Proposals to amend the Barbados Physical Development Plan (PDP) (2003) are being evaluated and a consulting firm will be chosen shortly.

This disclosure has come from Deputy Chief Town Planner, George Browne, who said a steering committee is in the process of evaluating the technical and financial proposals.

Mr. Browne explained that work on the plan would start after the Memorandum of Understanding is signed between the Government of Barbados and the successful consulting firm.

The background research and preparation of the amendment should be completed in 10 months to a year. However, he pointed out that a series of processes must be carried out by the consultants during the preparation of the plan.

???On completion of the amended plan, the document will be referred to the Minister responsible for Town Planning, who is required by law to appoint a Commissioner under the Commissions of Enquiry Act, to hold on the Minister???s behalf a public enquiry into the objection or representation by any person or body regarding any proposals for the amendment of the plan. These representations or objections must be made to the Minister in writing within a prescribed time frame,??? he explained.

The steering committee will work in close tandem with the consultants to guide the process. He noted that the consultants would have to meet with the Chief Town Planner and the steering committee to make sure that the inception report and work plan meet the requirements of the Town and Country Development Planning Office.

???They must also have discussions with various ministry officials so they can hear about the policies those agencies are carrying out; hold town hall meetings to ensure the public is given an opportunity to air their views and concerns; as well as make the necessary recommendations to be incorporated into the plan,??? he stated.

Prior to the town hall meetings, the public will be given an adequate opportunity to review any proposals.??Mr. Browne is urging the public to attend and participate in those town hall meetings when they are announced.

???We would want to encourage the public to come out to the various sessions and make their contributions. Don???t wait until the plan comes into effect, realise it has brought about some changes to the community and then complain that it has been foisted on you,??? he stressed.

The Physical Development Plan sets out the broad land use and settlement policy and the vision for the future growth and development of the island through the provision of strategic policies, grounded within a framework of sustainable development.

The PDP contains a number of policies which address issues related to Growth Management and Agricultural Preservation, Housing, Social and Community Facilities, Cultural Heritage, Environment and Economic Development, Tourism and Recreation, Transport and Resource Extraction.

Mr. Browne disclosed that the consultants would have to examine a number of policies relating to tourism development, agriculture, transport and population growth, to name a few, and prepare sectoral background reports which would be integrated into the Physical Development Plan.

???There will be consistency with respect to the Physical Development Plan, so it will be necessary to review those documents and the consultant meet with any of the relevant stakeholders,??? he stated.

The first PDP was prepared in 1970 and came into operation in 1976, while an amendment was done in 1986 and that plan came into effect in 1991. It was further amended in 2003, operationalised in 2008, and expired in 2013.

The Deputy Chief Town Planner underscored the importance of the PDP. ???Planning is dynamic, and a country needs development in order to progress. So, there is a need to guide and harness this development to ensure it is carried out in an orderly manner, and this can only be achieved through the formulation of policies for the various sectors.

???You need to identify where tourism development can be carried out; similarly for agriculture and resource mining, etc. So, there is need to put in place guidelines and policies to ensure that this development is carried out, it is sustainable and not injurious to the environment. So, there is a need to have planned development,??? he suggested.

He added that the policies within the PDP inform decision-makers so no harm is done to the environment, while at the same time facilitating development. ??Mr. Browne??continued: ???The strategies in the PDP have remained relatively valid and most of the developments were carried out in accordance with them.

“However, the PDP did not envisage the level of residential development that occurred in the St. Philip and Christ Church corridor, and as a result of that, a decision was made to have a community plan for that area to help steer that development.

???During the past five to six years, the Chief Town Planner received in excess of 16 applications to change the land use of a significant amount of agricultural land for residential development in the community plan area. Rather than having a piecemeal approach to development, this community plan would assist in guiding the decisions.???

Mr. Browne disclosed that the consultants had submitted the various reports and the community plan should be completed shortly. ???Those reports were reviewed by the steering committee and feedback was given to the consultants, so they are now at the stage where they are making the necessary amendments to submit the final draft of that plan,??? he explained.

So, as the plan to guide the development of human settlements and evaluate the quality and appropriateness of growth for the island is prepared, citizens of Barbados are being encouraged to ensure their voices??are heard and share their views when called upon to do so.

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