PM wants full briefing on plans for Bernard Lodge housing projects

PM wants full briefing on plans for Bernard Lodge housing projects

Senior staff reporter

Friday, April 26, 2019

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday requested a full brief on the plans for the Bernard Lodge housing development in St Catherine.

This followed his assertion on Wednesday at the National Housing Trust (NHT) groundbreaking ceremony for the Silver Sun Estates in Innswood, St Catherine, that small island states like Jamaica could not allow developments to spread in a haphazard manner.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the statement in responseto criticisms raised about the plans for a new city development in St Catherine, including the potential environmental threats related to the project.

Insisting that the approach to housing development must be orderly, Holness confirmed yesterday that he has requested a full brief on the development plans.

“There is always the issue of the utilisation of land (we) shouldn't be using land, for housing which is good agricultural land, how will it affect the aquifer, the development and environmental concerns and it is something that I am very sensitive to and it is never easy. But, the nation must never lose sight of the ultimate goal, and the ultimate goal is to provide shelter in an orderly way and in a sustainable way. I have now requested a full brief,” he said.

“Since I have launched the programme it has advanced, so I want to see where they are with it, as the public concerns need to be addressed. But, I wish to say here that I am very concerned about the sprawling nature of residential developments,” he stated.

In the meantime, the prime minister says the Government may incentivise developments in higher density towns and cities, such as Mandeville and Montego Bay, if developers focus on constructing multi-storey apartments in those areas.

“At some point in time —and that point is coming soon — the Government will have to arrange its toolbox. As I said, the NHT (National Housing Trust) was an instrument, a tool, and the ministers are craftsmen of policy. So, we will have to change policies and use the toolboxes to send signals to the private sector, the private developers, to give them incentives to focus on the areas that we already built,” said Prime Minister Holness.

Holness broke ground Wednesday for construction of 1,200 new houses at Silver Sun Estates in Innswood, St Catherine, which will be sold through the NHT.

These two-bedroom homes will be built by West Indies Home Contractors Limited (WIHCON) under the NHT's new Guaranteed Purchase Programme (GPP), through which the agency agrees to purchase houses for its customers that are designed and constructed by developers.

The NHT will purchase all or an agreed number of units, thereby relieving the developers of the associated market risk under GPP.

“I see this programme as a very successful programme, and I think that in the coming months, it will be expanded [and] as more and more developers and contractors see the programme working, they will want to participate,” Holness said.

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