New development order coming for Westmoreland
A development order is in the works for Jamaica's eighth-largest parish, Westmoreland, that will lay the ground for the emergence of new towns.
The Westmoreland Area Development Order, spanning the parish's 807 square kilometres was promulgated and gazetted as a provisional order in May 2018. Residents have until July 25 to object, in writing, to any of its stipulations. The document is publicly available at post offices, the municipal council, libraries and police stations.
The order includes a map of sites where other urban communities outside of capital Savanna-la-Mar can be developed. It requires that the layout of housing areas adhere to density guidelines, make adequate provision for shops, schools, churches, meeting halls, play areas, recreation centres, day care centres and roads.
Land with agricultural potential must be preserved for productive use, and also seeks to protect historical sites and buildings, and areas to be conserved because of the unique nature of flora and fauna including the wetlands of Auchindown and the Paradise property in east Savanna-la-Mar.
Dwight Williams, the manager for the Local Area Planning Branch at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), told the Financial Gleaner that the new order will replace a 40-year-old order that was promulgated in 1978.
"There has been the growing demand for land to accommodate and facilitate expansion," said Williams.
The new order is also meant to address issues such as urban sprawl and illegal settlements, influx of unplanned development in environmentally sensitive areas, changes in road alignments, inadequate parking provision and traffic congestion, he said.
The 2018 order excludes Negril, a primary resort that straddles the parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover. Negril's development is covered by the Negril and Green Island Confirmed Development Order, 2015.
NEW ENVIRONMENTAL INFO
Williams said the review process under way could potentially reveal new information on historic sites and buildings, drainage patterns, water sources, and areas prone to hazards, such as flooding and land slippages, among other "development issues and/or challenges which are important to the vision of the community".
Once the date for feedback on the 2018 order has expired, NEPA will collate and investigate all objections or comments, some of which may require site inspections and consultations with different parties.
The objections and comments will then be submitted to the Town and Country Planning Authority; amendments will be made, if required; the order will then be submitted to the portfolio minister; and from there the order will be gazetted.