Former MP calls for education programme to address building concerns in Falmouth

Former MP calls for education programme to address building concerns in Falmouth

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter FALMOUTH, Trelawny

Thursday, November 14, 2013

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FORMER Member of Parliament for North Trelawny Wendell "Bull Bull" Stewart has called on the Trelawny Parish Council and other stakeholders to undertake an initiative, in an effort to educate owners of buildings in Falmouth, about the stipulations laid down by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), aimed at preserving the historic town's Georgian architecture.

"The parish council needs to decipher a misunderstanding. They (residents) need to understand what they are protecting, so that they can better buy into the idea, and I think that is where the breakdown is. They (stakeholders) have not been able to win the landowners in Falmouth because it is not being sold properly," said Stewart, who is also a resident of that north coast town.

He explained, for instance, that home owners should be informed that they are only required to maintain Georgian-styled architecture to the front of their buildings, as opposed to the false notion held by many that the entire structure should be of Georgian architecture.

"We need to tell people what we are asking them to preserve, and at times assist where possible. They (JNHT) want to preserve the external look (of the buildings) that faces the streets and so on. But what you do beyond that is basically on your own and people don't understand that," Stewart argued.

JNHT, in 1997, proclaimed sections of Falmouth a heritage district in an effort to regulate and preserve the Georgian town.

As a result, no infrastructure development, large-scale or domestic, can take place in those areas without the heritage watchdog's approval, and all development must conform to the Georgian theme.

But the preservation of the town's predominantly Georgian-styled buildings is oftentimes viewed by developers and owners of buildings alike, as a retrograde step.

Meanwhile, Dr Ivor Conolley, executive director of Falmouth Heritage Renewal and president of the Georgian Society of Jamaica, is urging residents to preserve their dwellings, arguing that the smaller buildings, especially, "should be used as a memory of the emancipated slaves who bought them."

"A lot of people say it (the buildings) reminds us of slavery and master and all of this kind of things. But a lot of these buildings weren't built by these people (slave masters), they were built by us, who when we got our freedom, what money we had, and what money we earned we take and build these small buildings," Dr Conolley said.

Both Stewart and Dr Conolley were speaking to the Jamaica Observer West during a Wine and Cheese mingle, staged at the historic Falmouth pier by the Falmouth Heritage Renewal in an effort to raise funds to assist in improving buildings in Falmouth.

The Falmouth Heritage Renewal, established 10 years ago, is funded privately.

Meanwhile, Stewart was recognised by the Falmouth Heritage Renewal for the upkeep of his family house at 22 Cornwall Street, Falmouth, bought by his parents in an auction in the early 1940s, for a £35 price tag.

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