At the beginning of this year’s debate on the Government Work Plan, which aims to streamline and prioritise the work of the States committees, a series of amendments was placed in attempts to alter the way the housing crisis should be tackled.
During the first of these – a move by Deputy David De Lisle to prevent any further development of agricultural fields – Deputy Victoria Oliver said she was unable to support it.
She argued that it would contradict policies already in place and, as a mere resolution of the States rather than a planning law, would not provide for any penalties for contraventions.
However, she said that her life would be simpler if such a rule were in place because it would reduce the negative feedback she receives.
‘I always get complaints about “the green lung of the area is being taken and what are you going to do about it?” and I can’t really do anything because the policy says that you can build within the main centre or local centres,’ she said.
‘I just feel that, at so many times, the DPA are walking this tightrope.
‘Environmentalists are saying “no, you should be doing this, you should be protecting this”, developers are saying “well, you’ve got a housing crisis at the moment, what are you doing about that? Why aren’t you building more houses?
‘Why aren’t you letting things go through?” and then traffic as well – that’s a big one. And it all mounts up.’
She argued that Guernsey did not have enough brownfield sites to justify a policy of not building on greenfield sites, and proposed a solution as an alternative to an outright ban.
‘The easiest way to deter people from building on green fields is for P&R to put a tax on it.’
She said this would level the ‘playing field’ because brownfield sites were more expensive to develop than green fields due to the expense of site clearance and dealing with potential contamination.
Fellow DPA member Sasha Kazantseva-Miller, like several other speakers, suggested an amendment to the GWP was not the appropriate way to prevent green field development and reassured the assembly that a ‘refresh’ of the Island Development Plan was already in train and would come through in the next couple of years.
She said that the views expressed during the debate would be taken on board by DPA.
Several States members said they appreciated that Deputy De Lisle’s intentions but because of various procedural considerations, they were inclined to vote against the amendment.
Deputies De Lisle, John Gollop, Aidan Matthews and Lester Queripel were the only supporters, with 32 voting against.