The National Trust of Guernsey doubts that the special policy gateway which could permit construction on the valley field within the grounds of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital has been satisfied by the States’ own planning application.
The charity has now laid out its objection to the plans to construct 66 units of key worker accommodation on an agricultural priority area in a letter to the Planning Service.
It states: “The requirements of policy S5 are clear but are not fully stated in the applicants covering letter… we do not believe that the evidence presented is sufficient to demonstrate that there is no alternative site available that is more suitable for the proposed development.
“Without such evidence it is impossible to make an objective consideration of the applicants’ assertions.
Planning policy S5 allows for development on land outside the parameters of the Island Development Plan if its requirement is deemed to be of strategic importance and there is no alternative, and more suitable, site available.
The National Trust also hit back at allegations that it is only focused on objecting to the valley field and not the increasing loss of agricultural land to domestic curtilage, arguing it “regularly raises objections to the change of use of agricultural land to domestic gardens, and have raised this several times both with the [DPA] and in the local media.
“It is misleading for those representing the applicant to make public statements suggesting that this is not the case.”
Pictured: The principal of building on the field triggered the first Requête of the political term. That Requete was lodged by (inset) Deputy Steve Falla).
A majority of the Policy & Resources Committee and Health & Social Care believe the development is necessary to sure up the recruitment of healthcare professionals by offering them purpose-built accommodation near to the job.
But opponents of the build, including the National Trust, believe other sites have not been given sufficient consideration.
“The supporting text of Policy S5 states that a detailed and comprehensive site selection study, together with more technical evidence such as environmental, economic, and social assessments, will be expected. In our opinion, this should include a presentation of the parameters for the development, diagrams indicating possible alternative sites that meet those parameters, with an objective assessment of each of those sites by the same criteria applied to the application site,” it said.
“The absence of demonstrative evidence relating to the choice of this site, over others, raises questions over how the choice was reached, and therefore, in our opinion, currently fails the test of Policy S5.”
Deputy Marc Leadbeater, a member of HSC, last week insisted that the States Property Unit undertook “a full and proper process” when considering the best location for the site before recommending the valley field for development.
DPA web page says deadline for objections to PEH build is 10 January, but, on the grapevine, due to States IT issues it's extending to 15th. The aerial shot below illustrates how building would interrupt a contiguous strip of green. There's still time to email: firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/ey5a4QwkL0— Steve Falla (@steve_falla) January 8, 2023
Pictured: Deputy Steve Falla suggested that the period for representations on the application could be extended due to States IT woes.
The National Trust also questioned whether sustainable considerations within the plans are sufficient, notwithstanding the loss of a green field used for agriculture.
“No mention is made of any mitigation of the effect of the proposed development other than that it may include a photovoltaic roof covering. To provide 120 car parking spaces for half the number of units, where the reasoning offered for the units themselves is that the accommodation facilitates essential workers living close to their place of work, seems utterly at odds with any form of sustainable development,” it said.
It added that if the field was always envisaged as an area for hospital expansion this should have been identified within the 2016 Island Development Plan. That would have prevented the need to attempt to build through protracted means like policy S5.
The charity also expressed surprise that no Development Framework is required for the development: “We would assert that the provision of accommodation on a green field, contrary to established policy, will set a precedent for the same or similar development from providers other than the States of Guernsey… the [DPA]may be creating a gateway for non-governmental agencies to pursue an aggressive legal argument to justify their own, less altruistic development proposals”.
Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, a signatory of the Requête attempting to prevent any construction on the field, told GNET radio last weekend that she understands some individuals are considering triggering a judicial review should the application be approved by the Development & Planning Authority.
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