29 November 2013
The way Jersey protects its historic environment has been upheld following a Jersey Appeal Court ruling earlier this week.
The Planning Minister has won an appeal which upholds the legitimacy and robustness of Jersey’s listing process.
The Appeal Court ruling confirms that a decision about whether to list important Jersey buildings should be made on the heritage value of the building alone, and not on the state of the building, the cost of repairing it or the planning implications of listing.
Earlier this year, in the first case of its kind, the owner of Seymour Villa, Plat Douet Road, challenged the Planning Minister’s decision to list the building. The owner applied unsuccessfully in the past to build six units of accommodation on the site.
The building is considered to be a good example of a mid-late nineteenth century townhouse, with ornamental external character and an original internal staircase thought to be worth protecting.
But the Royal Court agreed with the owner; quashed the decision to list Seymour Villa and sent the matter back to the Planning Minister to reconsider.
That decision raised concerns about the threat to Jersey’s historic environment because it threw into doubt the standing of the listing system in Jersey and work to review all the Island’s heritage assets. Given the importance of this issue in relation to protecting Jersey’s heritage the Planning Minister believed he had a good case for challenging the decision and successfully appealed.
Planning Minister, Deputy Rob Duhamel said “Listing a building, structure or a place is how we define and protect our historic environment. The traditional granite farm houses, Victorian terraces and crescents, Napoleonic-period forts and towers, and stern WWII structures, form the backdrop to our daily lives in Jersey and other features, like milestones, lavoirs and other historic road furniture all contribute to the island’s distinctive character. They are all part of what makes Jersey special and it is the planning system that protects them.
“Listing helps you identify and understand a building's importance – its special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system so that some thought will be taken about its future.”
He added “Furthermore, listing does not freeze a building in time, it just means that owners must apply for permission to make any changes to that building which might affect its special interest. Listed buildings can be altered, extended and, in very exceptional circumstances, even demolished but it’s important, in the first instance, that we understand and mark its importance, and that’s why I’m delighted that the Court of Appeal has decided to uphold our appeal and to provide a definitive legal view on the listing process.”
The Court did not rule whether Seymour Villa itself deserved listing. It left it up to the owner to decide whether to ask for that judgement by the Royal Court within the next 28 days.