Old buildings owned by Government across the island are to be examined for an audit of state properties in an plan to lease them to organizations willing to spruce them up, Minister of Housing and Lands Charles Griffith has told Parliament.
Piloting a resolution to approve the lease of a parcel of Crown land for the local chapter of Royal Commonwealth Society.
The old Pine Plantation great house and grounds on 5,796 square feet of land at the Pine, St Michael, is earmarked for the headquarters and commercial office of the RCS in a 25-year lease.
The lease, which was approved by Cabinet back in April, is to be reviewed every five years, and the non-governmental organization is to carry out rehabilitation work on the building.
The “poor quality” of the building forced the Training Administration Division to leave several years ago, Griffith claimed.
He said the Commonwealth Society was one of many organizations seeking a home in Barbados to develop young people and in some cases, the elderly, and it was Government’s intention to turn those buildings over so the organizations could rehabilitate them.
“The society is to bare the cost of developing the site and to comply with the development plans as outlined by the Town and Country Planning,” said Griffith.
Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw expressed disappointment at the number of dilapidated or abandoned buildings especially in her St Michael South East constituency, saying she would love to see them put back in operation or turned into housing solutions to ease overcrowding.
Acknowledging that Government has not been able to adequately maintain many of its buildings over the years, Bradshaw said: “So we are seeing a number of our buildings, and in some cases historic buildings and level of architecture being loss along the way.”
The St Michael South East MP pointed out that a number of buildings in and around the Pine area have fallen “into a state of disrepair”, adding that if they were not refurbished or transformed into housing the market value could depreciate further or their condition could deteriorate further, rendering them uninhabitable.
But Griffith gave Bradshaw the assurance that his ministry was “actively involved in doing an audit of buildings”.
He said the audit was being done “to ensure that we can have a listing of all those buildings that can be utilized at a later date by entities similar to the Society, because we realized that there are lots of buildings on our books that [are] just lying idle”.
Singling out some of the idle buildings set to be audited, Griffith said there were about two of them “right adjacent the Ministry of Housing and Lands” as well as the St John Primary School.
He said: “There are several entities that are requesting buildings for a number of different activities.
“For example, MESA [Men’s Educational Support Association] and a whole group of organizations like that are looking for a home.”
With an audited list of buildings, the ministry could then know exactly what buildings could be rehabilitated by some organizations and be used “instead of just having them as eyesores across the country”, the minister for housing and lands added.