is a code and I would like to know if they are new, if they are established, if they are - I presume - a not-for-profit organisation? But I would really like a recommendation because other than that I am not supporting that.

Constable Dan Murphy: If I can address mainly, Sir, obviously, Field 148, which is the field in Grouville which is up for rezoning. The site is basically an infill site and it is marginal agricultural land, which is very wet at the bottom. The trust who have undertaken to build have undertaken to hand over management of the bottom 7 metres to the National Trust who have land bordering on there and bordering on the Grouville Marsh. In fact the land is rent-free at the moment in exchange for branchage, et cetera. I have researched the whole area and we have not found any other suitable site. Everybody has got a field they want to build on, of course they have. We tried 2 sites around the Gorey village area which is the site we were aiming for. There is one site with glasshouses on and they would not sell and the other site was already part of the Potteries development, or the proposed Potteries redevelopment and that is part of the drainage system for the whole of Gorey village so it cannot be built on anyway - the village would flood without it. The application that is going in is on behalf of the Gorey Lodge Trust - and this is especially for Deputy Martin. It is very highly regarded within the Island community, obviously not in St. Helier. The main man behind the trust is David Kirsch who lives in Grouville I am delighted to say and the trust is the trust that provides £100 a year for senior citizens over the age of 70, which I believe comes to about £800,000 a year which they give away to the community.

However, Deputy Carolyn Labey, along with the comments noted by Environment (Agriculture) above, gave quite a different perspective on the matter, and note that there is a direct contradiction between what Constable Murphy has related about the field being lent out rent free in exchange for branchage - they can't both be right:

Carolyn Labey: I notice too this proposition suggests that the whole area around field 148 abutting the marsh and S.S.I. (Site of Special Interest) is to be considered as built-up zone if passed, and I am afraid I do not share my Constable's agricultural analysis of this field. I do not believe the land is poor, marginal and just let for rough grazing as long as the tenant does the branchage. The field was bought by a property developer a few years ago, who only would let the land to the farmer on a year-by-year basis, and then eventually gave him notice to quit last December. They have not used it for rough grazing this year but have, as a gesture of goodwill, mowed the weeds and done the minimum of branchage after their last crop last year. The land is productive early, reasonably light, and can successfully produce any crop that you would expect to grow in Jersey. The predominant crop that has been grown is potatoes, but the field has grown courgettes and lettuce as well as the grazing of cattle on rye grass grown after the potato crop. The majority of the field, as the Rural Strategy Advisory Group have said, is good quality land that will be a loss to the agricultural industry

On the vote, it was interesting to note that the House divided with the Council of Ministers acting without dissent, and Constables swinging in with a clear "block vote" (the exception being St Helier) but Senator Perchard and Deputy John le Fondré being resolutely against (in the latter case, probably because he was not persuaded by the abysmally small sample size of the statistics.)

Senator Frank Harrison Walker
Senator Terence Augustine Le Sueur
Senator Paul Francis Routier
Senator Michael Edward Vibert
Senator Philip Francis Cyril Ozouf
Senator Terence John Le Main
Senator Frederick Ellyer Cohen
Connétable Leonard Norman
Connétable Kenneth Priaulx Vibert
Connétable Kenneth Alan Le Brun
Connétable Derek Frederick Gray
Connétable John Le Sueur Gallichan
Connétable Daniel Joseph Murphy
Connétable Michael Keith Jackson
Connétable Silvanus Arthur Yates
Connétable Graeme Frank Butcher
Connétable Peter Frederick Maurice Hanning
Connétable Juliette Gallichan
Deputy Gerard Clifford Lemmens Baudains
Deputy Celia Joyce Scott Warren
Deputy Roy George Le Hérissier
Deputy John Benjamin Fox
Deputy James Gordon Reed
Deputy Jacqueline Ann Hilton
Deputy Paul Vincent Francis Le Claire
Deputy Anne Enid Pryke
Deputy Sean Power
Senator Alan John Henry Maclean
Deputy Kevin Charles Lewis
Deputy Andrew David Lewis
Deputy Ian Joseph Gorst

Senator Stuart Syvret
Senator Wendy Kinnard
Senator Ben Edward Shenton
Senator James Leslie Perchard
Connétable Alan Simon Crowcroft
Deputy Robert Charles Duhamel
Senator Alan Breckon
Deputy Jacqueline Jeannette Huet
Deputy Frederick John Hill, B.E.M.
Deputy Judith Ann Martin
Deputy Geoffrey Peter Southern
Senator Sarah Craig Ferguson
Deputy Patrick John Dennis Ryan
Deputy Carolyn Fiona Labey
Deputy Guy William John de Faye
Deputy John Alexander Nicholas Le Fondré
Connétable Deidre Wendy Mezbourian
Deputy Shona Pitman

Connétable Thomas John du Feu

Connétable Geoffrey William Fisher

Deputy Peter Nicholas Troy

Deputy Collin Hedley Egré



rico sorda said...

Excellent blog Tony

Not quite sure how you do it but you do


Anonymous said...

I would love to know who is involved in
Gourey Charitable Trust
Philip Bailhache is giving one of the lunchtime talks at the buisines school in a couple of weeks,all to do with the setting up of trusts. Might be worth popping in.

TonyTheProf said...

Mr. Kirsch is clearly the individual who set it up, but I have not come across any allegations, even on Stuart Syvret's blog, relating to him.

Any allegations made seem to concern

(1) a possible friendship (or business connection) which has been suggested between Mr Noel and Senator Le Main, which in itself can hardly be "corruption" even if it does exist, Jersey being a small place.

(2)the large number of fields which came up at the same time as the over 55s issue all owned by developer Mr Noel which could simply be opportunism on Mr Noel's part.

(3) the inconsistent way in which different parishes allocated fields for development, which seemed to lack logic (except for the involvment of Mr Noel with a number but not all of the fields).

Anonymous said...

Sorry got it wrong about the talk about trusts , it's being held at the institute of law, Seal St.
Advocate Alan Dart will be giving the talk.

Anonymous said...

I think as things are uncovered, Graham Butcher might feature in the saga.
Just one question, does anyone know if you set up a charitable trust, does some of that money have to be paid out ie the £100 voucher to the senior citizens every Xmas .
Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I think one should go further back into our recent history.
I for one can remember visiting (early 1980’s) a certain Terry Le Main (now Senator) used car dealer and used car repair wizard (but that’s another story), He lived and ran a business spookily close to field 148 at a place that was a farm with lots of outbuildings full of rat runs and occupied by agricultural seasonal workers living in what can only describe as sub-standard accommodation (Maybe Tel-boy was into aggro tourism before it had even been invented, him being a farmer and all that, sorry I meant used car dealer).
My point being that this location was redeveloped and is now known as Close des Maltieres. Someone please pop down to the Royal Court archives, (public access is allowed and is your right!!) it might make interesting reading if you have the time. All you need to do is go to the Judicial Greffe at the royal court buildings, ask to access the Royal Court Record archives or PRIDE system, then you’ll be logged in and a short demo later you’re in. Deeds, Contracts, who sold what to whom, does that person owe money to the bank is it bonded etc, who lent it to them etc. Biggest flaw is, it does Not cover share transfer. For that go to do a company search, find the company or business name you’re looking for, pay £2 for an annual return of the said company check that against previous annual returns to see if it has different share holders, biggest flaw on this one is that it costs, and trust me, you could be chasing you tail as I recently found out, the first company was owned by another, then another, then another, then another which owned the first one, see the loop!!
Hours of fun, Happy Hunting

TonyTheProf said...

Regarding some suggestions being made - David Kirch has no obligation to give pensionners £100 in vouchers; it has nothing to do with a Charitable Trust, and as I am aware, no one has made any allegations about dodgy property deals anywhere regarding him.

Anonymous said...

Northern Trust Group
re Plemont development

These Trusts are becoming very popular these days.

Anonymous said...

no one has made any allegations about dodgy property deals anywhere regarding him.

Daisy hill,go seek and you will find