Bahamas urgently needs urban planning, says president of Bahamas Institute of Architects – Eye Witness News

“We have had a history of governments not using planners when it comes to development”

Chartered architect claims minister exaggerated when he said nothing had been done for Prospect Ridge development

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The president of the Institute of Bahamian Architects (IBA) said yesterday that this nation has a “great need” for urban planning to ensure communities are designed for the Bahamian environment.

Gustavus Ferguson, in an interview with Eyewitness Newsnoted that the association had received little information regarding the development of Prospect Ridge.

He said: “We have had a history of governments not using planners when it comes to development. This country has an urgent need for town planning. Many communities are considered in decline because we lack planning for how we develop our country.

Eighty-three acres of land identified on the north side of John F Kennedy Drive and at the junction of Prospect Ridge Road which was identified by the former government as a future site for housing developments.

“We continue to push for the government to engage planners with respect to development, particularly in New Providence, but also in Family Islands, such as Harbor Island.”

Speaking about the development of Prospect Ridge for young professionals, Ferguson said: “We don’t seem to have gotten an answer as to who are the planners and engineers who would be involved in the development of the subdivision.

“To our knowledge, no town planner was hired for the design of the subdivision. It was really concerning for us given a development of this magnitude and nature.

He added, “There are a lot of professionals sitting in the wings, waiting to help their country’s development. It’s not every day that we receive development projects like this.

“The government can mandate and ensure Bahamian professionals – city planners – participate and ensure that communities are designed for the Bahamian environment and not designs borrowed from a foreign jurisdiction.

“With any major development, one of the first things they would do is provide information about the designers and all the professionals who are involved and contributing to the design of the project.

“We couldn’t get that information. I can’t say if they had a full design team in place.

The Prospect Ridge Community for Young Professionals – an initiative created by the Minnis administration – has been the subject of much conversation in recent days.

JoBeth Coleby-Davis.

At a press briefing at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday, Housing Minister JoBeth Coleby-Davis claimed that nothing had been done to create a master plan for the development, noting that there was “a lot of substantive work to do”.

Senator Viana Gardiner, who chaired the Committee for Community Development for Young Professionals, hit back at the claims, noting that the development had progressed farther and faster than any similar subdivision.

A licensed architect with more than 20 years’ experience, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Eyewitness News that even if the Housing Minister’s assertions were true, to say that nothing had been done was perhaps an exaggeration.

“They were in a position where they could have thrown it. They could have started awarding lots to people if they were qualified and had the money while the rest happened,” the architect said.

“They did everything they were supposed to do before that. For them, putting the design together was a lot of work.