The Development & Planning Authority has successfully convinced the States assembly to grant it new powers to fine unsightly property, despite the original Policy Letter being diluted by an amendment excluding residential property and domestic curtilage.
A new ordinance should now be constructed under section 46 of the Land Planning and Development Law (2005) giving the DPA the power to serve civil notices to the owners of land and property perceived to be negatively impacting the amenity of an area.
When the DPA originally sought these new powers, its president, Deputy Victoria Oliver said: "Islanders and visitors already enjoy the beauty of our island, but we're all aware of sites which spoil our otherwise picturesque scenery. As well as making the most efficient use of our space, this would be an opportunity to further improve the charm of our island and deter the creation of more eyesores."
She said the powers would allow the DPA to do something about derelict shops and redundant visitor accommodation. The Policy Letter came after extensive consultation with the douzaines of each parish, once in 2018 and then again in 2022.
Similar provisions exist not only in the UK, but in Jersey and Alderney too. Additionally, the ordinance would exclude greenhouses.
Despite the Policy Letter passing, its reach and scope was reduced by a successful amendment from Deputies Neil Inder and Adrian Gabriel. They argued that people’s homes and gardens should be excluded from the legislation because the government has no place in telling people how to present their private properties. The DPA itself agreed with the amendment and it was voted through 31 – 5.
Pictured: President of the DPA, Deputy Victoria Oliver.
A second far more contentious amendment, this time from Deputies Lester Queripel and – again – Inder, clarified that the DPA’s new powers should also extend to States’ property and land.
Deputy Oliver said the amendment would lead to disagreements between separate committees.
"My heart says that this is – maybe - a good idea. I believe wherever possible, the States should lead by example. However, in my head, I just think this is wrong,” she said.
"I do think the maintenance of the State's... properties is really appalling. However, I just think this will bring the States into disrepute. We will have committees voting on committees saying ‘STSB or Education or Home Affairs properties, where they're not used anymore, you have to do something with it’. Then they'll go to P&R and they'll say ‘no, we haven't got any money to fix it’. So, then we'll be suing each other which is just absolutely ridiculous.
“This is just not a good way of spending taxpayers' money, by suing each other.”
Despite the concerns raised, it was narrowly voted through by 18 votes to 17 (three didn’t vote and two people weren’t present).The clipped Policy Letter was then up for general debate, with Deputy Gabriel wondering if these new powers were at all necessary.
“Is there really a blight of derelict commercial premises and hotels across the island?” he asked. “Not everywhere I look.”
He repeated a mantra which had echoed throughout out the debate, that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and questioned “what is unsightly?”. He said the policy was a sledgehammer to crack a nut and that he wouldn’t be voting for it.
It got through 24 to 12 with three ‘ne vote pas’ and one absentee. The ordinance will now need to be constructed to sit under section 46 of the LPD law.
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