WHAT is the most picturesque and most photographed part of Castries? I will make a guess and say it’s lower Brazil Street with its old-styled architecture. I am talking about that area where Rain Restaurant used to be, on the southern side of Derek Walcott Square. I may be dead wrong but it introduces the subject that I want to deal with in this article. In those parts, there’s a theme; there is form and there is uniformity. There is history.
Last night I watched the movie “Water” which was filmed here some decades ago with Soufriere as the main backdrop. I guess Soufriere was chosen because there was some integrity to the setting. But there is no structured plan for development of anywhere and Soufriere and St Lucia and slowly losing their charm. And where there is the semblance of a developmental plan, The Piton Management Area, it is being trampled upon. Our heritage is being lost and no one gives a damn.
Remember the hassle they gave “Jah I wianba piton-a”. If we know your history, and if we know where we’re coming from then we will know where we’re going. But in Saint Lucia we are lost. We’re floating, suspended in a black hole and the authorities like it so. In fact, I am told the “system” designed it to be so. No one wants to take on the establishment. So they can sell our indigenous land and displace our people with their customs and tradition, with the proposed Sunset Bay Resort but no one gives a hoot. But that is not what this article is about.
I have written on the haphazard development in the city, the monstrosity of a plaza built in Soufriere and the fact that there are no managed plans for the development of the village of Canaries. The Ministry of Planning and Development has done us a disservice. The DCA approves anything. But we do not have to look far for a model in touristic infrastructural development. Look to Grenada. We do not have to look far for a model in the preservation of our historical buildings. Look to Barbados.
Are there any structures of significant character or special historic or aesthetic interest or value that form part of our development heritage, or cultural characteristics of our city, town, villages and nation? Such structures must have special status and must be made worthy of preservation and should be protected from inappropriate alteration. I am sure that the authorities are aware of these buildings, given comments that were made after the recent fire that damaged a large block of buildings in Soufriere but there is nothing of significance in our law books to conserve them.
In most jurisdictions planning laws provide for the identification and designation of historic properties and districts and for implementing review procedures and design guidelines. In Barbados, the Town and Country Planning Act Cap. 240 at section 29 makes provision for a list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest and Section 28 of the same Act makes provision for building preservation orders. http://www.townplanning.gov.bb/content.aspx?c=54.
Let us pray that our ministry can get to this stage and provide the necessary incentive to make it happen.