Planning delays demand an explanation

ISLANDERS should be under no illusion, despite the diplomatic comments from those trying to invest in infrastructure facilities and rebuild La Grande Mare. ‘Assessing the implications’ of Planning’s dithering over this keynote development actually means, ‘we’re close to pulling out’.

Trying to get a speedy service from Development and Planning is difficult enough for islanders wanting to carry out low-level domestic work. Developers routinely find it a nightmare.

Facilitating and enabling significant construction projects is an essential element of the Government Work Plan, and one of its priorities aimed at getting the island back on its feet following the Covid pandemic. The role that Planning has as an economic enabler is therefore significant.

Equally, its ability to delay and discourage is just as great. Striking a balance between these is difficult and few envy the DPA the role it has.

That said, demolishing an existing hotel and replacing it with a country club, reworking the current golf driving range and creating 15 new tourist lodges on an established visitor venue is not, on paper at least, significantly challenging.

Leaving aside due process and keeping over-development in check, there is something particularly disappointing about this friction between state and La Grande Mare.

The economics of such a project are minutely calculated, along with contractor availability, timescales and projected openings. Planners must know that and advise accordingly.

However we have the president of the DP&A ‘understanding’ La Grande Mare’s frustrations and thanking developers for their patience. Yet this rings hollow. Why would those behind such a long-term scheme be ‘assessing implications’ of the planning delays if the application was proceeding as expected?

The public perception of planning is that it’s a hotbed of red-tape and pettifoggery. This proposed development is so important to the island that a proper explanation of the delays is required and where the responsibility for that lies.

Then, perhaps, attention can turn to when La Grande Mare will get the go-ahead.

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