St. Patrick’s Town Hall Meeting (St. David’s to St. Patricks): Barbadians Speak out

“chairperson and consultant Dr. Yolanda Alleyne tried her best to steer attendees to give feedback during a Q&A session under three  categories”:

“…chairperson and consultant Dr. Yolanda Alleyne tried her best to steer attendees to give feedback during a Q&A session under three  categories…”

It has become evident of late more Barbadians are beginning to wake up to the possibility of Barbados sinking under the weight of concrete. The  unplanned development allowed in Barbados under the eye of the Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart  – who has responsibility for Town Planning – is an abomination to right thinking Bajans.  History may record that the Lower Greys development maybe the catalyst that forced otherwise uncaring Barbadians to wake up and take back what is left of our little island from the greedy and the rich.

Government must be commended for commissioning a land use plan for the large swath of land from St. David’s to St. Patricks.  It is a part of Barbados which remains in a relatively pristine condition and future development should be informed by mistakes made of the last 20 years. The idea that land on a 21×14 island must be sold to fetch its highest economic cost betrays the national cry ‘these hills and fields beyond recall. Are now our very own’  in a country which does not have alien land holding laws.

It has taken too long for Barbadians to come to the realization that we need to change course regarding how limited land resources must be employed. The feedback given at a meeting held this week at the St. Patrick’s Hall was a clear signal to government current policy must change or expect a revolt. The chairperson and consultant Dr. Yolanda Alleyne tried her best to steer attendees to give feedback during a Q&A session under three  categories:

What do you like. What you do not like and what you would like to see change. The majority of residents and others who spoke used the opportunity to send a message that agriculture must be at the core of development in the area. Although Dr. Frank Alleyne who is a consultant on the project gave his assurance that arable land will not be used for housing, he is not the Chief Planner and therefore his assurance although well-meaning must be taken as moot. It is unfortunate Chief Town Planner Cummins did not see it fit to assure attendees  that the several hundred applications to develop land in the area under planning consideration will be held in abeyance until the consultant’s plan takes form in October.

If the temperature is to be measured from the town hall at St. Patricks this week, Bajans are ready to stand up to save what little is left of our agricultural land but it maybe too late. We wait for the second town hall meeting in October when details of the plan will be made public.

37 thoughts on “St. Patrick’s Town Hall Meeting (St. David’s to St. Patricks): Barbadians Speak out

  1. Pingback: St. Patrick’s Town Hall Meeting (St. David’s to St. Patricks): Barbadians Speak out | Black In Barbados

  2. Barbados imports $800 million a year in food.

    If arable land continues to be sold for housing development it stands to reason that the food bill will continue to increase.

    I will leave it to the BU geniuses to figure out what will happen eventually.

  3. @ David

    My understanding is that the decision on change of use of agricultural land over 2 acres and all beach front development is out of the hands of the Chief Town Planner (CTP) and decided by the Minister responsible for Town Planning. So a lot of what you call unplanned development may be outside of his control.

    My understanding is that regrettably at the meeting some speakers accused the CTP of giving permission for what I believe you called the Lower Greys development. That’s way over 2 acres so you know who gave permission for that.

    • @Nostradamus

      It will be interesting to observe how many applications to develop the land under discussion is approved between now and October.

  4. Mark Cummins ain’t no fool so you have to ask yourself which fool consented to this deal.Its the idiot that is over Mark Cummins.

  5. Planning is a political process, not one for technocrats.
    Having said that, we need a national land use strategy; we cannot continue to make planning decisions based on a case by case basis.
    Agricultural land should be untouchable, so should land for recreational use. We must make better use of our brownfield sites, with properly architectural designed homes, using natural light to cut back on energy use, sizes and materials.
    We must think in terms of going up, building more high rise accommodations for single people and childless couples, especially for young professionals and married people.
    We need to look sewriously at building two new towns: Six Roads/Four Roads, in the East/South East, and Boscobel in the North.
    Big government departments should move to these new towns, re-directing traffic out of a congested Bridgetown, and private businesses should be incentivised for doing so.
    This can be done without the building of necessary and uneconomic and inefficient use of land.
    There is need for a national debate and the sooner the better.

  6. @ David
    I don’t believe that any applications to develop agricultural land in the Community Plan area will be approved between now and October because that would defeat the purpose of carrying out this study. If any approvals are given I would think it would be by the Minister responsible for Town Planning for the reasons I already stated.

  7. @ Hal Austin
    “Planning is a political process, not one for technocrats.”
    Really? I thought quite the opposite and that planning was for the technocrats and decisions that were contrary to the plan subject to political considerations.

    @Hal Austin
    “…….we need a national land use strategy”

    I keep hearing this repeated by several commentators but Isn’t that the purpose of the Physical Development Plan?

    The following is taken form the Introduction to the Plan
    “This document constitutes the Physical Development Plan Amended 2003, for Barbados. It is intended to provide a vision for the future growth and development of the nation by setting out policies to guide relationships among land uses, community facilities and physical infrastructure. It is also intended to coordinate public and private development initiatives in Barbados to the year 2010 within a framework of sustainable development.”

  8. @ Nostradamus

    The application of the policy is for the technocrat, but the decision-making process is one for elected politicians, principally because of the controversial nature of planning decisions. The politicians is accountable in a way a civil servant is not.
    As to a national land use policy, the reality is that the change of use from agricultural to residential (ie recently in St George, now being debated in St Philip) is too flexible.
    A proper land use policy will state in law, that unless there is a national security issue, all agricultural land MUST remain agricultural. If not what is the purpose of a strategic policy? At the end of the day we have just over 100000 acres of land to play with and cannot allow its development to depend on box-ticking application forms.


  9. David wrote “The key point to note is continuing to build on arable land and NOT rab land.”

    David there is no reason why food cannot be produced on “rab land”.
    This is 2014 not 1914.

    The “rab land” in Barbados includes fertile land that was taken out of production to facilitate change of use to build housing.

    You need arable land to grow cane, yams potatoes and fruit trees.

    Hydroponic,Aquaponic and Green house farming can be done on rab land or in the parking lot in Independence square.

    @ Hal Austin wrote,
    “Planning is a political process, not one for technocrats.”

    So based on your constant and relentless criticism of the present DLP government, we would have to wait for a competent BLP government in 2018 to create a viable land use policy.

    At least Owen would not be able to enforce his mantra of “land for its best use (sell for development).

  10. @Nostradamus
    Thanks!! I have been repeating that (your reference to there being a NPDP) ad infinitum here on BU.

    @David & Hants
    What does putting land to its best/economic use means? And what did Owen mean with his comment? As far as I know, that is a goal of land use planning.

  11. David, April 3, 2014 at 5:03 PM:

    “There are social and cultural considerations.”

    What are they?

  12. Hants | April 2, 2014 at 7:39 PM |

    Barbados imports $800 million a year in food.

    Now that is why politicians should never be believed or trusted, Estwick has been stating for months that Barbados produces 65% of it’s food, so okay, why then does 35% of the imported food bill costs the taxpayers $800 million dollars a year, is it me or someone cannot count or some bodies are freaking stealing?

  13. But social and cultural issues include housing and social infrastructure also, which themselves ought to be situated on the most suitable ie the “best” sites recognising the social, economic, environmental and cultural concerns. The issue is far more complex than is being articulated, it is not simply about “food security” but being able to balance the land requirements for the many competing sectors. After all, like I have said before, many of the gardens, heights and terraces were also once our “best” agri lands. Let me make it clear however that I am not advocating changing agri land nilly willy.

    • @enuff

      Agree that it is not only about food security but the reaction by Bajans and those at the meeting is a reaction to shabby planning to date and the lack of focus on agriculture.


    Sunshine Sunny Shine | April 3, 2014 at 1:37 AM | Mark Cummins is a crook as said before ,
    UDC id Fraud as said before , No matter how you repackage crooks liars and scumbags its the same she-it,
    You will never get the truth from Liars.
    Same people in charge of the fraud , Must we make list of names, ?
    Before if was Owen and MIA with Mark Cummins now its This Fumble Stew PM and March Cummins , you can not build a nation by selling of and building on farm land.
    Soon we wlll have to have the crook AG to move grave yard in to planting , for it may be the most fertile lands for growing ,


    Hants | April 2, 2014 at 7:39 PM@

    Bajans will move to Guyana for food and they will remember how they were treated .At the time they were helping over pave Barbados at a cheap and record pace .

  16. really finally! i have been talking about this subject for years . and now
    it is being seen that barbados has been sold by crooks to the highest bidder .evil or not.
    any way dont listen to me listen to this——-

  17. If agriculture was profitable Bajans couldn’t buy land at any price for any use. In the 1950s and 60s rocky rab land in St. John was blasted with dynamite and filled with dung to create a few more cane holes. BU readers keep faffing on about symptoms and fail to address the problems. Until sugar cane agriculture is subsidised by the taxpayer we will not have a viable agriculture industry, sustainable employment or food security.

    • @Frustrated Businessman

      Wasn’t your point made by Gill and Armstrong at the town hall? Sugar Cane is needed to protect fertility through rotation of crops. The point was made that by not planting canes at Artag Farming it resulted in a poor sweet potato harvest this time around.

  18. Gill and Armstrong are actually farmers. They understand the need for crop rotation, nitrogen fixing etc. The majority if not all of the applications for change of use of the large areas of agricultural land in the Plan area are by land speculators. People who have bought plantations and agricultural land not with with the intention of working it but with the intention of gaining the windfall that comes with the change of use.

    They only thing they seem to be able to grow and produce is cow itch and rats which they allow to grow and torment the people living nearby so that eventually the long suffering residents are just relieved when the land is approved for development and all vegetation removed.

    Shouldn’t there be a law against allowing cow itch to grow on your land?

  19. Frustrated Businessman wrote “Sugar Cane is needed to protect fertility through rotation of crops.”

    For over 30 years father farmed vegetables on about 15 acres of land without growing Sugar Cane.

    There must be viable alternativeS to growing Sugar Cane.Putting all your “Canes” in one basket is ludicrous.
    Maybe we should have explored growing more coconuts and produce Sugar and virgin coconut oil but the Jamaicans are off and running.

  20. Hants, Bajans have subsidised their income with kitchen gardens for hundreds of years and so do I. No disrespect to your dad but that is not the scale of agriculture that we need, it is labour, fertilizer and water intensive and mostly unprofitable. As a very good friend of mine who runs a large kitchen garden once said “we don’t have any money but we eat like kings”.

    Without the grass we call sugar cane there can be no other large-scale agriculture in Bim.

  21. Frustrated Businessman wrote “No disrespect to your dad but that is not the scale of agriculture that we need,”
    Doesn’t matter. He is dead so disrespect all yuh want.

    15 acres is indeed a large kitchen garden but 10 large kitchen gardens operated by 10 owners is better than a plantation owned by shadows.

    There is nothing stopping major investment in Agriculture by the wealthy Bajans especially those who were raised in Plantation great houses and already have the expertise but we also need a lot of large kitchen gardens.

    I still want to know if Sugar Cane is the only crop that can protect fertility through rotation of crops..

    Frustrated Businessman | April 4, 2014 at 6:57 AM | wrote “Until sugar cane agriculture is subsidised by the taxpayer we will not have a viable agriculture industry, sustainable employment or food security.

    And we wasted tax payers money on Education when we coulda give fellas like GP a hoe, Bushie a cutlass and give Islandgal a basket, pay dem like the haitians workers in the Dominican Republic and we would have had a viable Sugar Industry.
    Uh wunda how I wudda look wid a white cork hat.

    Seriously any large scale ( SUBSIDISED BY TAXPAYERS ) Agriculture in Barbados should be on a cooperative basis where all participants are shareholders.

  22. ‘Seriously any large scale ( SUBSIDISED BY TAXPAYERS ) Agriculture in Barbados should be on a cooperative basis where all participants are shareholders.’

    We have that already, it is called BADMC and is owned by tax-payers. They produce 40% of the cane in Bim and are paid any amount of money they want in order to do it; just like the Transport Board is paid any amount of money they want to transport people while minibus operators function under real-world conditions. We already subsidise sugar through BADMC, just not the 60% of private growers.

    Meanwhile, the crooks in gov’t have hatched a plan to build a 300 million dollar sugar factory for cane that does not exist. Not only does the cane not exist but they have not even asked the 60% private growers if they want a new factory nor made any promises as to what they will be paid for their cane when the new factory is built; as we speak cane is being ploughed out of St. Philip and grass being planted.

    This country is suffering a management vacuum that is incomprehensible to the average voter.

  23. @ David
    Does the change at LG means we are worse off in terms of the required acreage and quality of land needed for agriculture? Now if the answer to that is yes then it was a shabby decision, but that we don’t know. It would be interesting to know the location of the much touted rab lands in relation to accessibility and available infrastructure.

    • @enuff

      The problem as you well know is greed, The ability of those with money and influence to manipulate the system to get their bidding. It is easier and more profitable to develop 30 acres of fertile land one time than four or five different pieces of rab land attached to said fertile lands.

  24. David I don’t want to waste the time of the BU intelligensia with a lengthy submission but if I said it before I will say it again.

    If there is a serious shortage of fruit and vegetables do you think Barbados can out bid Canada and the USA

    The mainstream supermarkets in Toronto are importing fruit and vegetables from Jamaica and almost every country in South America including Belize.
    (purple sweet potatoes)
    Even belly pumpkin is branded “Jamaican pumpkin”.

    I can’t think of a single fruit or vegetable that is not available all year in Toronto.

  25. @David

    Agreed, but is greed, manipulation etc the sole problem? The lack of evidence-based decision making hence policy formulation is going to kill us.

    • @enuff

      Not as versed in these matters as you are but yes it appears to be multifaceted with greed leading the way.

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