The Development & Planning Authority has rejected suggestions of suspending some planning laws to help tackle the housing crisis, saying it’s not within its mandate to do so.
Last month the States agreed the Strategic Housing Indicator, noting a need for over 1,500 new homes across the private and public sector between now and 2027. That’s over 300 per year.
Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, President of Environment & Infrastructure, who successfully steered the housing indicator through the States, noted that the average rate of housing delivery in the last decade has been “just 149 units” per year.
To meet the assessed need both private developers and the States would need to double the average rate of building each year, every year.
During debate, Deputy Carl Meerveld argued the current government is constrained in enacting change to speed up the delivery of house building and proposed radical measures to expedite action.
“What can this assembly do to address this? Once we recognise that the housing crisis has very broad reaching implications, which are negatively impacting every member of our community in one way or another, the lack of supply is driving up accommodation costs to unaffordable levels, forcing people to leave the island - particularly the younger generation.
“Based how on how serious and urgent this issue is, I recommend the Policy & Resources Committee work with the DPA to develop recommendations to suspend sections of the Island Development Plan, such as GP11, to… facilitate delivery and bring a policy letter to this assembly recommending we declare a housing emergency."
P&R President Deputy Peter Ferbrache had claimed just days earlier that “radical” measures would be needed to improve the accommodation situation, suggesting that working within the current rules is “inadequate”.
Pictured: Deputy Carl Meerveld.
Deputy Meerveld continued: “Do you utilise emergency powers to temporarily suspend sections of the IDP and then issue a challenge to the private developers to utilise the suspension to deliver much needed accommodation in the next few years. Declaring an emergency would show bravery as Deputy Ferbrache mentioned and follow his action now mantra. I hope that P&R and the DPA will take this suggestion seriously and can act on it."
But Deputy Victoria Oliver, President of the DPA, later told Express “it is not within the mandate of the DPA to decide when emergency powers can be introduced.
“There are a number of different reasons why housing may not be delivered quickly and there is no quick fix or simple solution. The responsibility for housing sits across several committees.
“However, in terms of our mandate, we are focused on ensuring sufficient levels of land supply for housing which we are reviewing as part of the focused examination of certain policies within the Island Development Plan.
“Until there are any changes to the IDP, we must work in accordance with existing policies. However, we take the current pressures on housing very seriously which is why we brought forward the focused review of the IDP.”
Express has reached out to P&R for comment.
Pictured: DPA President, Deputy Victoria Oliver.
Modifications to the Island Development Plan require a lengthy planning inquiry and approval from States members. It’s focused review on the supply of land for housing work is due to conclude in 2025.
The first step is for the Authority to research and propose amendments to planning laws, before spending a year consulting the public, holding hearings, and compiling reports which will form an official recommendation to the States.
Deputies will then need to debate and approve the changes. If any amendments are subsequently proposed by politicians during debate another public inquiry will be required.
The DPA are also reviewing this entire process to see if it could be streamlined to better respond to changing societal needs.
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