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Land lease worry


Some people leasing Government land are earning revenue by subletting the property to other individuals, a practice Minister of Housing and Lands Michael Lashley is out to stop.

The St. Philip North MP complained about the problem this morning as he piloted debate on a Parliamentary resolution where a section of state land at Lower Collymore Rock, St. Michael, including a building, is being leased for use by the Chronic Disease Research Centre.

Lashley said while the current administration was open to proposals from individuals and organisations for the use of government lands, his ministry would have to formulate a “monitoring mechanism” to ensure people leasing state property, especially beachfront land, were not abusing the arrangements for their benefit.

“…Prime government land, particularly lands at Bath, lands at Dover beach, lands at Worthing, what we have recognised, … and I believe we are now looking at a monitoring mechanism, … is that over time persons who have entered into leases with some of these beachfront lands they have actually gone into some sub-leasing without informing the Ministry of Housing and Lands,” the minister told the House of Assembly.

“And some persons have gone ahead and built structures illegally and have not followed Town Planning and followed the other regulatory bodies in relation to the construction of buildings on these lands.

“And as a result, instead of the Ministry of Housing and Lands benefiting, other persons (are) benefiting from prime beachfront lands. I believe that we will have to take a position in the Ministry of Housing and Lands and … look at reviewing the rents for these lands to make sure that the government receives full benefits from these arrangements,” he added.

Lashley said officials would now have to be “very cautious” and assign “either officers on the ground, or that we make sure that the mechanism is so tightly placed that the interest of the Crown is protected”.

These problems notwithstanding, the official made it clear Government would continue to pursue lease arrangements with the public.

“The Ministry of Housing and Lands we are open to any proposals where there is vacant Crown land. Once that proposal is in accordance with the policy of the government we are willing to enter any relationship with bodies or members of the public and civil society,” he stated.

“…Where there is vacant Crown land and they believe that they have a proposal that could redound to the benefit of the country, to their community, to their business, whatever, … we are open to that.”

The land at Collymore Rock being leased to the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus will run co-terminus with the existing University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus lease, meaning they would expire at the same time on August 4, 2065.

The initial rent was at a rate of $1,000 per annum payable in advance, an arrangement which “shall be subject to review every five years”. (SC)

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