08 January 2016
The Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce, has announced that he wants to see a more balanced approach to development with greater recognition given to the demands made on Island infrastructure and local communities when larger building projects take place.
Deputy Luce has referred to planning obligation agreements (POAs) in particular, as a tool to ensure that the potential impacts of new development are offset and are more fairly borne by the developer, rather than the taxpayer, where it is reasonable and appropriate to do so.
Well planned development can deliver great benefit to the Island but it can also place a burden or cost on the community as a result of the additional demand that it might place on local infrastructure and amenities.
The Minister wants to see the POA tool used more comprehensively to ensure that new development is delivered as a complete package, with all of the measures necessary to make a place successful.
This is particularly important in St Helier, where Ministers have set themselves an objective to regenerate the town and to make it a more attractive place to live in, work in and visit.
Deputy Luce said “The regeneration of St Helier is crucial to the success of the town and our Island, and the role of new development is critical in helping to deliver this objective. New development can help to provide the jobs, homes and other facilities that we need in town but more development means more pressure on the existing infrastructure and community facilities.
"I want to work with the development industry to ensure that the places that we create are places where people want to be – whether to live, work or visit – and this means that we need to pay greater attention to what else needs to be provided to make St Helier more successful.
"Creating a better town is in everybody’s interests – and that includes the development industry – so I want to work with them to make that happen.”
Jersey’s urban areas, in particular, bear the brunt of big construction projects and this can put pressure on existing transport facilities and public spaces. To date, POAs have been used to help provide some of the basic infrastructure needed to support and offset the impact of development, including: the upgrading of local surface water and foul sewerage infrastructure; the provision of bus shelters; local traffic calming; and contributions to the cost of running public transport.
The Minister now wants to look more comprehensively at the impact that a given development might have and to work with the development industry, with the use of POAs where necessary, to help deliver better places.
Future initiatives that could be supported by POAs include
- improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists
- environmental improvements in town streets and spaces
- creating more public spaces or improving existing ones
“We already have some good examples of recent development schemes where the planning system has helped to deliver wider public benefits and helped to make the developments themselves more successful and, as a consequence, improved the town.
"The creation of the internal public open space known as the Chart Room at Castle Quay and the new public open space outside the redeveloped Southampton Hotel are just two,” said Deputy Luce. “I want to see more of this sort of provision and I will use the tools available to me to help deliver this.”
The Minister has issued a statement which sets out his intention to use POAs more comprehensively. This will be supported by new guidelines for developers on their use, which will follow shortly.
The Minister for the Environment is also working with the Minister for Housing to explore how the planning system might help capture some of the increase in land value when planning permission for development is secured. Any funds generated from such a development levy could be used to help fund the provision of affordable housing and town regeneration.
This work is being undertaken as a result of States decisions charging the Environment Minister to explore how best to deliver affordable homes.
Work on the potential introduction of a community infrastructure levy is to be carried out this year and will be the subject of wide consultation and engagement to ensure that any such scheme is viable and appropriate to Jersey.
Planning Obligation Agreements
A planning obligation agreement is a legally-binding agreement between parties with an interest in a development to ensure that the community impacts of that development are offset or mitigated.
Planning Obligation Agreements are made under the Planning and Building (Jersey) Law and supported by the Revised 2011 Island Plan Policy GD4 and supplementary planning guidance ‘The Use of Planning Obligations’ (August 2008).
The tests applied before entering into a POA are that they ought to be:
necessary (to make a development acceptable in planning terms)
relevant to planning
directly related to the proposed development
fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind
reasonable in all other respects
Download a statement by the Minister for Environment on the use of Planning Obligation Agreements (254kb)