Monday, 2 February 2015

The Waterfront and Democracy

“Nothing in the world can stop me now!”, Professor Zaroff, The Underwater Menace

As I hear the Treasury Minister, Alan Maclean, announcing that nothing is going to stop the Jersey Development Company, I thought I’d make public this letter from last week’s JEP from Save Our Shoreline. It is not just occasions like Christmas when the busy time can be used to bury bad news; as Dave Cabeldu notes, it can also be used to bury planning application consultation periods. Delays may cause problems for the politicians, but that is I am afraid the price we pay for living in a democracy.

Incidentally, note what Alan Maclean said in 2008 when he stood for Senator:

"I also like the idea of quality public spaces, especially the winter garden. The practical and economic case for sinking the road will join the Waterfront to the town and produce the funds to regenerate St Helier."

There are no longer any Winter Gardens or "quality public spaces", and as Dave Cabeldu points out, the sinking of the road is something which Senator Maclean has become adept at evading. The changing goal posts, and the vagueness about when we might expect any return to the States are precisely why we need a consultation, to get something firm pinned down.

From Dave Cabeldu, co-ordinator, Save Our Shoreline Jersey.
Save Our Shoreline Jersey sent a small team of volunteers over two early morning periods last week to conduct a 'snap survey' of the opinions of Esplanade car park users on the States of Jersey Development Company's hurriedly revised phasing plans.

Ninety-eight of car park users were opposed to the changed plans and confirmed that they had not been consulted by the developers.

By Friday lunchtime over 247 individual planning objections had been sent in to the Planning department, most being uploaded in batches onto their website. Many more are on their way or waiting to be processed. The full SOS Jersey objection has also been sent in and is now available to view on the planning website.

SOS Jersey also wrote to residents in Castle Quay/Rue de l'Etau area who will be hugely affected by the diverted traffic and to make them aware of the new and recently changed phasing plans.

A further deeply concerning aspect are the remarks from the States of Jersey Development Company's chairman, Mark Boleat (JEP 10 January), regarding the forthcoming Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel Review. Mr Boleat views the States legitimate Scrutiny Review as being an irritation' and insists that the development will go ahead regardless, thus ignoring both the Planning process and the crucial States Assembly vote in 2008. The rephasing does not deliver the promised underground car, park (reduced in size from 1,420 spaces to 800) in the first phase and the significant alterations have not been brought back to the States for approval by the Chief Minister as the Assembly voted should happen, by 40 votes to one in 2008 P111, as highlighted recently by Ben Shenton.

The States of Jersey Development Company display a presumption that their planning applications are a formality. The planning process is called a 'public consultation period'. It was advertised as 21 days and this commenced on 23 December 2014 with a small advert in the JEP Gazette, and ran over the Christmas holidays. It is, therefore, not surprising that nobody surveyed knew that the plans had once again changed.

The States of Jersey Development Company have a seemingly endless supply of public money available, but not enough to properly consult the car park users, residents and the public.

The States of Jersey Development Company cannot and will not confirm whether the public will see any return on their in-vestment before 2035, or whether the main road will be sunk, despite this being the key factor in affecting the Masterplan viability. Until the road is sunk (or not) none of the promised benefits to the public will be achievable, leaving commuters, visitors, residents and public to be inconvenienced for decades to come, while paying for the privilege.

SOS Jersey suggest that the Planning Minister should formally extend the consultation period until everyone (including Members of the current States Assembly) fully understand the significant negative effects of the new proposals.

No comments: