Physical Development Strategy

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6.1     Introduction

The previous three sections have set out the planning parameters, provided an assessment of the forecast land requirements to 2022 and evaluated the available land suitable for development.

This section sets out the preferred option for the spatial development of north Montserrat in a way that meets current needs for communities, business and the economy while ensuring that development derives maximum benefit from, and does not compromise, environmental and built heritage assets.

The key elements of the strategy are outlined below. Detailed land use and development policies are then set out in Section 6.4 to guide development for each sector. This includes high level infrastructure policy for the plan period. Details and cost estimates for specific infrastructure items are provided in the separate ‘Infrastructure Plan 2012-2022’.

6.2     Key Elements of the Strategy

The PDP aims to integrate a wide range of issues into a physical development strategy that supports the SDP development objectives. The plan aims to facilitate social development and economic growth activities, identified via public consultations across Montserrat, while ensuring that people have access to a wide range of services locally, have access to appropriate housing and community facilities and are able to maintain or attain a high quality of life. This must also support the valuable environmental and built heritage assets that underpin socio-economic development of the island through tourism, quality of life and water provision.

Figure 6.1 illustrates the wider land use strategy for north Montserrat. The areas shown in orange are the main settlement areas. These are areas of more complex land use demands and community issues. For each of these areas a Local Areas Plan (LAP) has been developed (see Section 7 – Local Area Plans) to describe the existing situation, the community issues, development opportunities and constraints, and the subsequent land use policy and infrastructure recommendations.

GIS figure 6.1 – physical development strategy

A new capital town at Little Bay

Since 1999 Little Bay has been considered as a new capital town and economic centre for Montserrat. Government is now a advancing plans to develop Little Bay, Rendezvous Bay and Carr’s Bay as an integrated 3-Bay concept aimed at providing modern, efficient and attractive residential, commercial and tourism-related facilities that will spearhead the island’s economic recovery.

It is proposed to develop a port at Carr’s Bay that will accommodate small cruise-ships, cargo vessels, the ferry and some large yachts. The new quayside along Carr’s Bay would be developed as the new town’s waterfront, providing local business opportunities by way of shops, cafés and so on. This waterfront would extend through to the seaward end of Piper’s Pond where the “Evergreen Roundabout” (from old Plymouth) would be recreated. The new town would then extend from the roundabout eastwards to the new market and business court area within Little Bay. Within Little Bay itself, a high-end resort and government buildings would be constructed, along with a new recording studio to revive Montserrat’s music industry. Rendezvous would remain as a natural paradise unless there is a compelling case for a development such as a suitable high-end eco-style hotel or an adventure activity centre to further boost the tourism industry and overall economy of the island.

The existing jetty at Little Bay could be developed into a yacht marina, with a boatyard and boat repair facility in the Little Bay Ghaut area, creating a potentially significant new business opportunity. Local fishing vessels would be accommodated with safe moorings and maintenance areas.

A resilient network of decentralised village centres

While Little Bay and Brades will provide many of the islands services, retail and commercial facilities, the island’s other village centres will continue to meet the retail and commercial needs of local communities. This will ensure local access to services and, following lessons learnt from the loss of Plymouth, will avoid the risk of locating all services in one location.

Adequate and appropriate housing

Infilling and consolidation of existing settlement areas will meet most of the projected residential development needs during the plan period. As identified in Section 5.7, several significant new sites can be developed if there is demand for larger housing projects. The maximum densities of housing plots will be such that residents are able to own an area of garden. As development increases in the future and during the next PDP plan period it is anticipated that residents in Montserrat will need to accept higher density housing in some areas.

Social housing will occur in areas of high and medium density housing and will be mixed with private properties to ensure that areas of low income households are avoided.

Economic activities

  • Tourism

       Based on improved air and sea access, tourism will continue to grow toward a target figure of 15,000 arrivals per year. High-end tourism is intended for Little Bay, including a flagship hotel, restaurants, villas, volcano interpretation centre, museum, and a bio-diversity centre. A port at Carr’s Bay will provide for cruise/ships, large yachts, cargo vessels, and the ferry. Villa tourism will continue to be encouraged in the Beachettes area, while the development of guesthouses and restaurants will be encouraged throughout the north.

       Sports tourism and villa tourism will be supported through strong investment in appropriate facilities. A golf course will be developed on Blakes Estate along with a high-end villa development. This will complement the existing FIFA football pitch and can be enhanced with the provision of further sports facilities such as tennis and basketball.

       Tourism based on the natural environment and the Soufrière Hills volcano will also be nurtured through permits for suitable eco-lodges at selected locations. These could serve the additional purpose of well managed buffer zones surrounding the protected Centre Hills area.

  • Agriculture

       Global food security issues and high import costs currently leave Montserrat in a vulnerable position. Sufficient land is allocated on the northern and south-western fringes of the protected Centre Hills forest to meet and exceed the national food production targets. It is envisaged that agricultural production will benefit from new techniques and the use of greenhouses and net-houses, reducing the amount of land required and the incidence of insect pest damage to vulnerable crops. The MAHLE will encourage backyard gardening by ensuring appropriate housing densities.

  • Office space

       Office space for commercial activities will be developed as the demand arises. It should be located in Little Bay, Brades, and in a new commercial zone north of the airport in Geralds. There should be adequate provision for local business in each village centre. Government offices will continue to be primarily located at the current headquarters in Brades, but some ministries and departments – particularly those offering services directly to the public – will be relocated to Little Bay.

  • Retail

       As mentioned above, larger retail premises will be located in Little Bay, Brades, Geralds, while local facilities will be promoted in all village centres.

  • Industrial and storage facilities

Suitable light industrial and storage facilities (warehousing, etc) will be permitted adjacent to the relocated fuel depot in the former quarry basin behind the port area in Little Bay Ghaut. Permissions will depend on safety considerations with respect to the fuel facility, and the safe and efficient movement of cruise ship passengers and freight through the port entrance area where congestion must be avoided. Industrial and storage facilities will be permitted in Carr’s Bay, but would be inconducive to the planned developments at Little Bay, except for a proposed boatyard in Little Bay Ghaut.

An industrial zone is also located at Brades around the existing power station, where land was already allocated in the previous plan for industrial and storage purposes. Parts of Happy Hill are allocated for small scale ash/sand-based or agro-processing activities.

  • Sand Mining

For the foreseeable future, sand-mining activities will be based in the Belham Valley area. This will be managed in such a way as to minimise the impact on the surrounding residential areas and on the environment. All sand-mining activities will, therefore, be subject to the findings and provision of relevant technical studies, an Environmental Impact Assessment and an associated Environmental Management Plan and, to be enforced through appropriate legislation.

Community Services

  • Health Facilities

The island’s only hospital will be redeveloped during the plan period to meet the needs of the expected increase in population and changing demographic profile. Local clinics will be similarly upgraded in response to changes in local population and demographics. Improved health care facilities will be provided with additional local clinics in Lookout and Little Bay.

  • Educational Facilities

Existing primary school arrangements are considered to be adequate for projected demand during the plan period, but additional pre-school (kindergarten) facilities could be provided by the private sector. Options for the possible relocation of the Montserrat Secondary School have been identified. Private sector investment in tertiary education will be promoted, including a permanent medical school and possibly a school of public management; both of these facilities would be “twinned” with appropriate well-reputed academic institutions, probably in the USA, UK or Canada.

  • Recreational Facilities

The need for public recreation space in Montserrat will be addressed through the provision of safe and appropriate green space and recreational facilities in every village centre. Community centres should be available for public events, local activities and training in each village centre. Land has been identified at Woodlands, St John’s and Lookout for additional open recreation space and Brimm’s Ghaut is to develop a network of exercise trails.

  • Public Cemetery

The location of a national public cemetery has been approved in eastern Lookout. This will be buffered by an attractively landscaped community park. Further public cemeteries will be required during the PDP plan period and suitable locations will be found subject to ground condition studies.


  • Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy will be developed to provide a reliable, economic and sustainable means of producing the island’s electricity. Subject to successful exploration results, the geothermal power plant will be large enough to provide sufficient energy for export to Antigua.

  • Telecommunications

Montserrat will be reconnected to the two Caribbean regional fibre-optic telecommunication networks. This will provide fast, reliable Internet and telephony links to the whole world and encourage the establishment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) businesses on the island. Additionally, it will facilitate video-conferencing for international business purposes and video-lecturing in support of higher education.  Where appropriate, services will be placed underground.

  • Access

The new port at Little Bay will accommodate the ferry, fishing vessels, yachts, and small to medium-sized cruise ships (max. 1,000 passengers). The port area and moorings for relatively small boats will be protected by a suitable breakwater. A  marina at Little Bay or Carr’s Bay will serve the needs of larger yachts.

  • The airport runway at Geralds is sufficient to meet projected passenger movements in the plan period, but the terminal building will be upgraded to increase passenger throughput, provide for CIPs, and improved restaurant facilities. The control tower will be relocated, possibly integrating it with the terminal building, and space will be designated as a commercial helipad. Issues of safety will be held under constant review and this will include reserving land for a possible new runway.Road Network

The road network will be gradually improved, including new link roads where appropriate to improve traffic circulation to ease congestion and avoid bottlenecks in the event of evacuating areas near the Exclusion Zone. These investments will be protected via an increasingly proactive approach to preventative road maintenance.

Safety will be improved for vehicular road users by improving road alignment, road markings and roadside features. Pedestrian safety will be enhanced via suitable sidewalks between residential/commercial areas.

  • Energy

The reliability of the power network will be improved by replacing obsolete equipment, including old diesel generators and transmission and distribution items. Appropriate distribution items will be placed underground. Geothermal energy should become available during the plan period, reducing the role of the diesel power station to one of a backup facility. Geothermal will reduce the reliance on other forms of renewable energies, but solar panels (especially for hot water provision in houses and offices) will be actively encouraged.

  • Water Supply

The springs and wells that provide the island’s fresh water will be protected, including a programme to improve the existing infrastructures at these sites. Potable water storage capacity will be increased, initially to address current needs and then to provide for projected demand associated with major developments at Little Bay, Carr’s Bay and elsewhere across north Montserrat. Old distribution lines will be gradually replaced to maintain the quality of supplies and to meet projected demand.

  • Water Treatment

Existing sewage treatment facilities will be upgraded, and communal systems will be introduced to meet the needs of growth in existing residential areas and for new residential developments. Some facilities, such as Davy Hill and Lookout, will be relocated to avoid dangers from effluent overflows.

  • Solid Waste

The existing landfill site at New Windward will be redesigned and reorganised to improve the effective environmental management of solid waste. This, as far as practicable, will include lining the existing site and setting aside separate areas for specific waste streams.

  • Emergency Services

The police, fire and ambulance stations will be retained at Brades and Salem. Access/egress at Brades will be improved via a new road link. A new ambulance station will be provided at Little Bay to serve tourists and new residents in this area as well as the adjacent areas of Davy Hill, Carr’s Bay, Drummonds, and Geralds.

  • Tourism Infrastructure

Hiking trails, clearly marked from the main roads, will encourage tourists to investigate Montserrat’s natural beauty. An improved maintenance programme will make it easier for people to undertake walks into the Centre Hills and Silver Hills areas. Heritage programmes will identify public buildings of cultural importance to be protected and, in suitable cases, to be opened to the public as places of interest.

Minimising vulnerability to disaster

Land development is proposed in a manner that vulnerability is reduced to the range of disasters that Montserrat is likely to experience, including the anticipated effects of climate change. This is reflected, for example, in the location of critical infrastructure. Where land use planning is unable to minimise the risk to residential areas to phenomena such as hurricane wind speeds, it is crucial to mitigate these risks through enforcing appropriate Development Standards, as set out in Appendix A, and appropriate building codes

Where areas are at perceived risk from volcanic activity, such as Salem and its immediate vicinity, it is important to support social and economic development, making these areas vibrant and attractive places to live and to do business.

Environment and Conservation

Montserrat will ensure that its reputation as the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” will continue with strict protection maintained of the Centre Hills. A network of riparian strips and green buffer zones along the island ghauts will be closely managed to avoid inappropriate development that may threaten ecology, water courses, or attractive views. This green core will continue to support quality of life and economic development through recreation, and low volume, eco-appropriate tourism.  Strict management measures will be employed to balance development with environmental sustainability across the island.

Cultural Heritage

The historic focus of heritage and archaeological protection has been Plymouth and the south of Montserrat. Permissions for development in the north will take full account of important sites of historic and socio-cultural significance.  Wherever possible, sites and artefacts will be preserved for future generations and to ensure that Montserrat’s multi-cultural population understands the island’s rich heritage and sense of self. An urgent examination of these sites will lead to a series of detailed protection and management measures. Where it is not possible to fully preserve a site, adequate opportunity must first be given to qualified archaeologists to examine, excavate and document the site, and for artefacts to be catalogued and moved to the museum.

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