1.1 Purpose of this Document
The purpose of this national Physical Development Plan (PDP) is to provide a framework to guide decisions concerning land allocation for a range of activities and general land use and the holistic development of the built environment in northern Montserrat during the period 2012 to 2022, consistent with Government’s vision for a sustainable and prosperous nation.
It is widely hoped that the Soufrière Hills volcano has passed into a less violent phase such that Montserratians can fully recover from the devastation that has ruined livelihoods and the economy since 1995. However, the risk of further volcanic action remains and, with some exceptions such as geothermal energy extraction, redevelopment of Montserrat must be restricted to the northern part of the island – outside the Exclusion Zone. This provides a total land area of about 16 sq miles in which redevelopment activities can take place. It is hoped that by 2022 Montserrat will be home to a resident population of approximately 10,000 people and will cater for some 15,000 tourists per year. The redevelopment activities outlined in this document recognise the importance of the Centre Hills (which accounts for 4 sq miles) and other areas of environmental and cultural importance. Failure to respect and protect these areas will not only compromise the quality of life for future Montserratians, it will harm the very aspect of Montserrat that is central to its tourism product upon which economic recovery greatly depends.
There is a need to carefully plan and allocate land in northern Montserrat in a manner that avoids conflicts between land users and to protect the island’s unique (and already endangered) flora and fauna. The aim of this document is to guide decisions regarding land use, allocation and development to achieve sustainable and equitable development for all Montserratians and others who wish to work and reside within the northern 16 sq. miles (10,240 acres) of this tranquil and beautiful island.
1.2 Specific Objectives of the PDP
Policies and proposals in the PDP will help Montserrat and its people to make positive progress towards the vision outlined in the SDP and through the consultation process. The specific objectives of the PDP are set out below.
- To maximise opportunities for the population to return to a viable level by the end of the plan period.
- To maximise opportunities for economic development and employment in all sectors.
- To improve and increase the existing housing stock so that the whole population has access to appropriate private housing of sound construction.
- To encourage owner occupation of residential property.
- To ensure that society’s vulnerable persons are appropriately housed and cared for.
- To ensure that new developments are properly planned and set out in accordance with the relevant standards.
- To ensure that social and community services are provided on an economic, efficient and equitable basis and are accessible to the whole population.
- To ensure the sustainable use of natural resources both on the island and in the surrounding waters and to minimise the adverse effects of development.
- To conserve and protect sites of landscape, ecological, historic and cultural value and to ensure they fulfil a role in the future development of the island.
- To protect agricultural land from loss through development and to improve access for local farmers to agricultural areas
- To ensure that Montserrat has appropriate standards of sea and air links.
- To encourage the efficient and effective provision of service infrastructure to make the most of available resources.
- To encourage the efficient use of energy and water and to develop geothermal energy as a primary driver for social and economic development.
- To reduce the impact of vehicular traffic on settlements and to support and to encourage scheduled privately or publically operated transport.
- To avoid the risk of environmental pollution from the disposal of liquid and solid waste.
- To reduce vulnerability to the potential effects of climate change and minimise the risks posed by potential natural and manmade disaster.
1.3 Statutory Requirements for updating the PDP
The Physical Development Plan is a statutory document, the content of which is prescribed by the Physical Planning Act (2002), Part III, which states that the PDP shall include:
n a statement of the principal aims and objectives with respect to the development and use of land in each area of Montserrat;
n a report on the existing conditions of each area of Montserrat including:
- the principal physical, social, economic and environmental characteristics of each area including the principal purposes for which land is used
- the size, composition and distribution of population
- the communications and transport systems and traffic
- the public services and the physical and social infrastructure provided
- any other matters which may affect the development and use of land
n a statement of the policies, proposals and programmes for the future development and use of land in each area including principles for regulating and promoting the use and development of land and measures for the maintenance and improvement of the environment.
The statement of policies, proposals and programmes shall have regard to current economic policies for the development of Montserrat and to the resources likely to be available for the carrying out of such policies, proposals and programmes.
Government conducts island-wide censuses every ten years; the next census is due in 2021. Future updates of the PDP will be scheduled for the year following each census so that information arising from the census can be taken into account when updating the PDP. The next update of the PDP will be in 2022.
1.4 Format of this Document
This document begins (Section 2) by describing the existing situation in north Montserrat in terms of its topography, environment, heritage and archaeology, its vulnerability to natural disasters, the current settlement patterns and land use, and the island’s current demographics and physical infrastructure.
Section 3 introduces the planning parameters and the main principles used for developing the physical development strategy.
Land use requirements are summarised in Section 4 and an evaluation of development potential is presented in Section 5. The evaluation takes into account committed and proposed development initiatives, the SDP commitment to protecting Montserrat’s environment and cultural heritage, and the need to minimise vulnerability to the effects of natural disasters and climate change.
The Physical Development Strategy in Section 6 comprises a comprehensive set of national land use policies that will inform and guide land use planning decisions for the period up to 2022.
Local Area Plans are provided in Section 7 for each of the main settlement areas. These have been developed in order to address the community needs of each area by allocating suitable space for desirable residences, local shops and services, health centres, and space for local cultural events. At an island level, the Physical Development Strategy aims to bring together all communities, businesses and other facilities to reflect a “Montserratian spirit”. This theme is reflected in the plans for all significant new developments, including the 3-bay concept for Carr’s Bay, Little Bay and Rendezvous Bay.