Less than a week after Prime Minister Mia Mottley outlined plans for the development of Bridgetown, the Barbados National Trust is warning that The City is in danger of losing its UNESCO World Heritage designation.
According to president of the Barbados National Trust Peter Stevens, this is the inevitable result, based on the plans he has seen for several new developments in Bridgetown.
He told Barbados TODAY that while his organisation supports Government’s initiative to develop The City, there needs to be more imagination in the utilization of the heritage space.
“We are not going to keep our world heritage designation once we do all of this stuff. The reality is that the way we are heading we are going to lose our listing. It is true that we do not need a world heritage city, but the fact is that we’ve got it. I foresee that we are heading for serious trouble and we are going to be bandied around the world as one of the three places that would have lost their world heritage designation,” said Stevens.
During her national address last week, PM Mottley highlighted several areas in the capital city which have been earmarked for development. She revealed that the way is being cleared for other major investments there, including the Pierhead and Carlisle House Project expected to come on stream this year.
She revealed that plans for a City facelift will include the construction of the Golden Square Freedom Park and the completion of the Fairchild Street Market Village. Mottley said 100 new vending stalls will be constructed at the market.
In addition, she announced that improvements are already started at Temple Yard which has benefitted from the installation of water and electricity.
However, Stevens contends that while Government is not compelled to build around a heritage city, he is concerned that the coming developments are also not necessarily geared towards the alternative modern city.
“I do have a rough idea from some of the plans I have seen and the early planning applications for some of the structures and I am concerned that we are not looking at this from the perspective that we have a heritage city. I am also concerned that we may not even be looking at it from the perspective that we could be a modern vibrant city,” explained Stevens.
“Bridgetown could either be a city developed using the aspects of its heritage by building modern buildings around its world heritage structures. The other option would be to get a clean slate and build a fully modern city and do away with the whole world heritage designation. The problem is that we are not planning for either scenario, instead we are throwing new development at The City. I don’t see the plans for a modern city and I certainly don’t see the plans for a heritage city,” he said.
The national trust head made it clear that his organisation is not against development of Bridgetown. However, he noted that there was no consultation with the trust as it pertains to the upcoming developments.
“We are not saying that all developments are bad but what we are seeing thus far are persons allowed to come in and build without limitations. I don’t see any criterion put in place limiting how far people can go and certainly not as it relates to these historic sites. None of these designs were presented to the national trust for our input, we saw them at the same time that everybody else got to see them. We have had no time to gather our thoughts and make an input because it is all happening so fast and we have not been included,” he stressed.