The Guernsey Open Market is a very important sector in our island’s property portfolio. It is excellent to see it flourishing with a great deal of local and distant interest in it.

Originally conceived in the 1980s as a simplified means of ownership (by those without local qualifications or permit), it has since attracted many thousands of residents over the years.

Today, the number of properties inscribed on the Open Market register is around 1,600 of a total housing stock (Local Market and Open Market) in the region of 60,000.

Of those 1,600 Open Market properties, a large proportion of them are classified as ‘Part A’ Open Market properties, which are defined as being a private dwelling house, used as a single family unit.

A recent piece of legislation, the Population Management (Guernsey) Law, 2016, {read alongside the Open Market Housing Register (Guernsey) Law, 2016} has streamlined housing arrangements in the island from an older statute that dated to 1994. 

Those legal pillars aside, what is often of more practical concern to most people is the state and condition of their home.

The purpose of this short note is to briefly set out (for Part A Open Market Properties) the planning law position for property improvement in parallel with the Population Management stance.


Planning Law

The Island Development Plan (“IDP”), again dating to 2016 (a busy legislative  year!), has given new flexibility to our planning regime. 

It replaced the outdated Rural Area Plan and Urban Area Plan, by consolidating those rules into a unified islandwide policy book.

As one might expect, there are general planning policies (covering things like amenity, overlooking, design and so on), and more specific policies depending upon the nature of the proposed development.

Concerning demolition and rebuilding a house, a number of planning policies are likely to apply. 

Depending upon where the property is situated, it may be in a Conservation Area, or perhaps in an Agricultural Priority Area. The property may be listed, or it may have protected trees within its boundary.  These are all factors which will shape how a planning application is made.

The likely policy that will affect any such application, regardless of site location, is “Policy GP13: Householder Development”. 

Proposals for demolition of existing dwellings and the creation of replacement dwellings on a one for one basis will be supported if three criteria are met. 

The first criterion is that such development will have no significant adverse effects on the amenities of neighbouring properties.

The second criterion is that the design, scale, mass and form would not detract from the open character of open locations.  It is therefore feasible that this may not apply in every case.

The third criterion is that the development does not affect the special interest of a Conservation Area or Area of Biodiversity Importance or protected building or protected monument.  As above, the site-specific circumstances will determine whether this precondition is even engaged.

In the event that a homeowner wishes to extend their domestic curtilage at the same time as demolition and rebuilding (to enable a greater area for permitted development), then a different policy will need to be considered.

Whilst the planning maze might at first seem fraught with difficulty, your professional team will be well versed in navigating it, and to help you reach the right outcome.


Population Management

From a different perspective, but equally important, is where a Part A Open Market owner and resident would live (in Guernsey) for the rebuilding period.

In these circumstances, policy does allow for an application to be made for a Discretionary Residents Permit (DR25), and which costs £100. 

That application is made through the www.gov.gg Population Office portal, and is supported by photographic identification, a current Right to Work document number (if held), and finally documentary evidence of the development work being carried out if no planning permission is needed.

If the DR25 application is successful, it means that the person (and their immediate and extended family) will be granted a temporary Permit so that they can live all in the Local Market as a household for a period of up to 2 years.

Typically, such a DR25 Permit would be granted if there is major development work taking place at the Part A property, and it is not practical to live in the property for the duration of the building work.  Evidence would need to be produced setting out why, for example, it is not possible to rent a property in the Open Market.

Once again, the time spent to produce and submit a well-considered and evidence-based application is inevitably well worth it.


Conclusion

Guernsey planning law recognises that we have aspirations to develop our own property, and those wishes need to be balanced alongside wider planning policy. 

Guernsey population management law respects citizens’ human rights to private life and the enjoyment of family, and any interference in those rights must be fair and proportionate.

Happily, there are gateways in both regimes for balance to be achieved, and yet to help a Part A Open Market property owner to build their dream home.

Author Alastair Hargreaves Advocate & Managing Partner