A report published today shows Jersey has a good potential supply of housing land and can meet current demand for new homes over the next five years – as long as new sites identified in proposed changes to the Island Plan are approved.
The Residential Land Availability at January 2013 report, which has been published by the Minister for Planning and Environment, Deputy Rob Duhamel, provides a snapshot of the latest available evidence of housing supply and demand.
At the start of 2013, more than 600 homes were under construction in the Island and there were planning permissions in place for a further 2,000+ homes.
The report suggests if land identified for housing does come to fruition, there could be a buffer of up to 12 per cent of housing land supply against demand. Planners consider this good news. It will make it more likely the necessary supply of homes can be met. It also means there will be more choice and competition in the market for land.
Potential supply of sites for homes include known development commitments (such as outstanding permissions and sites under construction) and sources of housing supply identified in the 2011 Island Plan interim review – currently out to public consultation until next Wednesday 25 September.
Possible sites for affordable homes include various older States rental housing sites, other surplus States-owned sites and the current proposals to rezone four glasshouse sites in Grouville, St Saviour and St Clement. It is also anticipated that there will continue to be healthy supplies of new homes from private ‘windfall’ developments.
Deputy Duhamel said: “Once again, this report reveals the important role played by the planning system in providing a framework to enable housing targets to be met and in ensuring a supply of specific deliverable sites, sufficient to provide five years worth of housing against identified requirements.
“It is important to recognise, however, that the planning system cannot control the wider economic situation or the decisions of private developers in bringing forward development sites and taking up existing planning permissions. There are also no guarantees that the States will be fully supportive of my current proposals to bring forward additional sites to help meet identified needs for affordable homes.”
The report reveals that in the last five years, despite the ongoing economic downturn, an average of about 350 homes have been developed every year. By comparison, 456 homes need to be built annually to achieve estimated targets for the next five years.
It also shows that Jersey’s planning policies have concentrated the majority of new homes (63%) in the Island’s main urban area, including St Helier and the other urban parishes.
Deputy Duhamel said: “Urban locations are generally more sustainable for new homes, because they involve previously developed land and offer benefits such as higher permissible density levels, close proximity to existing infrastructure, shops and services; good public transport, opportunities to regenerate run down areas and reduced need for trips by private car.”
However, although the outlook for housing supply is positive, the report suggests that the difficult economic climate will create challenges providing affordable homes, and homes for key workers and elderly residents.
Deputy Duhamel said: “Despite the relatively favourable outlook in terms of housing supply, there can be no room for complacency. Constant scrutiny is required, because there are numerous factors and assumptions that underlie calculations of housing demand and supply and we need to respond quickly and effectively to any changes in circumstances.”
The Minister for Planning and Environment’s recently published interim review of the Island Plan provides an updated picture of housing demand and includes revised policies and proposals for meeting that demand. In particular, it seeks to ensure that the Island Plan makes better provision for affordable homes to help less well off Islanders.
The Residential Land Availability at January 2013 report will provide more detailed evidence to inform the Island Plan Review process, including the planned Examination in Public, the work of the independent Planning Inspector and the subsequent States debate.