From left: Chief Town Planner, Mark Cummins; Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley; and Member of Parliament for Bridgetown, Patrick Todd, at the press conference. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The inscription of Bridgetown and its Garrison to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site "does not mean that development [of the area] will not continue".

This assurance has come from Chairman of the Barbados World Heritage Committee and this island’s Chief Town Planner, Mark Cummins, who said there would be preservation and development in the area, but a balance would have to be struck.

Mr. Cummins explained that the efforts which had been made in the past to ensure development did not occur to damage the outstanding universal value would have "to be even more precise now", so as to make sure that "any development that is carried out does not create any major issues".

He told a media conference yesterday at the Grantley Adams International Airport that they would now have to make certain that nothing was done to despoil the outstanding universal value of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison. "We have to build on that and I know that we have the professional capacity within the public and private sectors and certainly, we will work assiduously with all the other agencies to ensure that what we have here in terms of our outstanding universal value will be maintained," he promised.

The chairman noted that there were 911 site inscriptions before the UNESCO World Heritage Meeting which was recently held from June 19 to 29 in Paris, France. According to him, 43 nominations were to be discussed at the meeting, but six were withdrawn at the beginning of the session and of the 22 that were discussed up to last Saturday, only seven had gotten the designation of World Heritage Sites.

"Inscription is not easy, it is a very difficult task. It is something you have to work hard for and you have to work harder to maintain. Within the next two years we will be called upon to prepare a state of conservation report and the International Council for Monuments and Sites will come down to Barbados to verify that the outstanding universal value still remains and that there is nothing that threatens that outstanding universal value…

"Outstanding universal value also relates to the buffer zone because the World Heritage Committee requires that a buffer zone has to be placed around the property, and this buffer zone is to buttress any development which can have negative impacts on the outstanding universal value of the site," he explained.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Bridgetown, Patrick Todd, described the island’s inscription as "a moment that we as a nation should be justly proud of" and he encouraged the residents of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, as well as other Barbadians to "buy in to the concept".

Mr. Todd continued: "[This] international recognition can build [our] self esteem as a people. That our heritage, our culture, what we stand for as a people is recognised by the world community as significant and, therefore, as we seek to take advantage of this designation in terms of attracting more visitors to our shores to build our industry, we must not forget the importance of cherishing the rich culture of this part of our land space for future generations to enjoy."

He also urged Barbadians to play their individual part to keep Bridgetown and its Garrison clean and "ensure we do not indiscriminately demolish these historic buildings".


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