26 January 2016
The Minister for the Environment has published more details about plans for a possible levy on land development to help fund community infrastructure and encourage affordable housing. This would help with the regeneration of St Helier, making it a more attractive place to live, work, and visit.
The Minister announced at the start of the year that he wanted to explore the possibility of introducing in Jersey a charge known in the UK as a community infrastructure levy. It’s in line with States Assembly decisions charging the Environment Minister to deliver an affordable housing policy.
In the UK, the charge is paid per square metre for new developments. The money can go towards infrastructure improvements such as safer road schemes, community facilities, park improvements, green spaces and leisure facilities.
In Jersey, affordable housing and developments for community or charitable purposes, or for projects improving St Helier, could attract a lower or zero charge.
Policy H3, which required developers to build some affordable housing in larger developments, or make a contribution towards low cost homes, was withdrawn some time ago following feedback from the construction industry. Any new proposals will learn from that, ensuring that any levy is low and broad, raising money from commercial developments as well.
Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce, who is working with the Housing Minister, Deputy Anne Pryke on the proposals, said he would work very closely with the construction industry to ensure that any charge is viable, would not restrict appropriate development, and also provide more certainty and clarity.
He said “New development will nearly always have some impact on infrastructure and the surroundings. One new home may not have much of an impact on a street, but if another one’s built, then another, or if large office block is built, it’s going to put some pressure on the area.
“Currently, the public absorbs that pressure and pays for road or pedestrian improvements, or new public spaces, but it’s got to be right that the developer, who gains a profit from the increase in land value when they get planning permission, makes a contribution.”
The Housing Minister, who works very closely with the Minister for the Environment on housing matters, said, “I fully support the approach the Minister for the Environment is taking, investigating how some of the financial benefits arising from the awarding of planning permissions could be used to fund important community projects, including helping us deliver more affordable housing, in particular, for first time buyers.”
Ministers believe the benefits of a charge could include:
- More certainty to developers about what they will have to pay for infrastructure, which will help them to decide on an appropriate price to pay for development land
- More transparency - the public and developers will be able to see how funds have been spent
- More fairness – any charge will apply to all developments. To date, few sites and especially smaller developments, have contributed towards new infrastructure in the area
The Ministers plan to hold a wide scale consultation with the industry, other stakeholders and the public later this year.