Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Dear Fellow Resident

I've recently seen a missive sent out to the residents of St Brelade's Bay, and it paints a very misleading picture of certain proposals by Deputy John Young. In effect, by linking his proposals to Coastal National Park, as a quick reading of the JEP suggests, it makes a case for virtually any development in the bay to be permitted, including revision of plans to increase sizes of dwellings considerably, or development of large and inappropriate properties.
In fact, contrary to what the letter tells us, the JEP says that John Young is concerned about the impact of future development on the "beachfront" following "plans submitted for a ten-bedroom house on the former Zanzibar site". There is no indication in any thing that he wants the whole bay to be protected in such a stringent way, only the "beachfront" area.
What else is notable about this letter? It is anonymous. It has been put through the letterbox of residents living in St Brelade's Bay, but the writer clearly wishes not to be known. One has to ask why. Is it because they are planning a development of the kind that residents might well oppose, and don't wish to be identified? Is it because they are already the subject of criticism for a new development within the Bay? Either way, it seems very cowardly to take pot-shots at Deputy Young, and not reveal who you are.
Here is the start of the letter, which conveys most of the central arguments:
"Dear Fellow Resident"
"As reported in the Jersey Evening Post, Deputy John Young is calling for greater restrictions to existing homes and businesses in St. Brelade's Bay. "
"His call for Coastal National Park restrictions are unnecessarily emotive and unwarranted given the level of protection already afforded to the beach front through existing planning polices. The Coastal National Park policy of the Island Plan is due to be debated and amended by the States of Jersey in June this year. The amended policy will restrict householders and businesses, preventing even the most minor of changes, without a .planning application, and setting the strongest presumption against all forms of new development for whatever purpose. Designation of St Brelade's Bay as Coastal National Park would, in particular, mean:"
"1.    Every householder's permitted development rights being restricted or removed meaning planning permission having to be required for all minor alterations to existing buildings, driveways and other forms of hard landscaping, accesses, fences and walls and satellite dishes (and signs, advertisements or flagpoles for businesses).
2.    The strong presumption against new ancillary buildings such as garages, sheds and outbuildings
3.    Presumption against the replacement of your house with a new building if an increase in size is desired or required, notwithstanding how well designed it is.
4.    All extensions would need to be subservient to the main house seriously restricting the size of extension you might desire, notwithstanding how well designed it is.
5.    Extensions could not be built to provide a granny annexe for a dependent relative or child.
6.    Presumption against the redevelopment of existing businesses for other employment or non-employment use.
7.    Proposals for new leisure and tourism buildings are unlikely to be favourably considered."
Now contrast this for being misleading. From the letter:
"As reported in the Jersey Evening Post, Deputy John Young is calling for greater restrictions to existing homes and businesses in St. Brelade's Bay."
And from the JEP:
"The beachfront at St Brelade is 'vulnerable' and should be protected from future development as part of the Coastal National Park, according to one of the parish Deputies."
Notice how the "beachfront" is conveniently left out of the letter!
And in fact, the purpose of the public meeting is not quite how it appears even in the JEP. His exact words are:
"Greater protection required for St Brelade's Bay in Island Plan, have arranged public meeting 29 April 7.30pm at Parish Hall to hear views"
This is not any sort of formal proposal. He is just inviting public views.
A careful reading of what Deputy Young is saying indicates that the whole issue is not about preventing or opposing all development, but about controlling it. It is about ensuring that changes fit into the beachfront, and improvements and refurbishments build on what is there. It is an exercise to retain all that is good and avoid rampant re-development - such as the one on the old Zanzibar site - just because a building or part of the bay's infrastructure has become tatty or derelict.
While in recent years there has been a slump in the tourist industry which put paid to any more major commercial developments, there has been a gradual creep in a different kind of building. With the advent of the finance industry and big earners, the bay has become a target for the wealthy who want their modern Mediterranean style houses - and thereby are changing the character of the bay. So, it is not being anti-development, but needs to be careful and considered development.
In short, this letter is a piece of scaremongering by an individual (or group) who wish to ensure that there can be inappropriate development within the bay, and that, in fact, anything goes.  It is a developer's charter!

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