Blog: Pass me a hoverboard! Going Back To The Future, St Helier style

Split screen of a St Helier drone shot and Back to the Future posters
Credit: ITV Channel TV/PA

When Marty McFly went back to the future, from 1985 to 2015, in the famous film, it was all about hologram billboards, self-fastening trainers and hoverboards to get from A to B.

Back on Planet Reality, well Jersey, there’s an attempt to forecast the future going on right now in the island’s capital.

I clapped eyes on a 17-page document called the Parish of St Helier Strategic Plan 2020-2025 last night. I found it, quite unexpectedly, when looking at details of the annual Parish Rates Assembly meeting that takes place this evening.

Those who turn up will get to vote on the 2020/2021 budget and a plan to freeze parish rates, but they’ll also be asked to agree to this fairly benign looking document which plots a path for town over the next five years.

It’s all very strategic, which means you can usually substitute the word “vague”, and this one is no different. It’s about making St Helier “vibrant” and “safe” and “engaging”. But beneath the usual buzzwords there is a little bit of meat on the bone that gives you some clues about where the parish sees itself by 2025.

Decent housing, more green space, clean streets, a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists, and the like.

So, it got me to wondering what St Helier could look like in just 60 months from now.

I took to Twitter to ask people for their thoughts: Specifically, if there was *one* thing you could change to improve St Helier, what would it be?

The response was phenomenal. Dozens upon dozens of contributions from people who clearly care about town.

What was interesting was how many ideas were in conflict with each other.

For example, for every “ban all cars” there was a “make parking free”. For every “stop this pedestrianisation nonsense” there was a “let’s have more alfresco dining in the streets”.

In other words, you just know you can’t and won’t please all the people all the time.

There were also suggestions that Central Market could be a gourmet food market, much like they have in Madrid. And, having visited the Spanish inspiration, I personally would love the idea of something like that in town.

Then there was turning the Fort into something like the Eden Project.

Calls for a health and specialist university campus.

A tram connecting town to St Aubin.

The list goes on.

What it showed me is that people care.

We may not be looking for hoverboards by 2025, but if the powers that be in the Parish of St Helier really are intent on listening to people and running with some of the ideas, there’s every chance for Jersey’s Back To The Future journey to be an exciting one for the good of us all.