Well here I am ensconced at The Elms, the HQ of the National Trust for Jersey. There was indeed a dairy-related incident here this morning when a cow (a Jersey one of course) escaped into the tenant’s garden next door. Tea and cake was needed after that to help everyone settle down again.
I’m here as part of my secondment work, and will be helping NTJ with various planning-related issues but the main objective of my work is to advise on and help them with their engagement with the new Island Plan, on which the Government of Jersey has just commenced work and which is due to be adopted in early 2021. NTJ is concerned that the current Island Plan does not provide an adequate framework for sustainable development and the protection of the natural and historic environment. Jersey is likely to face significant increase in population and therefore increased demand for housing and other development. If you think migration has become a hot topic in the UK, you ought to hear it here! NTJ takes a broad interest in the island’s environment and heritage, as well as owning property which it wishes to safeguard from the adverse impacts of development and the pressure for growth. My work will involve building relationships with both JNT and the Government planners and identifying opportunities for the NTJ to influence the content of the new Island Plan.
My home from home on Jersey is the Officers’ Quarters at Greve de Lecq Barracks, a NTJ property on the north coast. I have a view of the sea from my bed, and my own cannon at the front.
I have the use of a little green Peugeot, so at lunch time today I popped out to some NTJ land at St Ouen’s (pronounced “Wons”) Bay to see the most amazing display of orchids, including the rare Jersey or Loose Flowered Orchid. Stunning. And a marsh harrier overhead. There was just time to call at the Braze, my favourite beach grill, for a vanilla milk shake. I’ve discovered that the best way to navigate around Jersey is by church or jewellery showroom, so to get to The Elms I follow the signs for Catherine Best Jewellery, go past St Mary’s Church, turn right by the Methodist Church, then go down the hill and take a sharp left then under the stone archway.
I’ve come back to find I’m alone in the office – there’s a new Council Members’ induction visit today. I daren’t answer the phone in case I end up enrolling people onto the wrong National Trust …
NTJ is small but perfectly formed. I’m impressed with their conservation ethic and the wide range of work they do, and how much they achieve with only about a dozen permanent staff. They have strong local support and, with the help of some unexpected and welcome bequests, have recently completed important renovation work of buildings in the capital, St Helier, to add to their mainly rural portfolio. Yesterday I sat in on their (volunteer run) Planning Panel which scrutinises the Island’s planning applications from the heritage point of view. They were a dedicated bunch, and I soon realised that everyone knows everyone here!
Tomorrow I’ll be concentrating on the Jersey Coastal “National Park”, currently a marketing ploy rather than a planning designation with teeth, and going out with Charles Alluto, the NTJ Chief Executive, to see some of the more challenging sites.