Planners just make life harder
Wednesday 30th October 2013, 4:00PM GMT.
THERE are times when running a business in Guernsey must seem like unnecessarily hard work.
Months before the UK government put a stop to LVCR – the VAT-free industry out of which small island flower firms and other homegrown exporters had carved a niche business – Stan Brouard Ltd were warning the States that its exploitation by the big boys such as HMV would prove its downfall.
Sure enough, with tax high on the UK government’s PR agenda, the ludicrous notion of shipping tons of goods to the island only to send them straight back to the UK became a vote-winning target and LVCR was no more.
It was a hollow victory which has yet to be shown to benefit UK businesses but, all-importantly, it allowed Westminster to look tough on tax avoidance.
Caught in the crossfire between flagrant tax abuse and a perfectly acceptable low tax trade were many island businesses and scores of jobs.
Among those who lost out were Stan Brouard, which has since been trying to ensure its business moves with the times by developing its Landes du Marche site.
No one has objected to its latest development plans, not the douzaine nor the business’s neighbours, who have accepted that they live next to an established island business.
Environment, however, does not see it like that. This is new retail space, in its view, despite the firm having traded since 1950 and being on that site for decades.
Those islanders who have shopped at Landes du Marche and bought clothing, fence panels and furniture might be surprised to hear that the retail side of the business is ‘ancillary or ordinarily incidental’.
It is doubtful it felt incidental to the shoppers at the time or to the people who work there and rely on retail for their wage.
Environment will no doubt say that it has to follow its rules and that common sense has nothing to do with planning decisions.
Yet, if there is any sense left in the planning process at all, the department will lose on appeal and all that will have been achieved is to waste one island firm’s time and money.