Endless Development?

Unless Jersey continues to reclaim land and eventually becomes a sort of ever growing doughnut shaped atoll one far off day we will probably have to stop developing on new ground. About 10 years ago is when I’d have liked this to happen (or twenty even) but realistically I doubt if there’s really an end in sight.

Also, despite the assumption that we do want some open land to be left, and various protestations by political appointees, I don’t see much real protection of our countryside as new development quietly erodes the spaces left between current building.

Jersey could be viewed as a microcosm – Looking down it is easy to see it as an ideal location, with it’s clearly defined boundaries and manageable size, for a very big laboratory experiment, a metaphor. If we were willing to be more scientific, we could probably create an industry of social and environmental self analysis as population density increases and space decreases, and sell the results, because our problem will come to everyone in time. We cannot simply continue to grow.

Key West in the USA is a good example of expansion with finite space, and should be seen as a lesson, or warning in planning for the future.

Actually I’m just going to come out and say it. “I want development of any sort on greenfield land to stop. Not one more field. I want brownfield land used to better effect. I want high density development to remain in and around town to minimise traffic and vehicle reliance and encourage quality urban living and environment. I want to see as many open tracts of land unspoilt by building as possible. I want definition of villages improved and the integrity of village boundaries respected – I want a commuter service that people use and which really reduces traffic but I also want the traffic to be able to run freely without idiots slapping 20mph limits everywhere. Stop diminishing the use of common sense. If people speed and are a danger to others penalise them – properly, make it very very unpleasant for them. If they pee and puke in the street and are a nuisance – make them regret that too. But don’t just criminalise everyone for driving at 35mph in a 30. (Remember speed cameras in the underpass debacle?)

And I also want to know – Developers? Dandara? What is going on? It seems that the developers are just doing what they like?

Key West a hundred years ago was a small island and marsh. The marsh was drained, which increased the size of the usable land from ten square miles to fifty. Since 1970 all of that land, apart from parks, beaches, a golf course and the airport, has been developed upon.

Another mechanism in the development and rezoning of land is the National Park.

National Parks – I want the North and West coasts of the island to be a national park – without 28 houses on the former Plemont holiday camp site. But why not make all of the coast a national park – and include all the Ramsar areas of the south west of the island, and the sand dunes SSI (currently buried under dog shit but more of that later). Although I want this the trouble with National Parks is that they are a product of over development and loss of natural environments; An admission that there isn’t much left “so we better do something”, and once created, they are used to justify further development on surrounding land. They are an excuse, or a guilty response. Look at Kenya.

National Parks, if we all carry on as we are, will be all that is left. And they’ll be like zoos. Tiny isolated oases  of wildlife and countryside dwarfed by what our environmental department lovingly calls “our built environment”.

The most frustrating thing about all of this though is that in Jersey we can actually do just about whatever we like – maybe not declare war on Guernsey, but you know what I mean. We could be the most progressive jurisdiction in the World. A World Leader. But we have a self preserving and entrenched bureaucracy (and I mean REALLY entrenched) that doesn’t like change. And a mindset that doesn’t think “what could we do?” but “why do you want to do that?”. We have decisions made on our so-called behalf that are often not only glaringly wrong, sometimes suspect, and even truly bewildering, but usually with such visible results that we are reminded of them every day. Just think Havres des pas, (One ruined bay) The Waterfront (view over growing industrial wasteland) The Harbour (another ruined bay). Jersey once was proud of all of its beaches. I went to Bouley Bay today, which was lovely and unspoilt, and it reminded me of just how awful St Aubins is now.

I have lost faith in much of what I see the States of Jersey doing – so either they’re doing a lousy public relations job, which is quite likely, considering what Tourism produces, or they genuinely are crap.

And I want to know which it is.

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{ 2 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. Or more intelligent / valuable economic growth per capita.

    Thank you for your response,

    GF

  2. Totally agree with all the sentiments of this article. I would presonally take it further and argue the only long term solution is zero (or better yet, negative) population growth. But to do that would be to accept zero (or negative) economic growth, and this seems more appaling a prospect than the future of the planet to most.

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