The Six Roads zone, along with the areas around it, is among the safest residential locations in Barbados, and planners intend to intensify its development as a community and commerce centre covering St Philip and parts of Christ Church.
That is the conclusion of a team of planning consultants who have completed a new draft Physical Development Plan for the island. They are in the midst of six town hall meetings aimed at getting feedback from residents and the general public on whether the proposals are acceptable, or if there should be additional considerations.
“Six Cross Roads will embrace its potential as an inland community that is at reduced risk from climate change and will prioritize maintaining and improving resiliency in future growth,” explained urban designer Tyler Baker, the member of the planning team designated to speak about Six Roads and its immediate environs.
“Much of the island is vulnerable to rising sea level and storm surges, if there is a hurricane. Six Cross Roads is inland, so it is less at risk than some other places. So it is a good place to focus national infrastructure like schools and police stations,” he added on Saturday afternoon at the first town hall meeting which was held at the Princess Margaret Secondary School.
Urban planner on the consulting team, Yolanda Alleyne, explained that the Barbados Physical Development Plan is a policy document on how Barbados develops land use, settlement and other areas and it is now being renewed to cover the next five to ten years.
Stressing the importance of Barbadians’ contribution to the final plan, she indicated that the Chief Town Planer uses it to help in his decision-making.
Retired trade unionist Patrick Frost suggested, however, that the discretion to change the surroundings of a community should not be left to the Chief Town Planner only.
He said residents should be involved in the decision-making whenever land use applications propose an alteration to the landscape.
“At the very minimum, . . . anytime there is any change of use in any community, or in any group, the person putting in the application must hold a meeting with the residents in that area,” Frost said, adding that while Saturday’s meeting was fine for discussion of a long-term plan, there must be similar exercises for “individual change of use [applications, and] the community should be directly involved”.
The robust session of questions by residents in attendance and their suggestions did not, however, focus on the Six Roads area. They reflected interests of Bajans across the island, despite the explanation by meeting organizers that there would be six town hall gatherings to discuss 10 specific area development plans.
Delving further into plans related to that meeting, Baker said: “The vision for Six Cross Roads is that it will continue to develop as a regional centre, providing a range of amenities and community uses for the increased population in the southeast portion of the island.
“So, Six Cross Roads is meant to serve a wider community in Christ Church and St Philip. New development and investment will focus on improving the cohesiveness of the community”.
According to Baker, there will be a greater emphasis on pedestrian use.
“Right now, a lot of places in Six Roads are car-focused. You have to drive everywhere; walking isn’t necessarily all that comfortable, and we’re looking to provide ways that might be improved,” he said.
Baker also spoke about improved pedestrian routes, so that residents could walk around the community without necessarily have to go into the roundabout and cross through traffic.
The proposal also includes walking connections from the market, to the school, to the polyclinic, without pedestrians having to go onto the road.
St Philip resident John Goddard said all future development plans must demand that officers of the Town and Country Planning Office visit sites to ensure that all regulations were properly observed.