BASSETERRE, St Kitts, 5thFebruary, 2023—The Department of Physical Planning, which falls under the Ministry of Sustainable Development, on Thursday, 2nd February, 2023, ended a three-day consultation at the NEMA Conference Room, on the update of the National Physical Development Plan (NPDP). It was last revised in 2006 and speaks specifically to the use of lands in St Kitts.
The NPDP guides all development and management of land and natural resources, zoning and location of developments.
Director of Physical Planning, Austin Farier said the consultations are intended to generate meaningful discussion in order for the Plan to be effective and efficient. The consultations, he said, must take an inter-ministerial approach to include agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, energy, water, education, cultural preservation, environment and land management, among others.
Mr. Farier maintained that this approach is necessary because every sector wants to be prioritized. He added that living on a small island poses the challenge of not having enough land space. Therefore, the role of the planners is to advise on how much land should be allocated to each sector.
Michel Frojmovic, an urban planner based in Canada, who has consulted on various national land-use plans including the Urban Resilience Plan for a Greater Basseterre Project, said the purpose of reviewing the almost 17-year-old NDPD is to determine by sector, what mandates are required over the next 15 years.
He said, “Almost impossible to know but every sector wants more land, not less. There are some sectors, environment, biodiversity, where you want to see more environmental protection. There are so many acres on the island. So, how do you allocate it reasonably in the interest of the bigger vision?”
The bigger vision, he says, is always defined by the government.
He added, “Each sector has its own priorities. So, a National Physical Development Plan tries to understand what are all these priorities and how they translate into land use and how can we begin to give guidance for development that reflects a way to balance different priorities?”
Meanwhile, Director Farier said, based on the policies in the original plan, the consultations, which included experts and technical persons from the various sectors, will determine if these policies are effective, adhered to, and if not, consider their relevance going forward.
He said, “The history of how we use that plan is an indication of our future. If we don’t do anything, what happened in the past and what’s happening presently will continue if we don’t arrest it. If we want to arrest it now, what is the policy direction going forward and what are the implications on our lands to implement that policy?”
The Department of Physical Planning is working closely with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that is managing the National Development Plan on behalf of the wider project titled, “Improving Environmental Management through Sustainable Land Management in St Kitts and Nevis” that is funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF).