Developing derelict glasshouse sites would be ‘win-win’

Developing derelict glasshouse sites to ease the Island’s housing crisis would be a ‘win-win’ scenario and could have been included as part of the draft bridging Island Plan, the president of the Jersey Farmers’ Union has said.

Peter Le Maistre said the group had a ‘very clear’ and ‘balanced’ policy that on a seven- or eight-vergée glasshouse sites, ‘our preference is that you should be developing four vergées’ and returning the rest to farming.

The draft bridging Island Plan identified the need for thousands of new homes. Under the proposal, the government intends to build 4,150 homes by the end of 2025, with over a third (36%) being affordable homes, including key-worker accommodation. A total of 2,650 would be for the open market. There were already 625 affordable and 700 open-market homes under construction at the end of 2020, while 16 sites across seven parishes have been identified for affordable housing.

And 11 sites, many of which are agricultural fields, were identified for possible development – some of which were described as ‘strategically important' to the dairy industry and ‘good-quality farmland’ – under the plan, which will be voted on by the States later this year. However, the decision not to redevelop some of the Island’s disused glasshouse sites has been criticized by Mr. Le Maistre, who said there was an opportunity to use some of these areas for housing, while also ensuring that some parts could be restored for agriculture.

The bridging Island Plan policy on derelict and redundant glasshouses states that redevelopment for non-agricultural uses would ‘not be supported’, and would be considered for development for other uses ‘in only the most exceptional circumstances’. Mr. Le Maistre called this a ‘shame’ and said these sites could have been proposed as part of the plan.

An abundance of redundant sites remains in Jersey. Around half of the Island’s 155,000sqm of glasshouses were not in active use, according to government figures. ‘It is a win-win,’ said Mr. Le Maistre. However, he admitted that there could be problems around location and access, adding: ‘I am not saying it is suitable for every site.’

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