City challenge

Low population affecting Bridgetown

Barbados’ urban corridor is suffering from a decline in population, Senior Town Planner at the Town & Country Development Planning Office Rudy Headley has suggested.

Addressing a World Town Planning Day symposium at the Courtyard by Marriott under the theme Spatial Planning – Improving the Nation’s Health and Wellness, Headley said that over the years, people have moved to other areas, leaving the urban corridor of the island far less populated that it should be ideally.

Rudy Headley
Rudy Headley

That urban corridor stretches from St Lucy in the north and along the west of the island, to St Philip in the south, and was designated for “intense development”, Headley explained.

“Ideally, that is where we would like to put our development, or at least most of it,” he said.

However, that has not been happening.

“Greater Bridgetown, and definitely central Bridgetown, has actually not really been increasing in population like some other areas outside of the urban corridor. And if we are not careful, and it is already happening, where you are beginning to have . . . urban sprawl,” Headley said.

“Central Bridgetown is a small area but over time it has lost a lot of population. These are things that we are going to do as we amend the physical development plan, that we can discuss in various community meetings.”

The population density in the greater Bridgetown area is approximately 26 persons per hectare; in the central Bridgetown area, 12 persons per hectare; and about 16 persons per hectare along the urban corridor.

However, Headley noted that at least one study had shown that “cities actually need to have a density in population of approximately between 35 and 40 persons per hectare to be really vibrant”.

“So that might very well be one of the challenges that our current Bridgetown is having, in that it needs a larger population,” he concluded.

Five decades ago, the situation was far different. In the 1960s, the greater Bridgetown area had a population of almost 100,000, with a population density of 66 persons per hectare. In the 1970s, the population density fell to 45 persons per hectare; by the 1980s it dipped to 36 persons per hectare; and in 2004, it stood at 33 persons per hectare.

With people moving away, the number of vacant lots has increased. Headley said there were about 20,000 vacant lots in the greater Bridgetown area up to six years ago.

“So we are looking at a vacancy rate of just over 17 per cent and that is a bit high. That presents a new challenge in terms of what are we going to do with all these vacant houses that are across the island, a lot of them being in the greater Bridgetown area,” he said.

“Clearly, some type of initiative is needed to address the reuse of these properties. If they are not occupied, they fall into a state of disrepair and then you have issues then in terms of impact on health, so that can have a negative impact on health in terms of [vector-borne] diseases and others.”

Meantime, Headley gave the assurance that the new draft physical development plan, which should be ready by the end of January 2017, would give consideration to the health of the population, people with physical challenges, and the elderly.

He also pointed out that issues such as water scarcity; inadequate road networks and supporting infrastructure; and lack of bicycle lanes, footpaths and parking spaces, needed to be addressed.

11 Responses to City challenge

  1. Nicole Clarke
    Nicole Clarke November 12, 2016 at 10:11 am

    The same people making these reports dont want to live in a urban area neither.

  2. Alex Alleyne November 12, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Back in the day , people in the City were “pack in like sardines”. Most people moved out of the city due to land space in order to expand.
    Look at Green Field, Chapman Layne, New Orleans, Nelson Street, Church village.

  3. Coralita November 12, 2016 at 11:07 am

    I would never give up living in the country getting fresh breeze everyday to live in the nasty congested rural areas. I live living in areas where my neighbours can’t hear what is going on in my house.

    • Phil November 12, 2016 at 11:31 am

      But you will travel to NYC, and stay in a clustered apartment, breathing in all that polluted smog air, and come back to Barbados and boast about it. You neighbours can’t hear what’s going on in your house but believe me, they know everything. Oh, I have experienced pollution conditions in Beijing, London, NYC, Taiwan. Hong Kong and many cities in India. So there, tell me about it. I know one thing for sure. If a person in Villages at Coverley farts even residents in neighbouring communities can hear, smell and more often tell the age of the breadfruit they ate.

      • Coralita November 12, 2016 at 1:07 pm

        You can’t be talking to me, you don’t know me.

        Hell you don’t know who you are talking to!!! You think I am one of those stupid bajans who go to the USA and live in basements and come back here showing off in front of people who living in 2 and 3 bedrooms houses and with a fake American accent to boot? If any of the people who really know me read you comment they would fall down laughing because they would know your comments simply does not apply to me.

        Man you really don’t know who you are talking to. For your information, I don’t care what the neighbours know either. I happen to be one of those individuals who live my live to suit me and I stay out of people’s business. If they want to consume themselves with my business, suits them, this chick aint got time for them though.

        You need to stop making judgement calls on people because of something they blog

        • Phil November 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm

          Thank goodness you’re not one of those. I was not referring to you though, I was just generalizing based on your comment. I recalled a number of years ago a bajan guy was scared to let me drive his Ford Capri a few hundred yards up the Gap. As it turned out, we bumped into each other at JFK and his people did not turn up tp collect him. I drove him to his address In Brooklyn before heading to queens. This was his first overseas trip and man he could not stop apologizing. So there no problem . He now lives in Surrey UK.

  4. Hal Austin November 12, 2016 at 11:59 am

    This is a bit late. Regeneration of the City should have been a government priority since 2008 – in fact during the 14 yrs of Arthur rule.

  5. Loretta Griffith November 12, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Coralita, you meant Urban and not Rural areas. Typographical slip up, I suppose.
    I concur with you on your other sentiments.

    • Coralita November 12, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks Loretta, that was a slip up.

  6. Brewster November 12, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Maybe if they address the issue of keeping the city clean and show zero tollerance to loitering and touting for prostitutes the place could be more inviting. Maintenance on the heritage buildings and decent lighting and a government run shelter for the homeless just might help it to be a desirable place to live.

  7. Alex Alleyne November 12, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    I know of persons who lived in “Basements” in North America . Not because they had to, but with a PLAN. In the end they returned to BIM and now live in St. Philip in MANSIONS done paid for , plus with some dollars in the bank.
    One don’t have to go to NYC to see such poor standard of housing/living, Just look at the corner of Roebuck Street and Country Road.


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