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Claims about social housing policy GP11 are "complete moonshine"

Claims about social housing policy GP11 are

Wednesday 02 February 2022

Claims about social housing policy GP11 are "complete moonshine"

Wednesday 02 February 2022


Deputy Peter Roffey is standing firm behind a controversial policy which he amended into the Island Development Plan and says it is "complete moonshine" to claim that it has held back housing developments.

Policy GP11 was adopted by the States when they debated the Island Development Plan in 2016.

The Development & Planning Authority originally proposed that any new development of five houses or more should include a proportion of social or affordable housing. A successful amendment by Deputy Roffey saved the policy from likely defeat but raised the threshold from five units to 20 units. 

Several States' members and some developers blame GP11 for discouraging new housing developments over the past few years and have recently increased their calls for the policy to be suspended or scrapped.

Deputy John Dyke, who is a member of the Development & Planning Authority and a consistent critic of GP11, is said to be leading work on how some policies in the Island Development Plan could be changed ahead of a lengthy wholesale review of the Plan in future years.

GP11

Pictured: Deputy Peter Roffey led an amendment to the Island Development Plan which requires developments which exceed a certain size to incorporate social or affordable housing.  

Deputy Victoria Oliver, the President of the Development & Planning Authority, was recently quoted as saying that developers "can kind of get around GP11".  

She later said that her phrase was a clumsy reply to a question and that what she had meant was that the Island Development Plan contains exceptions, particularly within GP11, to ensure that developments are not discouraged.

For example, one exception can vary the number of social housing units which must be included in a new development if the development would be unviable without such variations.

The role of GP11 was the subject of Rule 14 written questions from Deputy Lester Queripel, which Express is reporting on today. 

Deputy Queripel opposed Deputy Roffey's amendment to GP11 and claims his opposition has been justified by the lack of new housing developments since the Island Development Plan, including GP11, was approved.  

Deputy_Victoria_Oliver_and_Deputy_Lester_Queripel.jpg

Pictured: Deputy Victoria Oliver, President of the Development & Planning Authority, has answered written questions submitted by Deputy Lester Queripel about planning policies on affordable housing. 

Deputy Roffey insists that GP11 is beneficial and necessary and disagrees with claims that private developers are discouraged from putting up larger housing developments because of the need to include affordable or social housing.

He agrees that GP11 may require tweaks to work as well as it can, but he hopes moves to suspend or scrap it entirely do not succeed. 

"Of course the Development & Planning Authority is quite right that the requirement under GP11 to provide a percentage of plots for affordable homes, within any development of 20 units or more, is not absolute," said Deputy Roffey.

"It can indeed be reduced, or completely foregone, if the requirement can be shown to prejudice the viability of a proposed development.

"That is why the claim by a few of my colleagues that GP11 is holding back developments is complete moonshine.

"However, when it comes to the announced and then un-announced plans for the Castel Hospital site, it beggars belief that the percentage for affordable housing would render the project unviable.

"Here we are talking about circa 90 upmarket homes, to be built on states-owned land, including virgin fields. That might be wholly unacceptable, but how on earth could it ever be commercially unviable. Therefore, GP11 must apply."

Deputy John Dyke

Pictured: Deputy John Dyke, a member of the Development & Planning Authority, is said to be leading investigations into the possibility of making amendments to the Island Development Plan, including GP11. 

Deputy Roffey says talk of GP11 being withdrawn is irresponsible and may encourage developers to delay new developments in the hope that doing so will absolve them of the need to include social or affordable housing. He thinks that persistent suggestions by some deputies over several years that GP11 may soon be suspended or scrapped could already have discouraged housing developments. 

"When the threshold for the provision of plots for affordable housing was set at 20 [my amendment], the intention was always that smaller developments [five to 19 houses] would make a cash contribution towards affordable housing in lieu. I would still like to see this happen," said Deputy Roffey.

"However, what is unhelpful is the constant references from a small number of deputies to the possible rescission of GP11. This is highly unlikely to happen and dangling the prospect acts as a strong brake on much-needed developments.

"The reality is that such a move would be retrograde and unable to be achieved without a lengthy process involving a planning inquiry. Nor has the Development & Planning Authority ever indicated an appetite to look to do away with this policy. What's more, it has already proved its worth with the purchase of Kenilworth Vinery affordable only due to factoring in GP11.

"I am sure that if the ill-informed speculation about doing away with it stops, GP11 will go on to really prove very valuable indeed during the life of this Assembly."

The Island Development Plan is intended to be a 20-year blueprint. A five-year review of it was shelved in 2020 due to the covid pandemic. As well as rules and guidance on housing developments, it covers agricultural and horticultural land and commercial developments and other types of land use and development. 

Pictured (top): Deputy Peter Roffey says that including social or affordable housing in larger developments is a vital element of the Island Development Plan and should be retained.

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