Guernsey Press

Bid to axe GP11 planning policy heading for debate

The controversial planning policy which opponents say is stopping house-building is set to be debated in the States soon.

Deputy John Dyke says he is drafting the requete. (32909279)

Deputy John Dyke is behind a requete on Island Development Plan policy GP11, which requires developments of 20 units or more to include a percentage of social or affordable housing.

The deputies supporting the requete believe that GP11 is wrecking the housebuilding market when the island needs an estimated 1,500 additional homes by 2027, including more than 800 in the private sector, which would require the current rate of construction roughly to double.

‘We just have to do this because GP11 is ruining development of mid-range homes. They are just not happening,’ said Deputy Dyke. ‘I’m drafting the requete. I’m not quite sure who will lead it. It might end up being me. Deputies are certainly queuing up to sign it.’

After being elected as Policy & Resources president last month, Deputy Lyndon Trott said he was determined to put housebuilding at the centre of his committee’s agenda.

He would like to remove hurdles which have slowed the pace of new developments in recent years. And P&R’s first major initiative – an amendment worth £88m. to fund construction of the Guernsey Institute at Les Ozouets – includes a proposal to sell or jointly develop land at the Coutanchez for housing.

‘The requete to remove GP11 is likely to be debated before Easter,’ said Deputy Trott. ‘If that is successful, there would no longer be a significant headwind in the eyes of developers.

‘That is why we have built the necessary flexibility into the amendment to ensure that, if the Guernsey Housing Association has not got the capacity to drive forward this initiative, we leave the door open to private developers.’

Deputy Dyke, who is a member of the Development & Planning Authority, has spent more than two years researching ways for the States to suspend or scrap policy GP11.

He has repeatedly been advised that the island’s planning laws would require any such move to be preceded by an expensive and potentially lengthy planning inquiry.

But he said yesterday that he believed he and like-minded colleagues were close to a breakthrough.

‘We seem to have found a way to overcome the great number of reasons put forward which for so long allegedly meant we couldn’t do this,’ said Deputy Dyke.

‘The way through is in two parts. First, we will need to amend the 2005 planning law to carve out exemptions for things the States should be able to modify, suspend or remove by States resolution, including GP11. Second, we will need to change GP11 by States resolution.

‘I did an initial draft of the requete. It has been to the Law Officers, who suggested some changes which are fine with me. We will try to get it to the States as soon as possible.’

In January last year, the Development & Planning Authority announced that it would complete a review of the Island Development Plan in 2025.

Deputy Dyke said other members of the DPA had ‘mixed views’ about his requete.

States urged to back DPA's GP11 review, not requete

Development & Planning Authority president Victoria Oliver. (32909281)

Development & Planning Authority president Victoria Oliver has expressed her doubts that an imminent requete could achieve its aim of scrapping controversial planning policy GP11.

The authority has looked at numerous ways of changing GP11 before settling on its current review of the Island Development Plan as the quickest and best route.

‘If the requete fails, nothing changes. If it passes, I think they might find themselves coming up against the same difficulties I have experienced when trying to find ways to amend GP11,’ said Deputy Oliver.

‘Our focused review, which we are aiming to get to the States in February next year, provides for proper consultation with interested parties, including the public, which is what is necessary ahead of amending the IDP.

‘If I could have found a quicker way of amending GP11, I would have.’

GP11 requires housing developments of more than 20 units to include a certain percentage of affordable accommodation. Its critics believe it discourages housebuilding.

An advanced draft of the requete has been written by DPA member John Dyke. But Deputy Oliver said it had not yet been shared with her or the authority.

She said she and Deputy Dyke ‘shared the same aims on this issue’ and she was eager to see whether those supporting the requete had new information.

‘If they have found a way to secure the changes which are necessary, I think that would be really positive.

‘I don’t necessarily see the requete as negative.

‘A debate in the States would at least give us a steer as to how members feel about this.’

Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, vice-president of Employment & Social Security, which is responsible for social housing, said she had concerns about the draft requete.

She urged Deputy Dyke and his supporters to back the DPA’s current review instead of ‘undermining’ it and ‘wasting taxpayers’ money’ to set up a parallel piece of work.

‘The review will make evidence-based recommendations to address the known issues with GP11 and the States will then have the opportunity to make well-informed decisions,’ said Deputy de Sausmarez.

‘I know how detailed and thorough the work is, taking into account not just States members’ views, but more importantly a wide range of other stakeholders’ too, for example developers and those who need affordable housing.

‘I’m confident the DPA’s review will result in recommendations that will work well for developers and the affordable housing programme alike.’

Deputy de Sausmarez said GP11 would help to provide hundreds of additional units of affordable housing in the next few years, but added that ESS agreed it was not working as effectively as was originally intended.