Development of Field 621 is widely opposed.
by Jeff Hathaway
As one of the very few remaining agricultural fields along La Route de Noirmont from where you can actually see the sea, Field 621 has been the subject of much planning controversy over the last 7 years.
Recent events have caused residents to ask: “Where does it all go from here”.
They claim that until 2002, Field 621 was in the Green Zone and was a valuable early potato field. When, however, the new Island Plan was brought out in that year, it was discovered that the field, along with hundreds of others throughout the island, had been re-zoned and was now included in the new Small Built-up Area of Clos du Parcq, and was therefore, possibly a potential development site. Former St. Brelade Deputy, Alastair Layzell, one of the authors of the Plan, allayed the fears of local residents by pointing out that the field had so many safeguards attached to it in the Plan that it could never be built upon. The residents say that a study of the Island Plan easily confirms this and the first application to develop the field was rejected on these grounds.
With the selection of a new Planning Committee in 2004, however, another application was submitted. The application was again rejected but, despite the safeguards in the Island Plan, it was indicated to the developer that some ‘limited and appropriate development could be accommodated on the site.’
Against the background of public unease at the amount of development taking place in the Noirmont area, local opposition was rapidly growing to any development of Field 621.
Deputies Sarah Ferguson and Jackie Hilton took up the case and armed with a petition of 393 signatures, took the issue to the States Assembly, where following a lengthy debate the States Members overwhelmingly voted to return Field 621 to the Green Zone, thus giving it even greater protection from development.
The residents thought that that was the end of the affair. However, despite the States’ decision, despite the Island Plan’s stated objective to protect green field sites, and despite the fact that no in-principle consent had been given for development of the field, applications to develop still continued.
After several rejections, for various reasons, eventually in March, 2008, the Planning Applications Panel meeting (now held in public in the interests of promoting openness and transparent decision-making) decided to seek legal advice before making a decision on whether to allow any development or not. This advice was duly forthcoming and on 30th October, 2008 the Panel met yet again to discuss the outstanding application. The Panel voted unanimously to reject any development of the field on the grounds of principle ‘as there was no justification for making an exception to the Green Zone Policy’ and ‘that it would be inappropriate for States Members to contravene a States decision’. According to the minutes of that meeting ‘the reasons for refusal would be issued in writing’ To date, no such letter has materialised.
The most recent twist in the tale was the Panel meeting, held on 19th February, 2009 which they came to the decision that they would have to vote again
This time, although the application was again rejected, it was on the grounds of design, not principle.
The residents allege that: “The situation suggests the door is still open for further applications, and would be contrary to the statement made on October 2008”. They add: “Don’t take for granted those fields near you will remain green”