Letters to the Editor

What's going on in Barbican?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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Dear Editor,

The following is an open letter to Member of Parliament Delroy Chuck, Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams, Councillor Winston Ennis, Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, Social Development Commission, National Environment and Planning Agency, Urban Development Corporation, Town & Country Planning Department:

This letter represents the views of several residents of a proud residential community who are asking their elected representatives for answers. We have noted from several media reports that so much development has or is taking place in Barbican, yet the residents of the area have not been granted the courtesy of prior notification.

Whilst development and progress are natural and expected, the sudden avalanche of activity without due consultation and sufficient notification is unacceptable.

In November 2017 it was reported that a hotel will be built in Barbican and an architect on the project is quoted in the media as saying, “The planned six-storey hotel would add a different type of business to an area that is largely populated by retailers, with a few offices in between, and would be one of the tallest edifices in the vicinity.”

Barbican is predominantly residential, save for Barbican Square, so the comment in the article is concerning. This residential area is to have one of the tallest buildings constructed without any community discussion or feedback. We are very concerned.

A recent report stated that a new development order has been approved to increase the number of rooms per acre in Barbican, Kingston 6, by 100 per cent — from 50 rooms per acre to 100 rooms per acre. Meanwhile the executive director of the National Environment and Planning Agency was reported in the media as saying that other areas in Kingston 6 and Kingston 8 will increase from 20 rooms per acre to 30 or 50 rooms per acre. Why has Barbican been increased so dramatically to 100 rooms per acre? What is the current plan and the long-term plan for this residential neighbourhood? Will this area become the new 'Hip Strip' of Kingston with high-rise hotels?

Based on the article 'Construction Boom for Kingston' in the Jamaica Observer on January 21, 2018, approval was given for construction on Salisbury Avenue, Kingston 6, of 20 two-storey two-bedroom townhouses and a three-storey building containing 12 one-bedroom apartments as well as the construction of a three-storey apartment building of 12 one-bedroom apartments at Birdsucker Drive, Barbican. These developments are significant and will impact the residents of the immediate community. This development will be the largest one on Salisbury Avenue to date. Where was the notice to the community? Where was the opportunity to provide feedback or raise an objection?

The roadwork in Barbican Square is well needed to alleviate the traffic congestion in the area and we look forward to its completions. However, like several concerned citizens of Jamaica, we also object to the unsightly concrete pillars that have seemingly been placed as permanent dividers on the road. Apart from the unattractiveness of the pillars they are also impracticable. Barbican Square is a lively area with pedestrian traffic. If road dividers are necessary to ease the traffic flow, why not place an attractive island/median that will serve the purpose and also allow for pedestrians. The median could have foliage and greenery and help to beautify the area. What plans have been made for pedestrians, and what arrangements have been made for proper drainage? Again, where was the community discussion and consultation?

There has been an upsurge in crime in the area, including break-ins, car theft, and a recent hold-up of Chinese nationals in their rented home by gunmen. We cannot wait until someone loses their life before action is taken to curb this trend.

The issues highlighted above, and others, explain the immediate need for a community meeting to be held to answer the question: What is going on in Barbican? We call on all the responsible officers and agencies to convene a meeting to discuss the pressing issues. We look forward to the announcement of the date and venue of the meeting within the next seven days.

Concerned residents

Barbican

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