Is the States Assembly Obselete?

Colour-Sup01569780_CroppedGovernment not respecting spirit of propositions, nor delivering promises made.

 Just before Christmas, with my Co-op hat on, I was at the Planning Meeting dealing with the Charing Cross application. This was approved and quite rightly the Planning Department insisted on numerous stipulations to ensure that we kept to our word regarding the heritage buildings – which we shall.

 These planning ‘conditions’ are designed to ensure that what was agreed is actually delivered. Whilst watching proceedings I considered the weakness of the way the States operates inasmuch as there is nothing similar to ensure that promises made during a debate ever come to fruition. For example:

 In 1997 (P.40) £20 million was transferred to WEB from us, the Islanders, to finance Waterfront capital projects. In exchange the public were promised an underground car park and the income from it in perpetuity. Unfortunately WEB quickly hit cash flow difficulties and the car park income has been retained by them ever since it was built. To this day parking charges are used to pay the SoJDC salaries and finance their assault on the private sector, rather than reduce our tax burden.

 In 1999 (P.92) Islanders agreed to lease 8 vergees of land to WEB/JDC. In return the public would get a leisure pool, a six-lane 25 metre competition pool, and taxpayers losses capped at £50,000. What transpired was the taxpayer picking up losses of over £400,000 per annum, and no competition pool.

 In 2008 (P.60) the States passed the Waterfront Masterplan. Rather helpfully the Bailiff was asked to clarify what we were agreeing to as politicians. His reply was;” The Assembly is debating the overall architectural scheme, the sinking of the road and matters of that kind. “ During the debate we were promised no taxpayer risk, a £95 million bond, and a holistic scheme which would not involve ad-hoc building.

 Also in 2008, P.111 was passed by 40 votes to 1. It stated that no development agreement should be signed by WEB/JDC in relation to the proposed Esplanade Quarter until the details of the proposed development agreement have been presented to the States by the Chief Minister and approved by the Assembly.

 In 2011, by 26 vote to 21, the States Assembly ruled that the future for the La Galots / La Folie area should be ultimately determined by the States Assembly through a masterplan. This demand has been completely ignored.

 In other words the sanctity of the States Assembly is not being respected. And this brings me back to my original point. There is no one to check that what the politicians agreed to in the States Assembly is actually delivered. So maybe we need to tighten up how we monitor political ‘conditions’ and look more closely at the performance of those charged with executing policy. It would be nice to have a Government that took into account the ‘spirit’ of a proposition, rather than look to twist the wording to ensure non-compliance.
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The States are asked to decide whether they are of opinion to request the Minister for Treasury and Resources not to allow any commitment to be made by the States of Jersey Development Company (S.o.J.D.C.) formerly known as the Waterfront Development Board, in respect of;
(a) the development or sale of any part of the Esplanade Quarter; and
(b) the development or sale of any part of the areas known as La Folie, Les Galots and the sites occupied by the Jersey Rowing Club until the future of these sites has been determined by the new States Assembly in 2012.
THIS PART OF THE PROPOSITION WAS ADOPTED BY THE STATES ASSEMBLY YET NO MASTERPLAN OR PROPOSITION WAS EVER TAKEN BACK TO THE ASSEMBLY FOR APPROVAL.

“It would be nice to have a Government that took into account the ‘spirit’ of a proposition, rather than look to twist the wording to ensure non-compliance.”

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“The facts about the plans for La Folie are that it would be turned into a range of small and medium sized fisherman style cottages and apartments ranging in price, not luxury, from £250,000 to £700,000. That is not luxury development. Incidentally it includes a walkway around it, so people can enjoy the harbour at the same time.”

Planning Minister – Deputy Luce
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STATES ASSEMBLY
Debate 6th /7th December 2011 – THIS DEBATE TOOK PLACE AFTER THE ISLAND PLAN HAD BEEN AGREED.
11. St. Helier Waterfront: development (P.175/2011)
The Greffier of the States (in the Chair):
We come, therefore, to P.175, St. Helier Waterfront: development in the name of the Connétable of St. Helier. I will ask the Greffier to read the proposition.
The Deputy Greffier of the States:
The States are asked to decide whether they are of opinion to request the Minister for Treasury and Resources not to allow any commitment to be made by the States of Jersey Development Company (S.o.J.D.C.) formerly known as the Waterfront Development Board, in respect of;
(a) the development or sale of any part of the Esplanade Quarter; and
(b) the development or sale of any part of the areas known as La Folie, Les Galots and the sites occupied by the Jersey Rowing Club until the future of these sites has been determined by the new States Assembly in 2012.

(Note: Part B was agreed 26 votes to 21. The States Assembly sent a clear message that the development of La Folie and Les Galots had to come back to the Assembly. Perhaps (!) to get around this the responsibility for the land was not transferred to S.o.J.D.C. as intended. Therefore commitments could be made by Property Holdings and the new Maritime Trust without the need to go back to the States – as the proposition specified S.o.J.D.C. During the debate, and in written comments by the Council of Ministers at the time, the proposed transfer to S.o.J.D.C was never questioned
This ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach continued in the plans for the development, which are inside the La Collette danger area. The site can be used by the Sea Cadets in accordance with the Island Plan. To extend the use beyond this you have to take a very loose definition of ‘community facilities’ (Office Flat Hubs!!!), completely misinterpret ‘enabling policy’, and – basically – drive a bus through the letter and spirit of the planning law. Overnight or permanent accomodation is not allowed on this site. Furthermore you need to completely ignore the wishes of your fellow politicians in the States Assembly.
If you have the time read the attached.)
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The Proposition that was passed by the States Assembly :
La Folie and Les Galots – Constable of St Helier
The reasons behind the closure of La Folie public house many years ago have remained a mystery to Islanders, though not a surprise given that it is not the only site that has languished in such a way. (The reason for such delays, a cynic might suggest, is in order to make it more difficult for people to raise objections to the inappropriate development of these sites when they are eventually brought forward.) More recently, the marine industries occupying the sheds on the harbour frontage of the site have been moved out, without any new marine uses being considered there. At a recent meeting of the SoJDC, it was proposed that the La Folie site be developed for luxury housing, with private moorings, if possible, to make the properties more saleable. The funds raised, it was argued, could be used to supply much-needed housing as part of an overall plan for the development of the harbours.

States Members have also been written to by the Chair of the Jersey Rowing Club, who have been advised that their clubhouse, boat park and slipway (including the area known as Les Galots) may be lost to development, while in addition, the need for a new home for the Sea Scouts has been highlighted. The development of luxury housing beside the harbour may be in the best interests of the Jersey community, though I doubt it; however, it is surely to be expected that the States Assembly engages in the due processes of public consultation and political debate about the future of La Folie, Les Galots; the future of Jersey’s marine clubs, leisure pursuits and industries; and the future of the harbour as a whole, before SoJDC expends further sums on what may prove to be abortive designs.

For these reasons, I urge the States to agree that the Minister for Treasury and Resources should not consent to the disposal of any part of La Folie and Les Galots sites, until the future of these areas has been reviewed by the new States’ Assembly next year.
The Comments from the Council of Ministers
ST. HELIER WATERFRONT:
DEVELOPMENT (P.175/2011) –
COMMENTS
Presented to the States on 5th December 2011
by the Council of Ministers
La Folie and Les Galots
It has been reported to meetings of the RSG, attended by the Connétable of St. Helier, that the Environment Department is progressing a number of Development Briefs that involve feeding the planning policy and responses from statutory consultees on La Folie and Les Galots. It was agreed by the RSG that the requirements of the Jersey Rowing Club and the Sea Cadets should be considered within the context of the regeneration of La Folie and Les Galots.

Subject to the receipt of a development brief from the Environment Department, the RSG has approved the use of La Folie as a residential development site. This will include the complete regeneration of La Folie and its surrounding listed buildings. The development of La Folie could commence by the end of 2012 and would mitigate further decay.

The Island Plan approved by SOJ in 2011 has designated Les Galots for community uses, and the RSG has committed to these uses including the requirements of the  Jersey Rowing Club and the Sea Cadets.
Any community needs at Les Galots and La Folie will need to be taken into account in the planning brief. Les Galots is now zoned in part for community use. The States have already expressed a view on this site through the Island Plan debate, and have given a firm indication on what they would like to see there. No other amendments were made to the key principles of the plan in St. Helier, and therefore re-designating land for other uses (such as a central park) should really run through an Island Plan amendment debate and not independently.

Jersey Harbours
The States Trading Operation, Jersey Harbours, is responsible for ‘the administration, management, operation, financing, development and maintenance of the harbours of Jersey and their associated facilities’. The word ‘harbour’ includes ‘… pier, jetty or quay’; the site referred to at La Folie therefore falls under the administration of Jersey Harbours.

In 2004, the then Harbours and Airport Committee agreed to release the licensee of La Folie from his contract due to a downturn in business. At the time, as the property was included in the Jersey Harbours Masterplan, it was not considered appropriate to enter into a long-term lease without any assurance of redevelopment. Consequently, it was proposed that a 3 to 5 year lease agreement with a new tenant be secured.

Expressions of interest were received and a preferred developer selected, however unfortunately this developer failed to deliver and the planning process ended. In 2006, the site was re-advertised for a short-term lease; the long-term aim always being to redevelop the whole area. This process failed to find a suitable tenant, as the building requires significant investment to make a return. The decision was then taken not to seek a short-term tenant as plans were being developed which would require the entire La Folie site to be vacated.

The workshops behind the pub were re-located to the former Harbour Works building in 2009, and Masterplans started to be drawn up by Jersey Harbours, WEB and Property Holdings, with the intention of maximising the value of the whole site for marine leisure in the long term.

Summary
The Council of Ministers urges the Assembly to reject this proposition and request the Connétable of St. Helier to engage in due process. This process has already been approved by the States in P.73/2010, which established the RSG and SOJDC. As a member of the RSG, the Connétable can make his comments known on all developments within that forum.

The Debate – A Summary – concentrating on La Galots and La Folie comments.

11.1 The Connétable of St. Helier:
I came to write this project because I attended a meeting of this steering group at which I heard for the first time of proposals to develop luxury housing on the site of La Folie with moorings for those lucky enough to buy these houses. I wanted to point out that possibly that was not such a good idea, given the tidal range, but we have so many people from the mainland working for us now, perhaps they had not noticed the tidal drop. But I was really concerned about it and I did, contrary to the comments, express my concern at that meeting and I asked for them to be minuted: that I was not happy with the idea of this part of St. Helier being turned into luxury housing. In due course, I communicated my disquiet with the media and Members will have seen, particularly in the paper, a great deal of concern at every level: from the public, from the editor, from writers into the paper. What I did next – and this may surprise some Members – I consulted the marine industry. I wrote to every person I could think of connected with the marine industry and I said to them: “Look, I may be wrong, luxury housing may be the best use of La Folie site, what do you think?” I have had an enormous post bag. I am not going to read all of the comments but every person that you associate with the marine industry – possibly except now the Deputy of St. Martin, but everybody else you associate with the marine industry – has come back to me and said: “Please, no, not luxury housing at La Folie.” The first one, I am just going to refer to suggests, or refers to, way back in the 19th century when we had somewhere in St. Helier an aquarium and he quotes from a guidebook of 1894 about how lucky St. Helier is to have this wonderful aquarium and he goes on to conclude: “We fully support the Constable’s effort to put La Folie site to cultural use. It is hard to imagine an area within the Port of St. Helier with greater heritage, sitting as it does between the original English and French harbours.” Save Our Shoreline corresponded on this particular matter saying that: “It would be great to keep La Folie alive with a cultural focus as opposed to any other. It is a great pity that, despite our heritage in the subject, we have no true marine science headquarters on the Island.” Another person in the industry said: “My views on the proposal are that any development should take into account the fact that area is situated in and among a commercial and leisure marine services industry. Residential premises will be wholly inappropriate. They would certainly enable the States to maximise the value of the site but, once built, would not generate any jobs for workers in the marine industry. If the States are to be serious in their attempts to lower unemployment and create more jobs in existing local industries, such as the commercial and leisure marine industry, then a development in an area where marine services would be suitably located might be a good place to begin.” A lady who has done a lot of work in promoting Jersey’s maritime heritage with her wonderful films shot under water and so on, again wrote to me and said that: “La Folie deserves to be kept in some kind of cultural use to support allied marine activities” and she says she would welcome discussion – open discussion – about possible plans. A former Deputy, always associated with the fishing industry – you might expect him perhaps to be a bit more outspoken than some of the non ex-States Members – said: “Personally, I feel it would make an outstanding site for a dedicated fish restaurant with al fresco eating, looking out over the harbour, and this could rapidly become very well known, but I realise the States want to squeeze every penny out of land that they own.” Finally, the President of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association says: “My honest feeling is we do not need luxury apartments all that desperately even if, from a developer’s perspective, that is the best option. The Island has a vibrant marine leisure and commercial industry, this is indisputable, and it is part of what makes Jersey what it is, beyond the image of a finance centre which, of course, does not attract visitors. It is my view that we seem to be able to conceive great ideas for marinas, et cetera, on the Waterfront but frequently forget that a flourishing or growing marine industry requires a land-based sector to service and support the boats and people afloat. I think La Folie with its existing façade would make a grand retail café or restaurant centre that will benefit the Island and be well-supported way beyond the value associated with flats or apartments.” That was not the final one, sorry, the final one is from another local person who has made a career in the marine industry and he writes: “The glaring, obvious issue is that of diversification of the economy. If the inhabitants of this luxury housing want to buy and run boats, for instance, who will service them and from where? Are we going to see small industrial units popping up in residential areas? The diversification card from Economic Development is shallow and token.” I apologise to the Minister, I should not have read that bit: I need his support for this. He goes on: “If La Folie site is lost to luxury housing, all is effectively lost, no diversification is really expected, the finance industry and associated requirements are all that the States wish to promote, despite other protestations.” I begin with La Folie because it seems to me the less contentious of the 2 parts of my proposition. What I am asking the States to agree, in view of that unanimous response I have had, I literally have not had anybody approach me and say they want to see La Folie turned into housing, and what I am asking the States to agree is that we should not allow S.o.J.D.C. to sign any contracts until this Assembly has debated the future of the marine services industry and particularly the future of this area which we used to call East of Albert around the harbour. I think that is a very reasonable proposal, it does not have any lost income associated with it, we have not had presentations from S.o.J.D.C. about this particular aspect of the proposal, and I hope that that will be passed with a good majority.

The Bailiff:
Is the proposition seconded? [Seconded]. Do you wish to speak on the proposition, Senator Ozouf?
11.1.1 Senator P.F.C. Ozouf:
You could say that this is almost the first major debate of this new Assembly and new Members are, no doubt, finding their feet or finding their seats and they are learning how to contribute to the debate. The Constable of St. Helier is a really good speaker; he spoke eloquently in his proposal of this proposition, as he also clearly electrified a number of Members when he stood for P.P.C. The thing, if I may say, about speaking in this Assembly is that it is important not to be propelled along by necessarily a powerful speaker during just the debate, one has to deconstruct the arguments that the speaker has put forward and really test those arguments, and I would urge those new Members who may have been conveyed along [Laughter] by a persuasive Constable of St. Helier to bear with other Members who may have a different and an important point of view and, no doubt, Deputy Le Hérissier will be listening attentively to these deconstructing arguments. I want to, if I may, concentrate primarily on the issue of Esplanade Square. I could speak about La Folie, I could point out that La Folie, as far as I originally understood it to be, was a housing site which only was 20 per cent of that site, originally it was commercial, there are all sorts of issues, but I am going to leave it to the harbour authorities in order to discuss La Folie and explain why they should be allowed to continue with La Folie without the Constable’s proposal.
11.1.2 Deputy R.C. Duhamel:
Although a development brief is presently being prepared by my department officers for La Folie, what has not happened – and I think this is perhaps at the root of the Constable’s proposition – is that certainty has not been brought to the House through the planning process as a wholesale masterplan for that particular area being established and endorsed in the way that the previous Minister for Planning and Environment did so with the masterplan and the North of Town Masterplan. I think, until it does, the jury must still be out. In fact, comments that were made in another place suggested that 2 masterplans, probably diametrically opposed, had been prepared by 2 other bodies who were interested in the development of this particular area. We do have in the comments of the Council of Ministers the suggestion that the Economic Development Department in looking at their own ideas for this particular area, suggested that perhaps the area should be set aside for marine leisure whereas the W.E.B. (Waterfront Enterprise Board) body, or their successor body, the States of Jersey Development Company, have suggested something different in that perhaps it should better used for fancy housing. In both instances, I am not at all convinced or confident that the Minister for Planning and Environment’s point of view has been discussed at all. Where does that leave me as the Minister for Planning and Environment? I think that I must, in a short period of time, come forward to this House with a masterplan for this particular area and I will offer the House that perhaps as a suggestion and perhaps as a justification as to why perhaps part (b) should be supported. It is quite clear that (a), I think, falls because we do have a masterplan until it is overturned and (b), on the basis that we do not have a masterplan, probably should be supported to allow the Minister for Planning and Development the luxury of time to put in the missing piece of the jigsaw to everybody’s satisfaction.
11.1.3 Deputy J.H. Young:
I rise to support the proposition which I do not see as, as it were, a wrecking proposition seeking to push the project into the long grass, nor do I see it as a choice between private and public sector schemes. I think there are important issues of principle about the planning vision of that site and the masterplan … which I would seek the Assembly’s tolerance for me to just cover one or 2 key points, if I may. We have an Island site which at the moment does not link anywhere and there is no footfall through the site to draw it through the Waterfront. The States approved the Hopkins Masterplan as a solution, and a glance at that shows that the Esplanade site was going to be developed as an integral whole with the West of Albert. That coherent whole is absolutely important, so much so that that was the basis of which the agreement that was given by the States to the current Masterplan in P.60 of 2008 on 4th June, which endorsed all those Minister for Planning and Environment’s recommendations and the Masterplan.
Senator F. du H. Le Gresley:
With regard to part (b) of the proposition, I tend to agree with the Minister for Planning and Environment that a masterplan or development plan for the area commonly known as East of Albert should be produced by his department before any application can be considered and therefore I feel able to support that part of the Constable’s proposition.
1.1.6 Deputy S.G. Luce of St. Martin: (Now Planning Minister)
When I scanned through the order of public business before this sitting started, I was not expecting to speak but when the Constable of St. Helier singled me out for personal selection during his proposition speech my brain immediately said to me: “Oh dear, you are probably going to have to say something now.” My immediate reaction was that I am probably going to be able to just stand up and agree with everybody who had spoken before me but after yesterday afternoon it became apparent that that was not the case. For me there was one sentence in the proposition which doomed it to failure. That was the last sentence which says: “… until the future of these sites has been determined by the new States Assembly.” I am not as young as I would like to be but I can still remember going to the old abattoir site for the purposes for which it was built. In 1982 the new abattoir site was opened and it seems to me that in the remaining 30 years this Chamber has argued about what was to happen to the site that fell into disuse. Only very recently have we seen it being used for any commercial purposes and I have to say that the public of this Island are fed up with looking at States-owned property lying empty all over this Island. The St. James’ site, the Girls’ College, the large part of the original St. Saviour’s Hospital and the La Folie site. With the La Folie site I get a sense of déjà vu with the old abattoir. It has been empty for far too long, no income to the States whatsoever; these sites are nothing less than a disgrace really and the public want to know why we are not making use of them as we should. Something must be done. The La Folie site; yes, I agree, a centre for cultural focus, public access, a restaurant, a pub, a hotel, maybe some housing. The problem is that we can agree with all those but we are not doing anything about it. I welcome the Minister for Planning and Development’s statement yesterday that he is going to come up with a masterplan for the area but we already have a masterplan for the harbour area. Members will know, or at least I hope they know, that I am committed to the regeneration of the harbour. I am committed to increasing the size of our marine leisure industry and that involves flooding, hopefully, making large marinas in the existing harbour and that involves moving commercial activity from the new North Quay to new facilities to be built at La Collette. It is a 20, 30, 40-year plan but it seems to me that because of the length and the size of the scheme it puts Members off making decisions to get on and start to do it. In reality it would be great for the Island to be able to reduce our freight costs and that would affect everyone on the Island. We could do that with a new harbour where we could bring in bigger boats. I fear that this proposition and that last particular sentence as I mentioned it is setting us back yet again. This House is not good at making planning decisions and that, I feel, is why we stood back or the House stood back before I was here and formed the S.o.J.D.C. to let them get on with it.
Members who have spoken in support of the proposition have made their comments, of course, with the best intentions. But there is so much at stake here. Even the comments about luxury housing at La Folie with private moorings are simply not true. The Constable of St. Helier sat next to me at the Regeneration Steering Group. He made no mention of the fact that he was opposed to that particular development and for those reasons. La Folie by name, folly by nature. It is a large building in a very poor state of repair. In the distant past when it was a tiny fishermen’s pub it struggled to make money. Yes, it would be lovely to turn it into a restaurant or a museum or perhaps another leisure facility. But how realistic are those options, particularly in this climate and particularly on such a valuable site? Indeed, where is the demand? Who would invest in it? It has been available, after all, since 2004. The facts about the plans for La Folie are that it would be turned into a range of small and medium sized fisherman style cottages and apartments ranging in price, not luxury, from £250,000 to £700,000. That is not luxury development. Incidentally it includes a walkway around it, so people can enjoy the harbour at the same time. I should also point out that funds generated from this development, from La Folie, will return to the port. They will not go into the general Treasury coffers. They are returning to the port and they will fund capital projects and marine leisure. Marine leisure – which of course the Connétable made a great play about and rightly so – is important. It did remind me, of course, it was only a few years ago that the Connétable himself was a supporter of the skateboard park. That did not particularly support marine leisure, being situated as it is right next door to the visitor berths, who have to from time to time suffer skateboards and other instruments being thrown over the side into the harbour.
St. Helier boat owners had their A.G.M. (Annual General Meeting) last night. I asked the Harbours Department who were represented at the meeting to raise the point about La Folie. I thought it was important. The Connétable said he has had many letters. Many letters all supporting the fact that La Folie should remain for small traders with the marine leisure industry. They had misinformation they had picked up. They thought it was going to be a luxury development, as we heard in this Assembly yesterday. When the facts were presented, the association made no objections. They understood, in fact, that small traders had been situated behind the now redundant La Folie pub. In 2009 they were moved. They were moved to more appropriate facilities along the way. That is exactly as it should be. We should look after our small traders and we should make sure they had the right facilities to be able to trade appropriately. The best use for this site has been considered by the Harbours Department.
1.1.16 Senator I.J. Gorst:
Part (b), the site around La Folie and Les Galots was discussed as part of the Island Plan earlier this year. I know that, because I had an amendment, although I was out of the Island when it was discussed, to the Island Plan to designate part of this area for community use. That community use, I suggested, should be for the sea cadets and for the rowing club. I am grateful to the Member who brought forward that amendment in my absence and I am grateful to Members for their overwhelming support that part of that area should be for community use. Why do I raise that? First of all let me say I do have, or have in the past had, a slight conflict of interest, serving as a member of the committee of management for the sea cadets. I no longer do that. I believe it is absolutely, critically important that we do resolve the problem of where the sea cadets are going to operate from in the future. They are currently occupying a site at Fort Regent, which is not fit for purpose, which requires quite a large investment to bring it up to fit for purpose use. That would not be a good use of money. We need to resolve this problem once and for all. There are 2 wins. There is a win for the sea cadets going down to the shoreline and there is also a win for future regeneration and redevelopment of Fort Regent, which I believe also needs to be a priority for us to tackle over the next 3 years. The Minister for Planning and Environment is right, he should be allowed to prepare his development briefs for this area, obviously, within the wider context of the whole marine area down there. I fear that the wording of this proposition might mean that once again his hands are tied. We should not be doing such a thing. On balance, and I recognise the difficulty as I said when I started, that we all have preconceived ideas about what should happen at the Waterfront. But on balance, I believe that this staged approach we can accept, because I think that most of us agree with what is being proposed on the Waterfront and some of the changes that need to take place down at La Folie and another day is the day to make the decision around the sinking of the road. Commitments have already been given on that and future development. So, I ask that we do not stand in the way of this necessary work, this necessary fiscal stimulus. The desire of business and Financial Services Industry to move to modern fit for purpose buildings. I ask Members on balance to reject both parts of the Connétable of St. Helier’s proposition. Sir, thank you.
Deputy J.M. Maçon of St. Saviour:
Sir, if I can pose a point of clarification to the Chief Minister, please? The Chief Minister said that we would be putting the S.o.J.D.C. in a strange position if we were to go ahead and say that we do not want them to go ahead with the phased development. But with the undertaking that this Assembly made in the adoption of P.77/2009, have we not already put them in that situation? Therefore, I am seeking a point of clarification from the Minister about how he feels we are not in that position with adoption of P.77. Thank you, Sir.
Senator I.J. Gorst:
I know that the Deputy circulated an email last night. I do not have it in front of me, so I cannot confirm one way or the other. But I understand that that was in relation to the developer that was in place at that time. That developer is no longer in place. I might be misinterpreting that.
Deputy J.M. Maçon:
I would pass it to another Member, but I did read it out that, yes, it did in the first part talk about a Harcourt development at the time, however it did go on with an “and” clause and the other proposals to the development. So, it was not developed as specific, it included the whole development. Thank you, Sir.
Senator I.J. Gorst:
If it helps, P.77 says: “To agree that the development of the proposed Esplanade Quarter and the areas of the St. Helier’s Waterfront, including the sinking of the road, should be deferred until there is a significant improvement in the economic situation in Jersey.” It does not mention any individual development company at all. It was adopted.
The Bailiff:
I am informed by the Greffier that in fact the proposition was amended and you were reading out the unamended form.
Senator I.J. Gorst:
Sir, I think I was responsible for the amendment.
Deputy J.M. Maçon:
Sorry, to interrupt. The amendment did go in, but it said the Harcourt development came in before the “and” of the rest of the proposal. So, that it was the Harcourt development and everything that was on that site.
The Bailiff:
This is a point of clarification which, so far as I am concerned, has clarified very little. So, I suggest we move on. Does any other Member wish to speak? Very well, I call upon the Connétable of St. Helier to reply.
1.1.17 Connétable A.S. Crowcroft of St. Helier:
Before I get underway, I suppose I take an interest now that I have the chairmanship of Privileges and Procedures to see how the States operates. Maybe it is also because I am sitting closer to the Senatorial benches and this whole business of when you speak, which Deputy Southern mentioned earlier on, when you put your finger on the button clearly needs to be looked at if we are going to manage our affairs in perhaps a more open way. That is an aside. I am just going to whiz fairly quickly through the main contributions. I will probably not speak about everyone. So, apologies if I do not mention them all. It has been a very interesting debate. I think it has been certainly well-worth having. It is the first major debate of the new Assembly. I think those new Members who took the plunge and got those maiden speeches in early deserve to be congratulated, even if I did not agree with both of them. It has also been interesting because I think it strayed almost perilously close to the old way of doing things. There were a few remarks which I thought went a little bit close to the personal. But it has been pretty well controlled. The Minister for Treasury and Resources perhaps did not get off to a good start when he suggested I had no business being on the Regeneration Steering Group anyway. There seemed to be some problem that I was ultra vires. Certainly I was invited, I had all the paperwork and I turned up. Whether I will be invited again remains to be seen. He accused me of scaremongering on the issue of parking under banks. Well, I picked that up during one of the last debates on the original scheme. I think I remember being reassured it would not be a problem, because the public parking would not be going under the finance houses in the original scheme. It would be going under the public areas. Indeed, when I mentioned it to the new managing director he agreed with me and he said it was not ideal. So, those are not my words, those are words that are ringing in my ears, because I had the meeting with him only a couple of days ago. No Member has referred to the fact that if we allow a phased development like this then these new blue chip clients are going to be in a building site at least for some of the future, because if it is true that we are going to develop the rest of the Esplanade Quarter, then it is going to be a building site. I understand from the look I had with the managing director that even the first unit, which they think they may have a tenant for, that will go ahead and then the other units in Phase 1A will be built subsequently. So, there is an issue about it being a building site for those new clients. I wonder whether that will prejudice whether we get them or not. The Minister also asked me how far I want to go. Several Members asked this. I will perhaps deal with my vision at the end, because I do not want to do it more than once. The hospital perhaps was unfortunate that I raised that. It was just one of the uses that this land could be put to. Of course, it is in the report which accompanies the proposition. It is not the major plank of my argument, as one of the speakers says. It is simply one of the possibilities that the States may wish to look at. That is in the fifth paragraph of my report; one potential use and there are, of course, others. We were also told by the Minister for Treasury and Resources and by a few other Ministers that if we do not go ahead with this we may lose a key player in the financial services industry. This is the kind of gun-to-the-head tactic that I have heard many, many times. I remember hearing it when I brought a rescindment proposition. It never got debated. I rue the day that I tried to stop the leisure pool. I wrote a carefully researched proposition and was persuaded, being a young Member – very wet behind the ears, I think – that all would be well and we would lose this major investment in our tourism industry if we did not go down this road. How wrong I was. That clearly financially has not stacked-up at all. I do not believe that we will lose a key player if we decide to take a short … Members should look at the proposition. It says: “Until the future of these sites has been decided by the new States Assembly in 2012.” It does not say in 20 years’ time. It says next year. I think there are good reasons for doing that. The Minister for Planning and Environment, as did several other Ministers, said that we have a masterplan and it has not changed. Well, I thought Deputy Young in his maiden speech dealt very well with that – perhaps the best comment – on the fact that we are not anymore talking about the masterplan adopted in 2008. I am indebted to Deputy Le Fondré for his well-researched speech and the fact that he went back to Hansard. Let me tell Members, just because it is in Hansard does not stop it being hot air. [Laughter] The fact is that vision that was sold to us; it really has evaporated. I spoke to the managing director about this undercroft. That has gone, because that required the retail to make it work. That is why it has gone. A lot of that initial vision that was sold to us has, I am afraid – and it is inevitable with changing circumstances – been lost. But the Minister for Planning and Environment is still, he says, going to oppose the proposition even though it would seem to me that as Minister for Planning and Environment for him to come back with a revised masterplan for the Esplanade Quarter, as indeed he said he will do for the La Folie site, will be absolutely in his interest to do that. I have already referred to Deputy Young. Again, I think he did a great maiden speech. He took us back further than the Esplanade Quarter debate to the Waterfront 2000 – a public inquiry was involved in that; very interesting. The vision of a united Waterfront, united with the old town. I thought that was very valuable, because there is a real risk here – Members have said there is no risk – a very real risk, that we will never link-up the Waterfront with the town if we embark on a phased development of this site. He said it was an integral part. He raised the question several members referred to: “Is there enough money to cover the road if we start on a piecemeal development? What is going to happen to that £20 million?” Several Members of the Council of Ministers said they want it for the hospital or they want it for the capital programme. It will not be available for the road. Deputy Young said we should pause to ask the Minister for Planning and Environment how the overall scheme will deliver the links. That is the Minister for Planning and Environment saying that, not me. Deputy Martin talked about speculating with taxpayers’ money. At this point there were mutters to my right. It is not going to cost us anything. It is, of course, a very valuable piece of land indeed. We have already expended huge sums of money on creating it. To go back to Mark Twain, we have made land. It is not cheap to make land. It is a very valuable asset. One of the key points I have been trying to make – I tried to make it in my report, I tried to make it in my speech – was that if you do not absolutely have to use a piece of land right in the heart of town, why use it? Why not bank it and keep it in the bank until you really need it? That was an argument I remember the former Member, Dick Shenton, made about the whole of West of Albert. He said: “Let us grass it over and keep it for the future; maybe 20 years, maybe 50 years and see what the community of Jersey wants to do with that in the future.” There are many people who think he was right. Deputy Maçon made perhaps the most significant contribution to the debate; an excellent speech – short. He asked a question which I do not think has really ever been asked in the time I have been in the Assembly, which is what happens when the States agrees to do something? We know we have a register of laws, because we know that when we pass a law that goes on to a book and there is a list of them and you cannot then break them. What the States is very good at doing is agreeing to do something and then forgetting all about it. Deputy Maçon very helpfully followed up his speech with an email to Members last night. He took us back to a couple of previous debates – he did not go back 20 years, perhaps just as well or he would be looking very haggard this morning – and he reminded us that only this year we voted against a phased development. So, what are we doing now? Before that, of course, we took a different decision. The answer to his question, and he did say what does that mean, as far as I understand it, I stand to be corrected by you, Sir, or by the Attorney General, the States can simply ignore their decisions. And they do. If he has more spare time, I would encourage him to go back through Hansard and find out how many decisions we have made, how many important decisions we have taken, which we have simply disregarded.
[12:00] I think there are probably quite a lot. Deputy Power has painted a rather dystopian vision of the future of this area with the disappearance of the public realm; and of course he was not talking so much about the retail as the fact that with those public areas you bring a place to life. It gives me a chance at this point just to correct something I said in my report, and I do apologise because I think in the beginning of my report I was rather rude about all of the provision on the new Waterfront. I said it is all rubbish and of course it is not, and I try to correct that in my second paragraph where I say that individual components offer a number of high quality and much needed facilities. The reason I want to say that is I only recently had a look at the Chart Room which has been provided as part of Castle Quay, and what a fantastic and generous piece of covered open space that is for the public and I encourage Members to have a look at it when it opens. But to go back to Deputy Power, that is what he is worried about, that if you simply put these office blocks on Phase 1A of the masterplan you are not going to have a Chart Room created as part of a planning obligation. You are not going to have the restaurants; okay, some of them are empty at the moment at Castle Quay but I am sure they will find occupiers soon. He is concerned about that but what the Deputy is really concerned about I think is the danger of a piecemeal approach, the danger of throwing out the old masterplan is that you do not have that holistic vision that the former Minister for Planning and Environment sold to us. The Constable of Grouville spoke next; I do not think he needed to declare an interest as a former member of W.E.B. particularly but he said we could put the hospital elsewhere, such as on the former J.C.G. (Jersey College for Girls) which of course is earmarked for housing and that I believe is a building which is moving forwards soon. But his opposition to part (b) seemed to me illogical because like the Chief Minister who spoke last, he said he wanted to see the Sea Scouts accommodated. I am going to take these in separate votes but let me just deal with the Sea Scouts issue and I am going to turn to the Chief Minister’s remarks on this as well. If you do not support part (b) of this proposition, in other words you allow commitments to be made to develop the La Folie site for housing you shut down the options for the relocation of the Sea Scouts. While La Folie remains on the drawing board, while it remains in the gift of the Minister for Planning and Development to include it in his masterplan, it can be used as one of the solutions for the accommodation of the Sea Scouts. If we build houses on it I am afraid the people who are going to suffer are the rowing club because I have been to see them, they contacted States Members, I went down, had a quick row, bruised my knuckles terribly; and the message that came out from the rowing club is: “It ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The rowing club is working extremely well at the moment and they do not want to be relocated. If you develop La Folie then you are going to shut down the options for the development of that part of the Waterfront. I now come back to Senator Le Gresley and I struggled a bit with his speech, he wants us to treat our development company as any other private company; at times he sounded a bit like an apologist for the development company. There is surely a difference between S.o.J.D.C. and every other business. A couple of Members referred to it; the Constable of St. John talked about a local company that pays taxes and employs local people. The fact is that a number of local firms are working on providing the offices that we are in this race to provide, they are working to do that and so it is not quite the same. It is a bit like the utility companies, they are at arms length but people get upset about the fact they have to pay such high bills and they look at us as States Members and say: “Well I thought you owned the telecoms, I thought you owned the water company.” I feel the same about S.o.J.D.C.; yes, it has been put at arm’s length; yes, it should be allowed to act independently; but it is using States assets and those assets belong to the public so it is not simple to say that we have got to have a level playing field and treat them like everybody else. Senator Le Marquand suggested I think that I should be calling for a rescindment rather than a delay. Well I have certainly thought about it but I thought a delay was a better option, I thought it was less damaging to the scheme; but he deprecates the ability of the States to develop sites. He says we could not get our way out of a paper bag. Well that is interesting because if you look at W.E.B. and now S.o.J.D.C. are they that much better? Well, they have done some very good work but I am not sure. Deputy Noel spent most of his speech on the hospital and that was very interesting because we have not had a debate about the hospital yet, but I merely mentioned it as one of the possible uses of the site. He said there is no risk, no costs; although he did mention W.E.B. have already spent £1 million to date on it but that is probably mainly salaries.
Deputy E.J. Noel:
A point of clarification there, I did not mention any figure to do with the cost to date, that was another Member.
The Connétable of St. Helier:
I take that back, it was said by one of the Members arguing against me but I must have put it in the wrong place in my book. Okay, the Constable of St. Peter wanted to know about my motivation, he seemed frustrated about it and he wanted to tackle the criticism of the Waterfront, and I agree with him. I think there are parts of the Waterfront which are really excellent; there is some fantastic public art; there are some marvellous spaces to take your families down there and I would endorse that. The Deputy of St. Martin in his maiden speech really wants to get on with it, he says the public are fed up with empty property and he referred to St. James and J.C.G. and so on and I agree with him; but the public is not fed up with the Esplanade Quarter, they really like it. I do not think anybody has come to me and said: “Constable, it is such a crying shame you have left that car park like that; those trees are getting bigger and the rabbits have come in.” I have not picked up any impatience from the community when they park their cars in an above ground car park and the sun is shining if it is a nice day and they can hear the birds and it is a really nice space. I do not pick up that frustration and what I am saying here is the private sector is willing to develop the office space that we agree we need so why are we developing a very useful, very practical, very popular car park when we do not need to. The Constable of St. Clement, as the Minister for Economic Development did later – but the Minister was more silver tongued if I can repay the compliment – they both stressed the importance of this scheme to the economy and I thought Deputy Higgins dealt with that very neatly when he said that this business is coming and if it comes into the private sector’s developments, all well and good. There is still the same economic stimulus, there are still the same jobs, there is still the same revenue into the exchequer and there are still the same rates into the Parish. So, again, why not let the private sector provide the facilities that we all agree we require for our financial services industry to prosper? Deputy Le Fondré I have already referred to, his speech was extremely well researched and I think he, like Deputy Higgins, is suspicious of the sales pitch. He can sit and listen to our silver tongued Minister for Economic Development and then he can take it apart, and Deputy Le Fondré I thought did it really well. Deputy Le Hérissier said we are micromanaging and I ask the Assembly, is it micromanaging to want to stop a blot on the landscape? Is it micromanaging to question what happened to the masterplan? Is it micromanaging to want to have a breathing space so that the new Assembly can take a fresh look aided by the masterplans of the Minister for Planning and Environment to take a fresh look at how we are going to use crucial and strategic pieces of land in the town? A few other Members spoke, I am not going to go through them all. I have referred sufficiently to Senator Maclean; I do not believe that a vote for this proposition is damaging confidence in Jersey, I really do not. There is a clear date on the proposition, there is private sector interest in providing these; I think what may be driving this is, I gather, the Planning decision on one of the other schemes is due in a week or so and that worries me because if part of this Assembly is going to make a planning decision in a week or so on one of the competing sites then the decision we make today could have some impact possibly. I do not know but certainly it maybe adds to the call for a further delay. Senator Maclean did say that he sat next to me at one of the meetings of the steering group; I do not remember who I sat next to, and he said it is not true, I did not mention it. Well I am afraid we just have to agree to disagree. I distinctly remember recording my concerns about what was being proposed for La Folie. It is true I did not refer to Esplanade Quarter at the time, in fact when I wrote the proposition – as I think I said yesterday – my proposition began with La Folie and I wrote that first. It was then that I thought: “Hang about, what happened to the masterplan?” That is when I put a second part in it. So I just want to finish by saying what my vision is, it is spelt out in the report, albeit briefly. It says that there are other uses for the site, the second paragraph towards the bottom of the report; and the third argument on the last page says: “The Esplanade is hardly being wasted in its current use.” I think that is the key phrase. Spurred by Deputy Maçon I went back into Hansard and I read what I said the last time we debated this, and I will not repeat it, but I went off into I think what you call a peon of praise for the Esplanade car park and I described it: “What a wonderful place it is for people using St. Helier.” I also noted on the website of the Jersey Evening Post among many comments, almost all of which were saying leave the Esplanade car park alone, there is a rather nice little poem; I am not going to read it because I do not think we are allowed to read poems but I would recommend Members to go to the website. There is a rather nice poem about how nice it is to use the Esplanade car park in its current form. One final thing of course, no one came back from the Council of Ministers to say what happened to the £75 million; it was referred to by a few Members but one of the key points of the masterplan was that it would deliver money into the old town to regenerate St. Helier. Reference has stopped being made to it; I noticed this the last time we debated the Constable of St. John’s propositions and then at the beginning of this year I said I put the Council of Ministers on notice; if they are going to start digging up bits of the Esplanade Quarter to create bits of the masterplan then bits of money must flow back into the old town. Well I still have not seen that but let us hope that the Council of Ministers – if this does proceed in a piecemeal way – that their commitment to put money into regeneration will be made good. I would like to take this in 2 parts if I may and I ask for the appel.
The Bailiff:
Very well then, the appel is called for in relation to the proposition of the Connétable of St. Helier and we will take vote on paragraphs (a) and (b) separately, so the first vote will be on paragraph (a), which relates to the Esplanade Quarter. I invite Members to return to their seats and the Greffier will open the voting.
POUR: 20 CONTRE: 28 ABSTAIN: 1
Senator A. Breckon Senator P.F. Routier Deputy R.G. Bryans (H)
Senator S.C. Ferguson Senator P.F.C. Ozouf
Connétable of St. Helier Senator A.J.H. Maclean
Connétable of St. Lawrence Senator B.I. Le Marquand
Connétable of St. John Senator F. du H. Le Gresley
Deputy J.A. Martin (H) Senator I.J. Gorst
Deputy G.P. Southern (H) Senator L.J. Farnham
Deputy of Grouville Connétable of Trinity
Deputy J.A. Hilton (H) Connétable of Grouville
Deputy J.A.N. Le Fondré (L) Connétable of St. Clement
Deputy S.S.P.A. Power (B) Connétable of St. Peter
Deputy S. Pitman (H) Connétable of St. Mary
Deputy M. Tadier (B) Connétable of St. Ouen
Deputy T.A. Vallois (S) Connétable of St. Brelade
Deputy M.R. Higgins (H) Connétable of St. Martin
Deputy J.M. Maçon (S) Connétable of St. Saviour
Deputy G.C.L. Baudains (C) Deputy R.C. Duhamel (S)
Deputy J.H. Young (B) Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier (S)
Deputy S.J. Pinel (C) Deputy of St. Ouen
Deputy R.J. Rondel (H) Deputy of Trinity
Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)
Deputy E.J. Noel (L)
Deputy A.K.F. Green (H)
Deputy of St. John
Deputy J.P.G. Baker (H)
Deputy of St. Mary
Deputy of St. Martin
Deputy of St. Peter
The Bailiff:
Then we move on to Paragraph (b) which relates to La Folie and the Greffier will open the voting.
POUR: 26 CONTRE: 21 ABSTAIN: 0
Senator A. Breckon Senator P.F. Routier
Senator S.C. Ferguson Senator P.F.C. Ozouf
Senator F. du H. Le Gresley Senator A.J.H. Maclean
Connétable of St. Helier Senator B.I. Le Marquand
Connétable of St. Mary Senator I.J. Gorst
Connétable of St. John Senator L.J. Farnham
Connétable of St. Ouen Connétable of Trinity
Connétable of St. Martin Connétable of Grouville
Connétable of St. Saviour Connétable of St. Clement
Deputy R.C. Duhamel (S) Connétable of St. Peter
Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier (S) Connétable of St. Brelade
Deputy J.A. Martin (H) Deputy of St. Ouen
Deputy G.P. Southern (H) Deputy of Trinity
Deputy of Grouville Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)
Deputy J.A. Hilton (H) Deputy E.J. Noel (L)
Deputy S.S.P.A. Power (B) Deputy A.K.F. Green (H)
Deputy S. Pitman (H) Deputy of St. John
Deputy M. Tadier (B) Deputy J.P.G. Baker (H)
Deputy T.A. Vallois (S) Deputy of St. Mary
Deputy M.R. Higgins (H) Deputy of St. Martin
Deputy J.M. Maçon (S) Deputy of St. Peter
Deputy G.C.L. Baudains (C)
Deputy J.H. Young (B)
Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)
Deputy R.G. Bryans (H)
Deputy R.J. Rondel (H)
[12:15]

 

WHAT THE ISLAND PLAN SAYS ABOUT LES GALOTS

ISLAND PLAN

7.38 To ensure and enable the development of community facilities which would benefit from a harbour-side location, to include the development of a new headquarters facility for the Jersey Sea Cadets, it is considered appropriate to safeguard some land at St. Helier harbour specifically for this purpose.

Policy SCO 3 – Community facilities
Proposals for the development of new or additional community facilities or for the extension and/or alteration of existing community premises will be permitted provided that the proposal is, 1. within the grounds of existing community facilities, or 2. within the Built-up Area; To address deficiencies in the provision of community facilities, the following site is safeguarded for the development of community facilities, to include development of a building suitable to accommodate the headquarters facility for the Jersey Sea Cadets – Les Galots site, Old South Pier, St. Helier

The alternative development of community facilities will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that they are no longer required to meet the needs of the local community.
There will be a presumption against the alternative development of community facilities that do not lie in the Built-up Area.

bshentonIs the States Assembly Obselete?