Not up to scratch

City development applications clashing with historic look

The Town Planning Department has turned down some applications for development within Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison because it threatens the value of the World Heritage property.

Chief Town Planner and chair of the Barbados World Heritage Committee, Mark Cummins, made that disclosure yesterday after the opening of a joint meeting of the World Heritage Committees for Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison and the Historic Area Of Willemstad, Curacao, at the Barbados Museum.

The Garrison
The Garrison

“We have found that some of the contemporary submissions which are being made now . . . are having significant clashes with the existing architecture,” he said.

“This obviously then delays the process because we have to go back to the applicants and ask them to redesign their proposals . . . . We have to say no to some of the submissions made because the design is not in keeping with what is required for the preservation of the outstanding universal value [of the UNESCO property].”

Stressing that they were not being asked to design old buildings, Cummins continued: “What we are asking them to do is to pay attention to some of the features that are there on the old buildings and then blend them into your new design. A very good example of a blend of old architecture with contemporary architecture is if you juxtapose the West Wing of Parliament with the Royal Bank . . . . That’s the type of thing that we are looking at. We would not expect that . . . along Swan Street, where we have the traditional buildings, that we would then see a design that is all glass and modern and bears no relation to what is there.”

Cummins noted that the majority of the design professionals were aware of what was required of them, but suggested that they needed to familiarise themselves with the Physical Development Plan, the Management Plan For Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison and the World Heritage Convention.

He added that his office would have to host more seminars and workshops so they could work with those professionals and bring those of them who required it up to the standard where they would be a smooth transition.

Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison became a UNESCO Property in 2011. Cummins acknowledged that there were teething problems but the Barbados World Heritage Committee was able to surmount them and gather experience in the process.

He said business owners in Bridgetown have recognised the importance of the inscription and he would like to see them maximise the marketing of this property. Giving the background to the visit of the delegation from Curacao, the Chief Town Planner explained that when Willemstad was inscribed on the World Heritage List there was no requirement for the production of a management plan, but that had now changed.

“A management plan is a very fundamental tool in terms of ensuring the outstanding universal value of the site is preserved. So, what we will also do during this exchange is to take them through some of the paces that assisted us in the preparation of our Management Plan,” he said.


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