April 18, 2008
In accordance with the Nevis Physical Development Planning Ordinance 2005, the Physical Planning Unit in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) held a Stakeholders Consultation on April 10, 2008, at the Mount Nevis Hotel, to embark on the process of developing physical development plans for specific areas on Nevis.
The Organization of American States (OAS) Director to St Kitts and Nevis Mr. Starret D. Greene, who spoke at the consultation, confirmed that the OAS through its Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI) approved the Nevis Physical Development Plan, with funding from its Special Multilateral Fund for technical cooperation.
He further added that through the project, the goal of the OAS was to further strengthen its partnership with the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and to provide help to Nevis for the development of a comprehensive system of land usage.
“Moreover, the OAS recognised that land was a premium on the island of Nevis, given the island’s relatively small size and it was essential to develop a legal, administrative and managerial system that would ensure an orderly long-range development plan to guide every aspect of the island’s physical development,” he said.
Mr. Greene revealed that plans for Charlestown and Newcastle would be executed initially and the full cooperation of the NIA, had given rise to a number of important initiatives that produced an island wide plan.
He further noted that the Department considered a number of critical issues such as the historical plan for certain areas on the island, relationship with the community; surrounding land usage; existing landscape and open spaces; circulation and transportation and existing environmental resources which included a long term development plan for agriculture, tourism development, commercial and residential development, national parks and recreational areas and lands to be used by current and future generations.
The OAS Director said it pleased the organisation that the NIA had given the public the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights to shape and formulate public policy, on an issue that was paramount to the economic, social, cultural and sustainable development on Nevis.
“One of the most important components of the Nevis Physical Development Plan project is the public consultation. The input of the public and all the various Stakeholders has been crucial to the success of the plan up to this stage.
“The legislation that has been developed and the up-grading of the zoning plan have all been done with the input and support of the Stakeholders. Every citizen of Nevis has a stake in this plan and it is therefore right that there is a collection of voices and the contending of opinions on how the plan should be structured.” he said.
He also said discussion should continue with regards to specific areas that were off bounds for development and further stated it was in the island’s long term interest that arrangements were made for residential development and lands specific for the expansion and development of agriculture for the sustainable and orderly development of Nevis.
He underscored the point that land usage in the Federation demanded extraordinary competition with the development of new and alternative sources of energy, which required substantial land usage and added that the increased demand for land should therefore help to guide the NIA’s decisions to ensure the island’s most valuable, productive and sustainable purpose.
Mr. Greene commended officials in the NIA for their vision and for submitting the project for consideration by the OAS.
Meantime, Permanent Secretary for the Department of Physical Planning, Natural, Resources and the Environment Mr. Ernie Stapleton in an interview with the Department of Information, said what was discussed at the public consultation would be [documented] for later review by the NIA. The plan which would guide development on Nevis would then be presented in the Nevis Island Assembly.
Mr. Stapleton disclosed that Mr. Geoffrey Webber of Hyder Consulting from Wales, United Kingdom (UK) as the Consultant for the project.
“The final Plan was not totally their [consultant] product. They receive input from us [Department of Planning] who would approve certain things and indicate to them what we would like in the plan but they have been the driving force behind the coordinating activity with regards to the development of the plan.
“They have the experience; the environmentalist, the urban planner, the economist who from their expert point of view contributed to the plan’s development,” Mr. Stapleton said.
The New Physical Planning and Development Control Ordinance which became operative in March 2006 required that a Physical Development Plan for Nevis was prepared. The Island plan is an important document which provided a vision for the future of Nevis, the foundation for sustainable development and land use policies for the next 15 years and beyond.
The Nevis Island Administration is of the view that the future is likely to require a number of important and difficult decisions but with a strong land use policy document, it will greatly assist the decision making process.
However, it must be appreciated that having a planning framework was only the start and that much work needed to be done to implement the policies and to make Nevis an even better place in which to live and work.