A report published today investigating the proposed changes to the Island Plan Review process has identified a need for greater clarity on a number of issues to ensure that the bridging plan has achievable outcomes.
Published today by Scrutiny’s Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Panel, the report identifies mixed public opinion regarding the bridging approach being proposed in place of the usual 10-year Island Plan. Whilst recognising that the extraordinary circumstances of the continuing global pandemic have led to a condensed version of the Island Plan being proposed, the Panel has found it difficult to assess whether a bridging Plan is the most suitable approach.
The review, which gathered a range of evidence, found that whilst some Islanders are in favour of the approach, others had concerns, including potential exploitation of land use, creating detrimental development opportunities. The Panel also found that the proposed Plan would include numerous policy areas to address Jersey’s development needs. However, with this came various competing priorities and it was unclear what will be scaled back or excluded from a three-year plan for it to have realistic and achievable outcomes within its lifespan.
Evidence gathered has suggested that prioritising the shortage of affordable homes will be a key element in the bridging Plan. However, it was found that providers of affordable housing cannot meet the current demand for housing and face obstacles when securing properties or land for development.
In addition, concerns were raised that the decoupling of the migration and population policy from a bridging Island Plan would mean that the Plan would not be informed by this critical aspect. Although, reassurance was provided to the Panel that the Plan will be robustly informed by various other planning assumptions.
The Panel consequently made nine recommendations to the Minister for the Environment. These include:
- To publish the deliberated options, including the rationale for determining a shorter-term Island Plan as the most suitable option.
- To provide clarity as to how the bridging Island Plan would ensure sustainable land use.
- To ensure that the public consultation period is as thorough and wide-ranging as possible.
- To proactively seek the views of affordable housing providers during the public consultation on the bridging Island Plan, to ensure that the issues they face in being able to secure land for development, and expand provision for affordable housing, are adequately addressed in the Plan’s policies.
- To prioritise the identification and provision of affordable housing sites within the public estate and to ensure appropriate sites are released for development within the lifespan of the bridging Island Plan.
- To publish the Government’s Estates Strategy prior to the adoption of a bridging Island Plan.
- To provide clarity as to how its intended outcomes will be achieved within the shortened period and how it will inter-link with the subsequent 10-year plan.
- To undertake a further communication drive explaining what it means to ‘decouple’ the migration policy from a 3-year Plan, whilst ensuring the Plan continues to be as robustly informed as possible by other planning assumptions.
- To put in place a communications strategy to assure islanders how a bridging plan will still ensure a long-term focus.
Constable Mike Jackson, Chair of the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Panel said: “In many regards, the Government’s ambition to deliver a full plan in a shorter timeframe is to be commended. However, there is a very real risk that not much will be achieved in a condensed period of three years. It is the Panel’s view that a three-year plan would need to be scaled back considerably in comparison to that of a ten-year plan, yet the evidence shows us that the bridging Island Plan will still contain a vast number of the significant components that a full plan would. We would not argue that they are all important components, however, we believe it needs to be made clear in the plan exactly how everything that it intends to achieve – will be achieved.”
News Release by Scrutiny’s Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Panel.