In my 40-plus years in local property, from my time as a junior conveyancer up to date running ND Estates and ND Property Management, the one thing that I have realised, both personally and for many others, is the difficulty in finding housing in Jersey and the cost of housing be it rent or mortgage levels.
40 or so years ago, the States granted planning permission to various developers to build developments on farming land, for example, Maufant Village, phase 2, the Pottery site at Clos de Sargeant, St John's Village. In the 1990s and places such as Sion Village were developed and in the 2000's Clos des Charmes, La Providence and Le Clos Vaze. Unfortunately, as the population ages, and grows and families grow up, and new generations evolve, all need somewhere to live.
Some people start with an apartment. However, in all cases, price is a sensitive issue. It has always been the case that the price of first-time buyer properties has been an issue. In the 1970s and 1980s, a lot of purchasers were funded by what was known as the States Loan, which was a sum up to a maximum price. At that time the Housing Committee also had in force something called price control which limited the price for which a property could be sold. One consequence of the States Loan was that when the maximum value of the loan was increased, say from £38,000 to £42,000 the underlying property asset would increase by some and more.
The States Loan ended and since that point the market has moved on. There remains a shortage of 3 and 4-bedroom houses and this will not be resolved until, unfortunately, more sites are released or found to build houses on.
There is a forthcoming States debate about vacant properties that is due this week. I am not sure that a snapshot of a moment in time in the census is the ideal benchmark for vacant properties. Some of those properties could have been awaiting development, some in-between tenancies and being marketed. You can also see the Ann Street site standing idle awaiting development, and another site that was proposed for housing, Gas Place, now being held for schooling when a housing project was ready to go.
Ultimately we probably need a Planning system that is more attuned to the needs of the Island in 2022 and perhaps more flexible in the approach to where developments are to take place, and unfortunately, again individual politicians blocking sites in the interim Island Plan may not have helped matters.
We shall see what happens but at the moment hope for new homes seems a little stalled.