The news that Le Masurier has announced the withdrawal of their plans for ‘Parkside Village’ on Bath Street has been met with dismay by the Jersey Construction Council (JeCC).
The decision was made due to a lack of confidence in the States of Jersey Planning Department after the States failed to agree a development brief with Le Masurier.
Martin Holmes, Chairman of the JeCC, the construction industry’s representative body, said: “We are very disappointed that plans for this significant investment in an area of St Helier that is badly in need of regeneration appears to have fallen at the first hurdle. Private sector investment of this magnitude from a local business committed to using local construction resources would have been a vital boost for our industry.
Projects of this size completed over a number of years gives our members known and secured workload that generates confidence to invest in a sustainable industry through initiatives such as apprenticeships.
Plans for Parkside Village had included homes, including much needed affordable housing, amenities, a new pedestrian link to the Town Park, short-stay shoppers car parking, shops and cafes and was expected to deliver a considerable boost to the Island economy.
Le Masurier have been working towards agreeing a development brief, having been invited to do so by Planning, over the last year and a ‘draft’ brief was agreed with the Planning Minister and Officers in July and put out to public consultation (Department of the Environment consultation paper, 16/7/12). The response from the public was very positive, including strong support from the Parish of St Helier and the Chamber of Commerce.
However Planning Officers delivered a re-written brief with wholesale changes (1st November 2012) leaving Le Masurier with no choice but to cancel their plans.
“The regeneration of this area as envisaged by the North of St Helier Master Plan is wholly dependent on the successful engagement between the Planning Department and private landowners and if one of the principal stakeholders is withdrawing from the process at this early stage based on a complete lack of confidence in the planning process it must raise serious questions regarding the role of planning as an economic enabler
‘Le Masurier has been trying tried to regenerate the area since with a 2006 with a planning application which was undetermined but more recently the fact that development of the area has been encouraged by the Planning department and the draft development brief had been so positively received, it now seems incredulous that the apparent actions of Planning have caused the withdrawal of what would have been a significant £75 million investment which would have benefited so many.
At a time when much work is been done by government to encourage inward investment to Jersey it is particularly disappointing that £75m appears to be heading off the island.”
The Jersey Construction Council is of the opinion that a full inquiry is required to understand what has gone wrong and why this opportunity of investment has been lost Martin Holmes concluded.
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