Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Private developers have interest in Dallas Mountain - Chang

Published:Friday | December 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton

Several developers are said to have shown interest in putting housing solutions on state-owned lands in the Dallas Mountain area of St Andrew, which has recently been captured, cut up, and was being sold for as low as $3,000 per lot.

Opposition Spokesman on Housing Dr Horace Chang told The Gleaner yesterday that he believes Dallas Mountain "is good land for housing".

"It is land that is near ... the Corporate Area, and we should look at development in the area. I know there have been individuals looking at it," said Chang, who was housing minister in the last Jamaica Labour Party administration.

"As far as I am aware, nothing had happened. Some of the land actually extends to Hope River, and that section of the lands is subject to floods. The whole Hope River Valley, you have to look at it carefully where you build. Part of what I had done as minister is that I had acquired some funding from the Global Environmental Funds; they have just started to spend it," Chang said.

He said the money would allow the Government to conduct an assessment of the overall valley and what is needed to make it safe.

The Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Unit, an elite police squadron, is investigating the sale of state lands in the area that overlooks the Hope River.

Dr Morais Guy, minister without portfolio in the housing ministry, said the persons who have bought lands at Dallas Mountain should seek to reclaim funds from those to whom they have made payments.

"What is going to have to happen is that the law is going to have to take its full course, and those who have deposited money will have to get back money from those they gave it to," Guy said.

Chang agrees that the money should be returned, saying that what has taken place is criminal.

MOVE TO DEVELOP AREA

He said, however, that every effort must be made by the State to develop the area "quickly and do so at rates that are affordable".

"You can't sell government property; you must return the money. But we will certainly be willing to work with people in the area to do a development."

Chang said funds were earmarked under the Global Environment Facility to look at the Hope Valley area, which takes in Dallas Mountain, for analysis on the area.

"You have to cauterise the informality and the illegality, and you must have a programme of continuing development of affordable housing solutions. If you have lots with light, water and roads, you can sell the lots. People will build on it," Chang said.

"Once the population sees that something is being done to offer them a workable solution, they will, in fact, be patient and work with the Government," he added.

Chang suggested that the Government tap into the Tourism Enhancement Fund and borrow money from the National Housing Trust to create housing solutions for low-income Jamaicans.

He said it was the failure of Government that has given rise to squatting across the society.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com