There's no place like home for residents of new Clos Barbier

AFTER 19 years on the Housing Department’s transfer list, couple Pam and Colin Knight moved into their new flat this week.

The St Martin’s complex has 24 two-bedroom apartments, built by the Guernsey Housing Association in partnership with the Housing Department (1294590)
The St Martin’s complex has 24 two-bedroom apartments, built by the Guernsey Housing Association in partnership with the Housing Department (1294590)

AFTER 19 years on the Housing Department’s transfer list, couple Pam and Colin Knight moved into their new flat this week.

They are just two of several islanders settling in at the new Clos Barbier – a complex of 24 two-bedroom apartments in St Martin’s, built by the Guernsey Housing Association in partnership with the Housing Department.

Politicians and the media were given a tour of the properties yesterday, which are next to the Rue Jehannet Estate and have been designed for older islanders.

Housing Minister Dave Jones said he was pleased with the completed flats and said this was a good example of the successful relationship between the GHA and the department.

Comments for: "There's no place like home for residents of new Clos Barbier "

Spartacus

19 years on the waiting list!

Another patch of green rural Guernsey snuffed out forever.

Why did it have to be next to the existing States housing estate? To add to the existing segregation?

Housing Minister Dave Jones said he was pleased.

Dave Jones

Spartacus

Just a correction on a couple of points.

Firstly it wasn’t a green field site, It was a derelict vinery.

Secondly the development was permitted under a specific policy for homes in the rural area.

Also it was built as a round off of an existing estate to reduce the impact on the rural area.

It also had existing services of drains water and electricity which saves disruption and costs.

We want wherever possible to provide homes that allow people to stay in the parish where they were born and brought up, or where they have resided for many years.

Finally, I am always pleased when I see the completion of additional social housing

Spartacus

Dave Jones

Thanks for the corrections.

19 years is a hell of a wait for someone with a medical condition.

I didn't realise people were now permitted to build on vineries as I consider them part of our green rural heritage which should revert to agricultural/green use.

I personally don't think extending estates, into rural areas or otherwise, is justifiable whether it has been permitted by policy or not. I see it as adding to segregation.

Rachel

Spartacus, you may be interested to know that private land owners are not able to build on vineries and agricultural land- they must apply for change of use if they wish to build anything but these applications are mostly rejected. However, it is known that many times where a private owners change of land use application has been rejected, Housing has been able to buy up this land cheaply (cheap because it is agricultural) and build on it themselves using Article 30 of the 1966 Planning Law – “States not bound be law” and build what they want without planning consent.

Dave Jones

Rachel

That is no longer true,

States departments under the new planning law 2010 are subject to the same conditions as everybody else.

Also social housing projects are for the benefit of the community as a whole, unlike private developments which are built for profit.

Spartacus

Rachel

Thanks for the info.

Dave Jones

Just another correction.

I have just checked with Housing staff and the couple mentioned have NOT been on the waiting list for 19 years. They have been on the transfer list for some considerable time but we have been unable to move them to somewhere in their own parish until smaller accommodation became available.

The Press reporter has agreed she misunderstood that point.

Thisisguernsey

The story above has been corrected to reflect this point regarding 'waiting' and 'transfer' lists.

Dave Jones

I am grateful to your Editorial team.

Spartacus

Dave Jones

Thanks for the correction.

Pam who was interviewed said her husband had a heart attack 19 years ago and she put her name down for a transfer as a couple.

She said they heard nothing and then this came out of the blue.

19 years is a long time waiting on the transfer list, whatever the reason. I wish them well in their new home.

Karen

19 years doesn't surprise me. My pensioner in-laws have been waiting for a transfer from a 3 bed family home to more suitable accommodation for at least the last 10!

Dave Jones

Karen that is quite possible.

It is only in the last few years that we have been building lots of smaller units of accommodation to help address the under occupancy issues and of course some people will have a preference of where they want to go, some for example will not want to move out of their parish, which can increase considerably the waiting time.

Also people on the transfer list are at least adequately housed and we do have to concentrate getting those on the waiting list into social housing first.

I fully accept that the situation has not been ideal for many years and I have to say very little was done for decades to address the building of new homes or helping those who were/are under occupying.

Rodley Park was the last major development of that sort.

Things will continue to improve as we bring more and more properties on stream, the whole process did stagnate for a while as we had to re-house hundreds of tenants whose homes were being demolished so the transfer and waiting lists did suffer as a result and for that I hold my hands up.

Having said that my board and our staff are not magicians and we have to try and achieve a balance but we have made huge improvements and as I say, as more new developments are finished it will help ease the situation further.

CameraShy

Meanwhile, a young family has been crammed in a one-bedroom flat waiting for an upgrade to a more suitable-sized family home. I imagine…

Spartacus

But if they are not born/brought up in St Martins (for example) or resided there for many years and the family home is in St Martins everyone has to stay put.

CameraShy

Oh, that's right! Silly me!

Gsy mum of 3

re quote "everyone has to stay put"

That's not read the case at all though is it? As regularly reported the waiting list for 1,2,3 and 4 bedroomed houses is long. If someone turns a house down, it is subsequently offered to someone else and occupied.

Dave Jones

You can imagine almost anything, it doesn't make it true.

Spartacus

... it just makes you wonder.

CameraShy

That it does, Sparty. That it does.

You're right though, Dave - perhaps I was a little offhand with my comment, and I apologise.

Having said that, I read these comment boards daily and, anecdotally at least, it seems like people out there are getting desperate. I have the utmost respect for what you, personally, are doing to try and sort out the situation, but it does seem rather, ummmm, daft (for want of a better word) to be putting so much emphasis on housing people in the parishes where they were brought up or have lived for a long time.

Getting them appropriate housing should be the first thing on the checklist. Anything else should be of minimal concern.

This is Guernsey - it's not as if people are ever going to be living more than, what, 8 miles?, away from their 'home' parish.

Unjust

Meanwhile, meanwhile a girl who sold her flat for profit hid the money away got housed within weeks in a nice two bedroomed house. Not sure of the fairness of it all.

Dave Jones

If you have real evidence of what you have posted then you need to make it known to the tenancy section of Housing.

We like all departments have to have an element of trust when dealing with the public and we do carry out certain checks, however deliberat deception is often hard to find.

Dave Jones

Camrashy

That is true and we can only give that choice if it is available. I don’t think it is daft for people to want to stay in their traditional areas and of course there are lots of people who have accepted transfers because they are not particularly fussy where they live but if you do have a strong preference then you will have to wait much longer.

Also I need to make it clear that if we needed a family home that was being under occupied, and then we will insist that people move to accommodation better suited to their needs, the problem has been is that we have not had that accommodation available to us until recent times in which to move people to.

We try and keep a good working relationship with our tenants and if it is possible to meet their preferences then we will try and do so.

I don't mind being beaten up when we get it badly wrong but I think by and large our policies are working well and of course we need more homes, which as I keep saying we are working on.

CameraShy

Dave, thanks for the clarification.

I don't think it's daft for people to WANT to stay in their 'traditional areas' either - that's not what I was saying. Of course people will want to stay near to the people and places they are used to. But I do think it's slightly bizarre that people who are in such dire straits that they need to request social housing would pretty much demand where that housing should be - and that the department would kowtow to them. (Now I know that's not the case, but that's the basis of understanding my first post came from.)

I don't know individual circumstances of course, and can only imagine how I would feel were I in the same position, and I honestly think I would just be happy to be placed somewhere - anywhere - that I could settle. Never look a gift horse, and all that...

Nevertheless, it really is reassuring to hear that, if people do have strong wishes to stay in a certain area and are happy to wait until a suitable property becomes free, that your department will try hard to accommodate (pun, sorry) them.

Please don't think I am knocking your department or its policies, because I think you are all doing a sterling job. Trust me - with island-wide voting, you'd be getting a tick from me!

Rachel

I agree CameraShy. If you reject a suitable property only because it is not in your preferred parish then you can't really be considered desperate can you?

Is there a maximum number of properties that someone can reject before being taken off the list? If not then it is no wonder that many remain on the transfer list for decades.

What is the criteria used to define someone as 'local' to a parish? Is it 15 years? Do you have to have been born there? If you weren't born there but moved there when you were one or five or ten then are you still a local to that area? Do you have to have relatives who live there and if they move do you loose your 'local' status to that parish?

Dave Jones

Camreashy

I thank you for your comments.

I would only add that people apply for social housing not because they are necassarily in "dire straits" but in the main because hey don't earn enough to be able to afford other housing options.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of those in social housing are just ordinary hard working people who have jobs that don't pay very much.

Spartacus

Dave Jones

That's a fair comment there is a much wider problem of unaffordable private sector housing.

I have aired my feelings and I feel I have been listened to and responded to. Thank you.

CameraShy

Rachel, all good questions, and ones I have been wondering about myself!

Dave, sorry to draw this out...

re. my use of the term 'dire straits' - I wasn't necessarily referring to those people not working and requiring housing. I think that if I was working hard, all the hours God sends, and STILL couldn't afford somewhere to live, I would almost certainly consider myself in dire straits.

There is definitely a wider issue here. And I do not envy you and your fellow Assembly members, who are tasked with trying to sort it out, because I honestly have no idea where I would even begin.

But Housing is doing a wonderful job of plugging the leaks until the ship can have a good working over, so again, thank you.

Gsy mum of 3

Reply to Rachel

I myself last year have moved from private rental (2 bedroom) with 3 children. My eldest daughter has been at the same school since reception (just over 5 yrs at time of moving) and we therefore wrote on our form that we wished to stay in the same parish. We have therefore been able to remain in St Martin so that she was not disrupted for her final two years at school. We didn't 'turn down' any properties. I don't believe our wish to remain in the same parish delayed our application process at all, after our application became 'active' (after 6 months for those of you that aren't aware) we were called a month after that to be allocated a house.

I hope this helps answer your question re the kind of reasons that are considered to be accepted as 'local' to a parish. No there doesn't appear to be a number of years needed, I guess it's more that they look at whether the request is reasonable, rather than someone who has been living on the Bridge and says they want to move to St Andrews because they want to live there.

As for the number of properties you can turn down, Housing will allow you to turn one down IF they see your reasons as 'acceptable'. Turn down a second and your application is put back to the start, ie. you have to wait another six months for your application to become active. So, yes the states do have processes in place to prevent this from happening.

Rachel

Guernsey mum of 3

Thanks for the info. It is great that housing can give people this option if it is available and where reasons are valid- such as in your case where you did not want to disrupt your childs education.

Firestorm

I assume the Environment Dept has planned ahead and made provision for widening of the already congested lanes in this area to cater for the extra traffic load due to these large projects on greenland.

Dave Jones

Firestorm

There is a scheme to alter some of the on street parking on the approaches to this new development by creating lay-bys and some extra parking for the existing estate, this was one of the conditions laid down by the planners and agreed before the new development was planned, so the traffic issues has been covered. Also not all the new tenants will necessarily have a car.

Firestorm

Maybe we should put a few lay-bys round all our Islands roads that will sort out the build up of traffic. Unfortunately small lay-bys only tend to work with a couple of cars but not with half a dozen. Yes granted not all tenants will have cars but many of the visitors and deliverys to the area will.

Also I still find it rather interesting that permission was given to build on that area in the first place.

Dave Jones

Firestorm

Permission was given under a specific policy (H R 2 that allows limited development adjacent to existing social housing estates in he rural area.

islander

I remember the vinery well as steaming it[soil sterilisation] back in the late 50s.Around the time the existing estate was being built.

What a beautiful transformation this new clos brings to the area.

I hope the Housing can use their influence on this specific policy with the help of the Environment and not class other derelict vineries as green areas and allow housing and businesses to construct on.

Dave Jones

Islander

We are exploring with Enviroment at the moment what might be possible in the rural area in the future, I am hopeful we will find other sites that could be used to provide homes for rent in other parts of the Island.

Kevin

Thank you for your support, it is very much appreciated.

guern abroad

If you are going to build make it only social housing.

Do not let greed and private sector building onto green field/vinery sites as that would be a downhill journey to loss of land.

Same_difference

Righteous or not, either way it's loss of land, Guern.

With food prices on the rise and more to come as weather changes and economic decline continues, losing potential growing land in an island at the end of a very, very long food chain (that can easily swallow it up before it reaches us) should be very carefully considered before creating solutions for housing problems based on current population projections.

i've said it before, with the economic downturn and increasing legislation against us from the UK (LVCR down the Swanny, finance clearly in their sights), this island will change, and the population with it, and it would be a travesty to see money thrown at housing projects when there's a very good possibility that the population will decrease, and we don't actually need it..

People need food, not just houses.

kevin

Give Dave Jones and housing a break - from what I can see they are doing a decent job with what is available to them, it is not their fault that the island is overpopulated and housing and land is so overpriced.

Island Wide Voting

Kevin

Agreed,although bending over backwards to ensure people can remain in their 'own parish' on this fly speck of an island does seem to be a step too far

Dave Jones

IWV

We are not bending over backwards as you put,it, we do what we can if we can.

valeite

Deputy Jones,

Just recently I have heard of at least 3 three bedroomed states houses being occupied by a single person or a couple, just a simple question really, is the only reason these tenants are not moving out because there are not enough smaller places for them to move to, or is there another reason, as I know for sure one of the single occupied houses the tenant would not mind moving at all.

Dave Jones

Valerie

It is that we simply don't have enough smaller units of accommodation at present to move everybody who is under occupying.

You have to remember that at the same time we are still finding accommodation for older people who need housing as they have to leave private rental for a host of reasons.

Some because they can no longer manage the stairs or because financially they can no longer manage private rents when theey retire from work, some will have health problems where they will need accommodation with a warden on site. So it isn't just as straight forward as many might think.

We, through the GHA are building as much new housing as we can, some will be smaller accommodation such as the new development of Clos Barbier. Some will be family accommodation and some for partial ownership, so we try and address all the demands on housing as best we can.

I repeat ,there is still much to do and I will keep my foot firmly on the peddle in order to keep the Corperate Housing programme moving.

Dave Jones

Sorry Valeite

My I pad altered your tag to Valerie I hadn't noticed.

Barrow Boy

In order to keep his foot on the peddle, should Dave have a Hawker's Licence?

islannder

Is it possible to view [H R 2] Policy.In the policy does it allow extra parking spaces on states housings estates by removing roadside hedges whereby spaces have already been allocated in carparks?

Dave Jones

Islander

The policy is specificity aimed at limited rural development under certain circumstances laid out in the policy. You can view the policy on the Enviroment web site.

A.J.

Ignore the nitpickers and the envious, Dave.to you and your team,well done! Keep up the good work.

Dave Jones

Thank you AJ

I will pass your comments on.

scarlett

A.J, agreed, big snaps to Dave and his team, but define 'envious' and point out an example on here, I fail to see it.

guern abroad

I think the smaller housing scheme is great but I would have made at least 12 of these one bedroom and increased the units on this plot hopefully by at least 6.

I am not a huge supporter of providing two bedrooms where the occupying person or couple have need for only one bedroom.

Let's get some proper one bedroom units built and maximise housing potential.

A unit with a good sized living space and clever storage does not need two bedrooms. You can put up relatives in the living room and the second room should not be provided just because and for storage.

A second room is a nice to have, it is not essential for most people who are single or a couple and are retired.

Dave Jones

Guern abroard

Have you thought for instance that many of these residents have grandchildren who might like to stay, or they might even want their own bedrooms.

Also it is not about cramming more people onto the site, we are dealing with people here not battery hens.

Guern abroad

Whilst I did not mean to cram the homes in, I do feel that providing some one bedroom apartments would have generated more homes and helped more people on the list waiting.

Not everyone needs to have a second bedroom even for the reasons given, and I expect if you looked at how those rooms are being used in a years time you would find most are storage rooms and/or occasional use. I would rather home another 3 or 4 homes then provide on that basis. Plus the later comment of providing a commual room is a good idea too.

If you look at other retirement models that are a mix of one and two bedroom based on need and also money available.

Spartacus

Dave Jones

Having a spare bedroom is a luxury by anyone's standards.

More please

My dad has friends that have moved to the new flats and he has had a good look around. He would like one himself as he says they are nice and warm and supposedly the electric bills are going to be very low because of the solar panels.

A lot of the older people that have moved in that were born and grew up in St Martin's so for some they have spent over 60-70 years in the Parish. I think its good that they have built these flats so that they can stay in an area they are familar with and have all their friends close to keep an eye on them.

I believe they are two bed for a number of reasons, one is so if they need a carer to stay with them then they have the room, a couple may sleep in seperate rooms if one needs certain heatlh equipment, or perhaps its to help them have family stay, especially grandchildren which keeps the family unit going.

There is more room to build more flats if needed. The only downside I see is that they did not build in a communal lounge where everyone could meet together, I know there is the community centre down the road but it would have been nice addition, perhaps GHA will consider that for their next project.

Sapphire

I would like to know if the permission given is for building decent proper size houses or those akin to Rabbit Hutches because it seems to be a trend to cram as many properties on the smallest amount of land to get the most money out of people.

Apparently if you can wedge a double bed and a chest of draws into a room it's legaly classed as a double bedroom!

There will come a time when you can have a pee while cooking your Tea and watching TV!!!

Dave Jones

Sapphire

It is a balance of having smaller properties for couples who are under occupying family homes to move into and having reasonable living spaces, I think Clos Barbier has achieved that balance but your point is well made

scarlett

Dave, out of interest, can you please confirm, is The Guernsey Housing Association a local company or UK affiliated?

Rumor has is it's a UK organisation, and I was somewhat bemused by this...

Dave Jones

Scarlett

The Guernsey Housing Association is 100% a local company; it has no UK affiliation whatsoever.

It has an all local board of directors and all its employees are full time Guernsey residents.

The two original directors of the GHA were contracted from the Winchester Housing association in the very early days to help set it up as we were breaking new ground for Guernsey but they have long since left the island and it now stands alone as The Guernsey Housing Association.

I hope that answers your question.

Scarlett

It does, thank you, Dave.

scarlett

...you must be talking about the private sector, Sapphire, I've lost count of the amount of tiny cupboard style box room classed as 'bedrooms'...!!

Gsy mum of 3

Lol. Yes I can second that, a number of years ago I went to see a '2 bedroomed flat' when we got there to view, bottom floor was minute kitchen, with a small living area, middle floor was supposedly another bedroom and a toilet, top floor bedroom and bathroom. It was quite clearly a one bedroom, as otherwise visitors would have to go through a bedroom to go to the toilet!

A.J.

Some call this 'ensuite'

Sapphire

Ensuite = Not enough room for a proper bathroom lol! When i was looking at flats to buy, most in my price range were poxy tiny things, they all looked very nice and spacious on first view ..... but that was without furniture etc. Next to no storage and once you get beds, sofas chairs in, there's not really much room left for anything else. Greedy property people wanting to put up 36 teeny weeny apartments that Barbie couldn't even swing Ken around in, instead of building 20/25 decent size properties for a comfortable living at a reasonable price. Look at some of those dolls houses/flats in the Canichers ....... Awful claustraphobic box rooms!

grateful

To Dave Jones

Thank you for everything you do in terms of Guernsey's social housing needs. Looking back at what you have achieved so far, I think you have every right to feel very proud. I have an elderly family member who lives happily within one of the developments you have strived to produce, and since moving there her life has changed completely. Thanks again

Dave Jones

grateful

I have done no more than the job I was given and although it is great to receive the kind of plaudits such as yours, I have not archived the progress we have made alone. I have had some very hard working board members over he years and some great staff who have worked heir socks off in trying to supply more and more social housing for those who need access to it.

When you think of the task they faced of rehousing over 250 tenants while we knocked down their homes and rebuilt them through the GHA, it is a massive achievement and I had everything crossed when discussions took place around the housing table of how it was to be accomplished.

I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Steve Wiliams and his team at the Guernsey Housing Association who have brought all the projects in on or ahead of time and all of them without exception on budget.

I am as you say very proud of the fact that we have managed to help so many people by giving them decent homes and a brighter future and as I have said many times we are at he start of this Juergen not the end and as long as I have anything to do with it I will continue to drive the Corperate Housing programme forward.

I have been a working man all my life and I know what it is like to bring up a family on not very much money and to live in accommodation that we could barely afford. So having been there myself, it is much easier to appreciate what needs to be done to improve the lives of those who experience the same problems.

Dave Jones

I apologise for the typos but it's late and I am very tired

kat

These new places are delightful.a friend of ours has been allocated one.he had a beautiful house states house that was too big.

He tells us this flat is top notch.every need is well thought out ,good for the housing for listening on what is needed .

I just hope the new ones in Grand Bouet will be up to this standard.or is this only for St martins?

Well done for listening .just hope these places will stand the test of time