Sun | Jan 29, 2023

Letter of the Day | Consider the rights of the citizens, Mr PM

Published:Wednesday | December 7, 2022 | 12:07 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

This is an open letter to Prime Minister Andrew Holness regarding the Citizens Rights to the City (CRC) calls for No Confirmation Without Consultation on the Impact and lessons of the 2017 Provisional Development Order (PDO) for Kingston and St Andrew (KSA).

Dear Prime Minister Holness,

As you are aware, the 2017 Provisional Development Order (PDO) for Kingston & St Andrew increased heights and the allowable number of habitable rooms (that is, more people that can be accommodated) in a given space for new housing developments.

It also allows more mixed use residential and commercial in areas that were formerly mostly residential.

As a result, several communities have had an explosion in multistorey, residential development and commercial activity. The volume and pace are far ahead of the capacity of the KSAMC and other agencies to ensure compliance with building and planning laws. This is resulting in widespread breaches.

Many negative impacts are being experienced. These include increased traffic and noise levels, less green space, loss of privacy, blocked natural air flow and light for neighbouring single-family dwellings, increased run-off from paved surfaces adding to more flooding, more garbage but limited collection, more pressure on inadequate water supplies, more sewage and water costs for older residents and others on limited fixed incomes, and high, speculative demand that is driving property costs out of the reach of most city dwellers.

Five years is a good time to pause, properly assess and amend the order where necessary.

However, you have said publicly, Prime Minister, that Confirmation of the 2017 Order is imminent and on November 30, 2022 the CEO of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) advised a meeting of Parliament’s Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee that the PDO will be confirmed before the end of the year, that is, in December 2022.

Citizens Rights to the City (CRC), comprised of representatives of citizens associations and individual residents of 29 communities, is calling for no confirmation without consultation on the PDO, for such consultation to be part of a process of evaluating its impact and lessons learned, and for necessary amendments to be made based on the findings and recommendations of such a process.

RANGE OF CONSULTATIONS

We call for a range of consultative processes – including, for example, town hall meetings and a joint select committee of Parliament that invites public submissions and considers recent reports such as a NEPA Advisory Committee’s ‘KSAMC Height and Density Report’ (dated 06.02.2019).

The CRC also calls on you, Prime Minister, to urge governing party Member of Parliament Heroy Clarke, chairman of the Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee of Parliament, to urgently reconvene the committee which met on November 30, 2022 after not meeting for a year, but did not invite the network of community groups to speak to their submission first made to it in November 2021. CRC calls for urgent attention to that submission that addresses issues arising from the 2017 PDO.

Prime Minister, to confirm the 2017 PDO without any public consultation would be a travesty of the Government’s stated commitment to ‘citizen consultation’ and transparent governance.

Assessing and understanding impact and learning the lessons from the five years of implementation of the PDO can result in a Development Order that better enables orderly, balanced, equitable development, more inclusive, liveable, sustainable communities and a city geared towards a better quality of life for all.

SIGNED:

CITIZENS RIGHTS TO THE CITY

PARTICIPATING GROUPS

Citizens Rights to the City includes members of the following citizens groups and communities:

1. Acadia Citizens Association

2. Barbican Community

3. Beverly Hills Community

4. Blue Castle Citizens Association, Liguanea

5. Charlemont Drive Neighbourhood Watch and Citizen Association

6. Cunningham-Herb McKenley-Latham Ave Neighbourhood Watch

7. Eastwood Park Gardens Community

8. Edgecombe & Gainsborough Ave Citizens Group

9. Forest Hills Citizens Association/Citizens Advocacy Group

10. Freeport, Montego Bay

11. Golden Triangle Neighbourhood Association

12. Halifax Avenue/Kings Drive Community

13. Havendale/Meadowbrook Citizens Association

14. Harbour Drive/Harbour View

15. Irish Town Action Group

16. Jacks Hill Citizens Association

17. Leas Flat Citizens Association

18. Liguanea East Neighbourhood Association

19. Molynes Gardens Citizens Association Neighbourhood Watch

20. Mona Heights Citizen Association

21. New Kingston Citizens Association

22. Hope Pastures Citizens Association

23. Paddington Terrace Community

24. Queensway Citizens Association

25. Salisbury and Environs Neighbourhood Group

26. Sandhurst Citizens Association

27. Stony Hill Community Group

28. St. Andrew Park Citizens Group

29. Widcombe, Hopeview, Newhaven Citizens Association