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Minister approves Esplanade development

04 April 2014

The Minister for Planning and Environment, Deputy Rob Duhamel, today approved a new seven-storey office development on the Esplanade, which retains the front section of two historic warehouses.

The current scheme has been amended from the previous submission which originally sought to demolish 28 Esplanade and construct a new eight-storey office block.
The proposal now involves the conservation of the front section of the existing 1890s buildings (Nos. 27 and 28, The Esplanade) and the renovation of the facades to their original configuration. It also includes the introduction of three bays of the timber roof structure to be salvaged from the rear of No. 27 to recreate the ‘paired’ original structures.
Deputy Duhamel indicated that the scheme was a successful balance of the competing needs within the town for new office development whilst retaining historic fabric. “This will be an environmentally sustainable building which takes St. Helier forward whilst retaining the historic pattern of development on this former warehouse site,” he said.
A planning application for a new two-storey, four-bedroom home in the Green Zone in Grouville was also approved.
Plans had previously been refused on several occasions but the Minister considered that the current scheme was by far the most evolved in terms of best practice, offering a good design with commendable ‘green credentials’.
Having considered the case both for and against the new dwelling, the Minister accepted the applicant’s arguments that: 
  • the application for a new dwelling on the site had been supported by the planning applications panel (5:2) who considered the site to be suitable for development contrary to the Island Plan.
  • very special circumstances applied in this case as the site had previously be zoned for development in the 2002 Island Plan and was surrounded on all sides by existing development;
  • the proposals will include the recovery of the footpath which runs along the northern side of the site linking Les Fonds de Longueville with the water fountain on Les Cabots.
  • the proposals have strong ‘green credentials’ and are very much a sustainable design approach.
In agreeing the plans, Deputy Duhamel indicated that the approval should not be seen as a precedent for other infill development. “This is a very unusual case which I have considered carefully. There are very particular circumstances which apply on this site, which do not apply elsewhere. This is not ‘open season’ for infill sites in the Green Zone,” he said.
An application for outline planning permission to construct a dwelling on a field and create a netball court and soft play area for Grouville School has been deferred.
After a lively public meeting, where supporters and opponents of the scheme exchanged strongly held views, Deputy Duhamel indicated that he was heading towards approving the scheme, provided certain changes could be made. In particular, he indicated that the impact of the development upon a neighbour should be reduced, while exploring opportunities to increase the amount of land given over to the school.
The matter will be deferred for alternatives to be discussed and any future plans will be made available for further public comment, prior to a decision being made.
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