Thursday 6 August, 2020

Government seeking to compulsorily acquire land at White Hill

FILE - Minister of Housing and Lands, Denis Kellman.

FILE - Minister of Housing and Lands, Denis Kellman.

The Ministry of Housing Lands this evening issued a statement via the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) outlining its efforts to accommodate residents of White Hill, St. Andrew, who have been affected by land slippage.

It warned that experts advise against settlement in the area and anyone choosing to set up a home there will be doing so at their own risk.

Therefore, in order to prevent further development there, Government is seeking to compulsorily acquire the land from the owners.

Below is the statement in full:

White Hill, privately-owned land located in the Scotland District of St. Andrew, is naturally prone to land slippage. 

Since 1999, the Ministry of Housing and Lands has been involved in the relocation of houses from this area to Farmers, St. Thomas on lots provided by the National Housing Corporation.

In 2004, given the imminent dangers posed to lives, limbs and structures, approval was granted to relocate an additional two houses. Phase 2 of the relocations commenced in 2007 with approval for the Ministry to relocate an additional 22 houses. These houses were sited on a stretch of land that had been subject to severe ground movements which affected the structural integrity of the houses.

The relocation project is being undertaken in phases based on the availability of funds and, since the start of Phase 2, ten new houses have been built at Farmers, St. Thomas for affected White Hill residents.  

The Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, The Hon. Denis Kellman, M. P., has visited the area and has witnessed the extent of the land slippage and its negative impact on these houses. 

Plans are in train to construct five new houses during the current Financial Year and the remaining seven houses in the following Financial Year 2018-2019.  The new houses are timber, masonry or mixed material construction and range in size from 412 sq. ft. to 1,300 sq. ft. with an average lot size of 3,000 sq. ft. These replacement units are being provided free of cost while the land on which they are sited is being sold to non-land owners at $2.50 per square foot.

When replacement houses are built at Farmers, St. Thomas, the Ministry of Transport and Works and the National Housing Corporation will dismantle and remove the original houses from their locations in White Hill to prevent resettlement. 

Government officials, inclusive of the Chief Town Planner, strongly discourage any resettlement in the area.  Any person who willfully chooses to erect structures in White Hill, St. Andrew, are doing so at their own risk, and they will not be eligible for relocation by Government.

In an effort to ensure that no further development occurs on the land from which the 22 houses are being removed, the Government is proposing to acquire compulsorily the land from its owners.

To ensure that the re-siting of structures within the priority area does not recur, the Ministry has commenced the periodic monitoring of the priority area. Any new construction will be reported to the Town and Country Development Planning Office, which has the jurisdiction for development control.

During this current phase of relocations, the Ministry has maintained communication with the affected households, appropriately sensitising them about the process, keeping them up-to-date with the issues and addressing their needs. 

In addition, the Ministry is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Works and other government agencies to examine medium- and long-term solutions for the White Hill area.

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