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FOCUS: States likely to debate key worker housing by end of June

FOCUS: States likely to debate key worker housing by end of June

Saturday 16 April 2022

FOCUS: States likely to debate key worker housing by end of June

Saturday 16 April 2022


Plans for more housing for essential healthcare workers look set to be debated by the States by the end of June.

Deputies who say they want to accelerate building more key worker housing - but rule it out on agricultural land and green fields - will submit a requête "over the next couple of weeks" in the hope it will be debated by the States at their meeting which starts on 29 June.

Earlier this week, Express revealed that the Committee for Health & Social Care and the Policy & Resources Committee are developing proposals to construct housing for nurses on a green field at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital. 

Deputies who oppose that scheme have spent the past few days drafting a requête which they hope will push the need for more key worker housing up the political agenda as well as requiring any such housing at the Hospital to be built on the site of the former Duchess of Kent residential home rather than in a green field nearby.

Deputy Peter Roffey has publicly taken the lead on behalf of the requérants and co-ordinated initial efforts to put together counter proposals to those from the Committees. He told Express that "the wording of the requête is currenly being finalised".

Deputy_Peter_Roffey_Deputy_David_Mahoney.jpg

Pictured: Deputies Peter Roffey (left) and David Mahoney disagree over the desirability of building houses for key workers in a green field on the site of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

"Our requête intends to prevent new staff quarters at the Hospital being built on an Agricultural Priority Area," said Deputy Roffey.

"A number of deputies are outraged at the idea of building in a green field when they believe other options are available.

"We may be too late for the matter to be discussed at next month's States' meeting, but we intend to submit our requête over the next couple of weeks so that it can be debated in June if the States agree."

Deputy Roffey said he had been "taken aback by the strong support among colleagues for saving the green field from development" and "hopes that sentiment will be shared by most of the States' Assembly".

States_chamber_and_nurses_collage.jpg

Pictured: Deputy Peter Roffey is among a group of deputies hopeful of securing the support of a majority of States' members for their proposal to accelerate additional key worker housing but not on green field sites.

"Our requête will give the States the opportunity to show support for the creation of many more key worker homes in the community," he said.

"But it will also instruct the Committee for Health & Social Care to focus on brownfield sites within the Hospital campus, such as the former Duchess of Kent House site, for any new staff accommodation needed next to the Hospital, in preference to building in green fields."

Where do key members stand on key worker housing?

The Committees at the centre of the debate - Health & Social Care and Policy & Resources - are openly divided on whether key worker housing at the Hospital should be built on a green field or on the site of the former Duchess of Kent residential home.

The green field plan has been driven this far by the President of the Committee for Health & Social Care, Deputy Al Brouard, and the property lead of the Policy & Resources Committee, Deputy David Mahoney.

Deputy Al Brouard

Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard, the President of the Committee for Health & Social Care, which by a majority believes that the site of the former Duchess of Kent residential home is needed for other purposes and should not be used for key worker housing.

On Friday, Deputy Mahoney said that "the majority of both Committees are wanting to develop these proposals and have agreed to explore them further" with the Development & Planning Authority.

However, 48 hours earlier, when asked whether he supported the green field proposals, Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, a member of the Policy & Resources Committee, said: "I haven't seen any proposals as yet."

Deputy Le Tocq also said that the site of the former Duchess of Kent residential home was "clearly the best site", which is essentially the argument being put forward by Deputy Roffey and his fellow requérants.

In January, Deputy Mahoney announced that the Policy & Resources Committee wanted to see dozens of large private homes built on green fields next to the Castel Hospital, but two weeks later the Committee said it had no such policy and that Deputy Mahoney had been sharing only his own ideas for the land. 

The Vice-President of the Policy & Resources Committee, Deputy Heidi Soulsby, has said publicly that she opposes the proposals to build key worker housing on a green field at the Hospital.

The Vice-President of the Committee for Health & Social Care, Deputy Tina Bury, has also publicly stated her opposition to the green field plan.

And another member of the Committee for Health & Social Care, Deputy Aidan Matthews, has said that he would like to avoid building key worker housing on the green field.

The President of the Development & Planning Authority, Deputy Victoria Oliver, has said publicly that there may be a policy in the Island Development Plan - known as Policy S5 - which could provide a lawful basis to build key worker housing on the green field at the Hospital, which would normally be ruled out by the island's planning policies.

Deputy Victoria Oliver

Pictured: Deputy Victoria Oliver, President of the Development & Planning Authority, which will have a key role in deciding whether a rarely-used planning policy, known as S5, could provide a gateway to approve any application to build key worker housing on a green field on the site of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

Deputy Roffey said that he could not recall another occasion during his 23 years in the States when he had found it easier to identify political supporters for a requête.

However, among States' members who are usually supportive of proposals taken to the Assembly by the Policy & Resources Committee, none has publicly expressed opposition to the green field plan. Since those members tend to comprise a majority in the Assembly, their silence so far could yet prove decisive to the outcome of the requête debate.

The timing of the States' debate

The requérants - which is the term given to the seven members who sign a requête - have missed the normal deadline for submitting items which will be debated by the States at their next meeting but one, which starts on 25 May. 

The next meeting after that starts on 14 June but is reserved for debate of the States' Accounts of 2021 and the annual Government Work Plan report. 

If the requête on key worker housing is finalised and submitted by 6 May, the Policy & Resources Committee must propose a date for it to be debated when they present an agenda of future business at the end of the States' meeting which starts on 25 May.

Ordinarily, this means the first meeting at which the requête could be debated is the one which starts on 29 June.

GHA key worker housing Ville au Roi

Pictured: There is broad agreement on the need for more key worker housing of the type built at Ville au Roi, above, but deputies are currently divided on where it should be built.

However, the Policy & Resources Committee and the States' Assembly have various means to schedule it for debate by the States at the end of May if they want the matter resolved sooner rather than later.

The timing of the States' consideration of the requête could be important to the outcome of the wider key worker housing debate.

The longer it takes for the States to schedule debate on the requête, the greater the possibility that the requête could be overtaken by other events.

These could include the Committee for Health & Social Care and the Policy & Resources Committee submitting a planning application to build on the green field at the Hospital or making progress on other potential sites for key worker housing.

READ MORE... 

Requête may propose key worker housing but not on green fields

Clash over site of key worker housing 

HSC wants more staff units at PEH

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