Guernsey Press

Hopes for more homes as deputies turn on GP11

A CONTROVERSIAL affordable housing policy, which has been accused of stifling house building in the island, could be effectively scrapped for five years, by an amendment from two committee presidents.

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Policy & Resources president Lyndon Trott and Development & Planning Authority president Victoria Oliver are putting forward a proposal which would see the GP11 requirement for affordable housing reduced to 0% on developments until May 2029. (33112514)

Policy & Resources president Lyndon Trott, supported by Development & Planning Authority president Victoria Oliver, acting against her own planning policy, are putting forward a proposal which would see the GP11 requirement for affordable housing reduced to 0% on developments until May 2029.

This would apply to both new and undecided planning applications.

Aside from the move from the two deputies, two other committee presidents have also sounded the alarm about a requete proposed by Deputy John Dyke which also seeks ultimately to scrap GP11 in a bid to get the housing market moving.

Deputies Trott and Oliver say that the States must focus on facilitating and incentivising housing development and removing barriers, and they believe that this amendment to the requete would be the best way to achieve that.

GP11 currently requires developments of 20 units or more to include a percentage of social or affordable housing.

Deputy Dyke’s requete has proposed enabling the States to encourage the provision of residential properties, without any of the procedures for amendments to development plans or the Strategic Land Use Plan.

This could include removing GP11.

The two deputies say, in an explanatory note on their amendment, that their option would lead to change in the affordable housing policy much sooner, and restricted to the end of the next political term, running to 2029.

The remaining members of the DPA who are not involved in the requete have backed the amendment, while Deputy Trott and Deputy Oliver have been joined by Environment & Infrastructure president Lindsay de Sausmarez and Employment & Social Security president Peter Roffey in raising concerns about it.

In defence of his requete, Deputy Dyke has said: ‘For ordinary people who need to buy a house for a couple of children and a dog, they can’t buy anything right now because it’s too expensive.

‘We have to get the supply moving forward, and removing GP11 is one thing we can do.’

In response to the requete, Deputy Trott said his committee was particularly concerned about a proposal to allow the States to adopt planning policies without public consultation, or not necessarily complying with the Strategic Land Use Plan.

‘The committee agrees that accelerating a change is necessary, but should be narrowed and time-bound to protect the integrity of the legislation underpinning the island’s strategic land use planning,’ he said in his letter.

‘On this basis it is concerned at the scope of change envisaged by the requerants and seeks to offer the States another choice to address the single issue given its strategic importance, but with less risk of disruption to the whole planning service and its unintended consequences.’

Employment & Social Security president Peter Roffey said its members agreed that adjustments were needed to GP11 and increased flexibility. But they were concerned that Deputy Dyke’s requete could have unintended negative consequences.

‘Other workstreams and approaches are in progress that should deliver balanced adjustments that work more broadly than the proposals set out in this requete,’ he said. ‘Alternative options should be considered... rather than loosening control of wider planning policies.’

Deputy Oliver agreed with her fellow presidents.

‘The requete does not currently envision any provisions for proportionate checks and balances such as the requirement for any type of public consultation,’ she said.

E&I only recently launched an exploration into how to stimulate private market housing development.

Committee president Lindsay de Sausmarez warned that drafting legislation for the requete would waste time and delay other important legislative priorities.

‘The committee shares the requerants’ undoubted desire to encourage more housing – both private and affordable – to come forward, and therefore recommends that this requete is rejected to avoid its unintended negative impacts and focus instead on effecting more effective solutions to the housing crisis,’ she said.

The requete and the amendment are set to be discussed at the States meeting on 24 April.