Friday, 17 July 2009
Freddie and the Dreamers – A Jersey Nightmare
When Freddie Cohen invited the States to re-elect him as Minister for Planning he gave a speech which included certain planning policy promises.
He nailed his colours to the Esplanade Quarter Development Plan and how this was essential to generate the £50 to £75 Millions that were absolutely necessary for much of the St Helier Town Regeneration.
Of course, now that the Esplanade Quarter development is shelved - and there may well be some hefty claims yet from the likes of Harcourt – the whole plan is in the bin.
So the worrying suggestion that the Esplanade Quarter might be rescued by building huge amounts of office space for States Departments is especially worrying.
In other words, the Jersey taxpaying public is, once again likely to be the fall guy and will be required to guarantee occupation of fancy new offices that nobody else wants – all so that the crazy obsession with growth can be fulfilled and Jersey can look like Dubai.
Freddie promised that Planning consent would only be given by him for the Esplanade Quarter if the developer;
1) Proved that they have the financial ability to carry it out and
2) Demonstrated that they have tenant demand.
And he assured the States “We need to ensure that no risks are taken.”
The Regeneration of St Helier is the key of past, existing and proposed Island Plans.
Yet it was only the Ann Court fiasco that suddenly reminded Freddie and his sleepy officers they had a very long term commitment to prepare Area Development Plans for many parts of town.
All of a sudden, in a panic, he instructed outside consultants to cobble together an instant policy plan for the whole area of town from St Saviour’s Road to David Place with the “Millennium Park” and Ann Court at its centre.
Presumably, the consultants will have that plan ready just as soon as they can smoke enough fags to make enough packets available to scribble on - but the collapse of Freddie and Phil’s Esplanade dream means that it will be yet more waste paper because there will be no money to build anything.
“We must resist all temptation to use the Waterfront money for anything other that town regeneration” Freddie promised. But he also said that “there must be a virtual ban on green field development for the foreseeable future” – a policy that he does not even apply to himself and his own SSI property in leafy St John!
We at “The Voice” have previously challenged Freddie about granting permission for offices that nobody wants and he has claimed that “there is nothing in the Planning Law that prevents the Planning Minister granting permission for development – whether or not there is an apparent demand for it.”
He has also claimed that it is “not really the job of the planning system to ascertain demand other than in exceptional cases such as the Waterfront.”
So, shall we now see some desperate fag packet designs for States office developments in “Old Town” soon in order that Freddie and Phil’s free marketeering nightmare grinds on and St Helier’s route from ancient, busy town of character to planning Ghetto is assured?
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.