Development – the view from the north

PARISH douzaines are not noted for taking out double-page adverts in this newspaper to bring matters of public interest to a wider audience.

That St Sampson’s did so, supported by the Vale, is an indication of the frustration felt by the north over the lack of planning relating to essential island infrastructure.

So it follows any official response to those concerns – which the States highlighted as requiring attention 10 years ago – is of particular interest.

In her letter to St Sampson’s, the vice-president of Policy & Resources says that ‘…this States will have a very different approach to the island’s strategic infrastructure. We will be prepared to roll up our sleeves and take decisions; and enable the private sector as well as States’ trading entities to get on and get things done.’

Yet government’s letter of comment is far short of the action this day required by the scale of the problems identified by the parishes – nor is there any explicit acknowledgement by P&R that the north has a point.

This is an opportunity missed. Either there is agreement on the scale of the problem or there is not. Instead, selective issues are touched on but this is far from an official, ‘we agree, and will work with you…’

While elements might be regarded as parochial, the future of Leale’s Yard is a genuine island issue. Guernsey is short of housing, is trying to conserve greenfield sites and recognises that the whole Bridge area requires regeneration.

Utilising the derelict area off the Bridge resolves many central problems but instead building at Pointues Rocques and the greenfield site at Fontaine Vinery is being progressed because these sites are easier to develop.

That is government short-termism at its worst.

In its letter, P&R devotes 150 words to Leale’s Yard but there’s little in them that indicates how or when anything might happen, whether government recognises it has a responsibility to provide infrastructure such as roads, drains and flood defences, or how it will expedite matters.

The view from the north is clear – fine words butter no parsnips.

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