Housing: stop this dithering
DECISIONS need to be made swiftly on a new housing strategy, industry figures have said, as they bemoaned its lack of progress.
Environment & Infrastructure wants the States to buy into a new ‘holistic’ strategy that would cut the annual new build target from 300 to 127.
The committee wants to review a range of housing measures before bringing recommendations to the States in the next two years.
The local market report that triggered E&I’s policy letter was submitted in September 2015 and that report was expedited by States resolution the following March.
Developer Charles McHugh said the rate of progress was unacceptable.
‘Why has it taken more than two years, since March 2016, to get KPMG commissioned and turn it into a policy letter?’ he said.
‘Then the policy letter says we need two more years to decide what to do. By the time E&I return to the States, this will have spanned three different terms of States deputies.’
Mr McHugh spoke to the Guernsey Press in September 2015, at which time he said that the existing housing targets were ‘outdated’ and had the potential to damage the market.
‘When will they amend the IDP to correct their error? This is why the north of the island is revolting,’ he said.
Heidi Soulsby, whose amendment led to the review, said it was important to debate E&I’s policy letter before the summer recess.
‘The time it has taken to come to the States is disappointing, although Environment & Infrastructure is a small department and I have some sympathy with it.
‘They are going to need more resources to push it forward. The key thing now is to get it moving.
‘The reduced housing target comes as no surprise but hopefully that can feed through to the IDP.’
Other committees will need to work with E&I on matters such as identifying key worker needs, which Deputy Souslby said her committee, Health & Social Care, would be happy to do.
‘With an ageing demographic we are going to need more nursing and care staff who are going to need more places to live,’ she said. ‘We are starting to address this and I welcome the chance to work with E&I.’
Pierre Blampied, managing director of mortgage brokers SPF Private Clients, said the whole process up should be questioned.
‘The big issue is the speed of government. The KPMG report was written about two years ago and the market has changed considerably since then.
‘If we are going to do something, let’s do it. We need action, we need to make decisions and get on with it. Looking at the ministerial government in Jersey, it would be a speedier process.’