Mandeville needs strategic plan to get city status – Holness
While a number of stakeholders in Manchester continue to eye city status for the parish’s capital and lobby for the consideration of this title, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said Mandeville must first complete a master restructuring plan and improve its infrastructure.
He indicated that Mandeville, much like other towns across the country, is a stark contrast to the ideals of a major modern city.
“Residential [lots] mixed up with commercial [lots], mixed up with industrial [lots]. There is no planning for parking, it is a nightmare for local authorities and the municipal authorities to figure out, total chaos and disorganisation, and we want to change that,” he said.
DEVELOP MASTER PLAN
Holness indicated that the state of the town is as a result of a lack of planning at the time of its conception.
“There is nothing stopping Mandeville from becoming a city…[But] if it were to happen in the next eight years, in time for Vision 2030, you would then begin to realise that the building pace would have to increase far more than it is now. We would have to be doing in Mandeville over a hundred new buildings per year,” the prime minister said.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of K & T Development BPO centre in Bloomfield last Thursday, Holness encouraged the Manchester Municipal Corporation (MMC) to develop town planning resources to facilitate a master plan.
He said this main plan would disallow development that does not match with the strategic development and master plan for the town.
“Don’t take the incremental view, because it is the incremental view that got us into this problem. You have one application for one thing here and one there, but they all don’t come together to form a rational plan for development.”
He added: “You need to set a foundation for a rational plan of development that will include your traffic flow, proper parking, markets, and so forth, and then put it to the private sector to say, build according to this plan.”
With the Williamsfield to May Pen leg of Highway 2000expected to open in less than a year and the anticipated increase in traffic into the town centre, Holness said the highway will extend to the south coast, through St Elizabeth and on to Montego Bay, and will seek to alleviate congestion.
“Mandeville is a town with a special character and the people have their own personality, and we want to preserve it as much as possible. But the town is going to go through a rapid phase of construction and change.”
Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell said a proposal to expand the commercial belt of Mandeville along the Winston Jones Highway corridor and beyond, has been submitted to the National Environment and Planning Agency and is currently being assessed.
He said his expectation is that there will also be further development at Brooks Park, which sits on 28 acres.
That proposal, he said, has already been sent to the minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.
The MMC chairman is also lobbying for unused bauxite mines across the parish to be utilised as water sources to stem the long-standing water shortage in Mandeville as the population grows and the demand for efficient service increases.
Holness indicated that while preliminary activities such as the laying of pipes are ongoing, a long-term solution for the water issues will use pumped-storage hydropower.
“This involves the pumping of water and storing it at a higher elevation, using the energy for desalination that it generates… ,” he explained.
He added that discussions with private owners of wells are always on the table.