Empire Theatre Building.Source: Flickr

Two government-owned buildings, namely Culloden Farm and the Empire Theatre Building, will be restored as part of a package of assistance from the Chinese government.

This was revealed yesterday by Prime Minister David Thompson, as he delivered an address at the annual general meeting of the Barbados National Trust (BNT) at its Wildey Great House headquarters.

Recently, the BNT had indicated to the current administration that successive governments had failed to refurbish and put to good use several important listed buildings, including The Eyrie, Queen’s Park House and Carnegie Library. 

“The Carnegie Building will be looked at as part of the overall development of the Supreme Court Complex. I have asked the Chief Justice for a date on which that Complex will be vacated and the government, under a Cabinet Committee, will determine the next steps,” Mr. Thompson said.

In addition, the Prime Minister recommended that the BNT use his official residence, Ilaro Court, more effectively as a place of architectural and historical significance. “Please work with the Board of Tourism to take up my invitation to use my official residence. It will help you, it will expose our young people – which is of vital importance – and it will give our visitors another unforgettable experience,” he observed.

Mr. Thompson also addressed a concern expressed by the Trust that there was a need to complete the last pieces of legislation to implement the Physical Development Plan Amended in 2003. He explained that Technical Assistance had been sought from the Inter American Development Bank (IADB) regarding the Town and Country Planning Department and the need for institutional strengthening.

“New legislation will be part of that exercise. I have revived the Town Planning Advisory Council under the Chairmanship of Mr. David Lashley, and I suggest you put your concerns to that Council for review,” he advised.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that even though the Physical Development Plan Amended in 2003 was based on maintaining Central Bridgetown as the nation’s primary location for financial institutions, offices, shopping and other commercial activities, there was general agreement that more and more services would be decentralised.

“All are agreed that this should be done in a sustainable way. We therefore await the findings of the National Consultation on Constituency Councils to make a determination on the extent of decentralisation that will take place,” he added.

Some of the other issues raised by the BNT which were addressed by Mr. Thompson, included greater penalties for the demolition of listed buildings; completing the legislation required to acquire United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage designation for Bridgetown and the Garrison; and expansion and updating of the Town and Country Planning Department’s list of buildings of historic and architectural importance. 

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