‘No GP11 would cost taxpayer millions'

REMOVING the affordable housing policy GP11 would cost Guernsey millions of pounds, Employment & Social Security president Peter Roffey has warned.

Deputy Peter Roffey. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 30503497)
Deputy Peter Roffey. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 30503497)

The comments come after a group of leading developers put out a joint letter, saying that the planning policy – which makes part of any development of 20 homes or more affordable housing – was stifling development.

Deputy Roffey said he still denied that the policy stifled development and would be fighting to keep it.

‘The removal of GP11 would cost the taxpayer of Guernsey many millions of pounds,’ he said.

‘It has already been identified that the island needs hundreds more social/affordable homes over the next few years. If the plots for those homes are not to come from GP11 then the required land will have to be bought. This could either be by the States purchasing the land themselves or by grant funding the GHA to do so. Either way, in the current buoyant realty market, it would cost the Guernsey taxpayer a very great deal of money.

‘Worse than that, in such a competitive market there is real possibility that such sites would not be secured, leading to an even greater affordable housing crisis than we see today.

‘This is not an academic argument. We have already seen GP11 saving the taxpayer millions. When the States bought Kenilworth Vinery [for £6.5m. last year] the valuation the purchase was based on factored in GP11. Without it the commercial valuation would have been considerably higher.’

So far GP11 has not led to any affordable housing being built since it was introduced in 2016. The Guernsey Housing Association are instrumental in making GP11 work, with developers of large sites having to either give some land to the States or GHA to develop or to build houses.

GHA chief executive Steve Williams said that GP11 would require that land to be provided at nil cost for affordable housing, which saves the taxpayer the expense.

‘With limited public funds this planning policy provides a welcome financial benefit to providing affordable housing,’ he said.

‘There are a multitude of reasons why no affordable housing has yet been produced through this planning policy, mainly due to the sheer size and complexity of some of the sites, which take several years to be ready to start construction. Some of the time delays will relate to road access and traffic management issues, or several land ownerships, and a long thorough planning process. Some developers will only construct one site at a time, hence land is left undeveloped for several years.

‘If GP11 is allowed to stay then it is likely to produce affordable housing soon, with some large sites currently in the planning process. If there is a chance of the policy being removed, then developers and landowners will wait, and further delay new homes being built.’

Development & Planning Authority member John Dyke has been reviewing Island Development Plan policies, including GP11, ahead of a review of the plan.

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