Guernsey Press

DPA member claims staff blocked changes to GP11

Civil servants have been accused of blocking deputies’ efforts to speed up the development of new housing.

DPA member John Dyke speaking on the latest Guernsey Press Politics Podcast. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33164902)

Development & Planning Authority member John Dyke said he was angry and impatient with planning officials who he alleged had spent years thwarting the suspension or removal of controversial planning policy GP11.

He claimed that hundreds of additional homes would have been built over the past few years if planning officers had not been determined to keep GP11, which requires larger developments to include social housing.

The States will debate a requete this week which could give deputies new powers to disregard GP11. Amendments have been submitted which propose effectively suspending the policy for two or five years.

  • Hear more on the latest Guernsey Press Politics Podcast

‘It’s clear that our officials absolutely do not want to change GP11. We were never going to get good advice as to how to do it. That has been the problem,’ said Deputy Dyke.

‘I’m afraid I’m just being blunt on that. I’m so annoyed at this point with what has been happening.

‘Every year this has gone on, we have had normal private houses which could have come forward for young couples, with three bedrooms for a couple of children and a dog, which have not been built by the hundred.

‘It’s absolutely infuriating. We have gone on year after year after year not fixing it. I’m upset about it.’

Deputy Dyke has been among a group of States members who have been looking for a way to suspend or scrap GP11 since soon after the 2020 general election.

He said that officials’ intransigence about GP11 caused the normal process of policy development to ‘break down’ inside the DPA and forced him to lead a requete against his own committee’s policy.

‘The responsibility is ours as politicians, but it is surprising how things operate,’ said Deputy Dyke.

‘I’m a new politician and it took a couple of years to work out what one was up against. I’m aware of that now.

‘I had to bring the requete outside of the committee because it wasn’t going to get done inside the committee.’

Deputy Dyke was speaking on the latest episode of the Guernsey Press Politics Podcast, alongside two other members of the DPA, president Victoria Oliver and vice-president Andrew Taylor.

Some DPA members were particularly disappointed that officials did not advise them of ways that GP11 could be set aside, which have since been proposed in amendments to the requete submitted by Deputies Lyndon Trott and Lindsay de Sausmarez.

Deputy Oliver praised senior officials for working hard, but revealed that she had told them that their approach to advising the DPA on GP11 has been below the standard expected.

‘We’ve had answers for the reasons why. I think generally it was that they just didn’t think about it, if I’m honest [but] I don’t think they let us down,’ she said.

‘I think we’ve got the extremes. John thinks the officials do not do their job. Andy thinks they are amazing. I’m probably somewhere in the middle.’

Deputy Taylor defended the DPA’s officials for working to policy directions set by the States Assembly.

‘You need to look at the actual States resolutions put to the DPA. It’s fair to say officials have been working to them,’ he said.

‘There was an amendment which instructed us to look at tariffs in lieu of affordable housing [GP11]. That has absolutely been worked on.

‘There is a report which has not been published yet but is with the DPA and we’ve been discussing it. Officials have worked very hard to take into account the direction of the States.’