Persons in World Heritage Site Told to Work with Government

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Stephen Lashley, Minister of Culture, addressing??property owners in the Historic Bridgetown and Garrison area. (A.Miller/BGIS)??

Owners of properties within Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison have been urged by Government to maximise the area’s economic potential.

This plea came today from Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, after Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s breakfast meeting at Hilton Barbados for owners of properties in the UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.

Mr. Lashley told the Barbados Government Information Service: "We want to appeal again to owners of properties and residents in the area to join with us. Our purpose is not to intrude in any way. We want to see this as a win-win situation where now we have a world famous property and we want to take advantage of the potential for utilising it, not only for business creation, but generally, for diversifying business.

"This inscription could be used for diversifying business within the City, where more could be done by store owners to stretch the economic value of their properties," he suggested.

The Minister said the meeting, which was addressed by Prime Minister Stuart, as well as Chairman of the Barbados World Heritage Committee, Mark Cummins, and Historian Professor Pedro Welch, went "extremely well" and he was "very pleased".

According to him, the discussions were part of Government’s outreach to that community. "As a result of suggestions in the public domain that the owners are totally restricted from making any changes to their property, we sought to allay any fears and clarify the procedure that one has to go through.

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Property??owners living in the Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison areas listen intently, today, at a breakfast discussion,??at the Hilton Hotel. (A.Miller/BGIS)??

"As Mr. Cummins explained, the intention is not to deprive persons of their rights to develop [their properties], but to ensure the guidelines are followed… We are willing to work with property owners to ensure the … buildings can be renovated and restored, but not to the detriment of the kind of heritage value that they have," he stated.

Mr. Lashley noted that one of the challenges facing Bridgetown was the movement of some businesses away from the area and he expressed the view that the inscription "offers an opportunity for businesses to create the kind of attractions" needed to bring business and people back to the City.

He stressed that Barbadians were seriously interested in heritage, as was reflected in the number of persons who attended the National Cultural Foundation’s heritage walk on Sunday night.?? "Persons want to know more about the Outstanding Universal Value of Bridgetown and its Garrison and we just have to create the opportunities for that," he declared.

Meanwhile, the Minister has encouraged those property owners who were unable to attend the breakfast meeting to contact the Permanent Secretary in the Division of Culture and Sports so information about the World Heritage Property could be shared with them.

Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison will be officially inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Property on Wednesday, June 13, at the Garrison Savannah, beginning at 4:30 p.m. and members of the public are invited to attend.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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