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IDP has allowed more farmland to become garden

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A GROWING number of agricultural fields are becoming gardens under the Island Development Plan, a Guernsey Press investigation can reveal.

The Environment Department was responsible for bringing the Island Development Plan to the States and did its best to engage with the public, but Vale constable Richard Leale believes it was such a weighty document it was ignored by many. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 22311127)

The new planning policy came into effect at the end of 2016, with a greater focus on flexibility. But it has also led to a more homeowners being able to change the use of agricultural land to domestic use.

The Guernsey Press has examined applications for change of use between February and July this year, as well as the same period for 2016, when applications would have been considered under previous planning legislation.

For 2018 there were 41 applications. Of these 30 have been approved, 10 are still pending and one was rejected.

This was a big increase from 2016 when there were just 16 applications for the same period. Nine of those were approved and two are still pending. But three were rejected and two withdrawn.

The one 2018 application that was rejected during this period was not turned down to protect the agricultural land, with the extension of the curtilage considered acceptable, according to the planning report.

Planning Services said they would be including figures about the change of use of land in the 2017 annual monitoring report, which is set to be released shortly. The findings from the report would determine whether there should be any changes to the Island Development Plan.

The parishes most affected by the applications in the Guernsey Press study are in the north of the island, with eight in the Vale and seven in St Sampson’s in 2018. This compares with a total of five applications across the two parishes for the same period in 2016.

Vale senior constable Richard Leale said he was concerned that the growing number of applications was setting a dangerous precedent, as it might make it easier for new homes to be built on curtilage than agricultural land. He said many islanders had not realised the affect the changes of the Island Development Plan would have.

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‘I think the big problem was that the Island Development Plan was such a weighty document – it was not user friendly,’ he said.

‘The general public ignored it, but now it’s coming back to bite them.’

Seven of the 2018 applications have affected St Peter’s. That compares with two for the same period in 2016.

St Peter’s parish officials have objected to some of the applications.

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Dean of the douzaine Martin Ozanne said they were concerned.

‘There has been a big rise,’ he said.

‘There are of course valid reasons in some cases. If the fields quite simply cannot be used – a bit of wasteland that cannot be improved. But in some cases they are clearly agricultural fields.

‘I think we need to try and be careful not to lose too much agricultural land. Just because it looks like it might not be cultivated, it does not mean it should be incorporated into your garden. In the future some future generations may wish to use it as agricultural land again.’

For the six months of 2018 examined, there were applications for every parish, but there was just one each for St Peter Port, Forest and St Andrew’s.

For the six months in 2016, only seven parishes were subject to applications, with only Castel, St Andrew’s and the Vale having more than two.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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