Town & Country
Development Planning Office
Saturday, Aug 23, 2014
TCDPO
Preservation and Conservation of Historic Buildings

Historic structures can include any structure of significant character or special historic or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development heritage, or cultural characteristics of a city, state, Nation, or the world. Such structures are recognized as having special status and worthy of preservation so they are protected from inappropriate alteration.  Buildings which occupy a significant place in the development of the architecture of a region or of the whole Nation, those which illustrate the distinctive contribution of cultural or ethnic groups, and especially those contributing to the evolution of modern architecture comprise another important category.

In most jurisdictions planning laws provide for the identification and designation of historic properties and districts and for implementing review procedures and design guidelines.  In Barbados, the Town and Country Planning Act Cap. 240 at section 29 makes provision for a list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest and Section 28 of the same act makes provision for building preservation orders.

The Town and Country Planning Act makes provision for the orderly and progressive development of land in both urban and rural areas and to preserve and improve the amenities thereof, for the grant of permission to develop land and for other powers of control over the use of use land, to confer additional powers in respect of the acquisition and powers in respect of the acquisition and development of land for planning, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.

Section 29(1) states:  For the purpose of performing his functions under this Act in relation to buildings of special architectural or historic interest, the Minister shall cause to be compiled lists of such buildings or approve, with or without modifications, such lists compiled by the Barbados National Trust or other persons or bodies of persons, and may amend any list so compiled or approved.

Section 30(1) of the same Act states: Subject to this section, so long as a building (not being a building to which a building preservation order applies) is included in a list compiled or approved under Section 29, no person shall execute or cause or permit to be executed any works for the demolition of the building or for its alteration or extension in any manner which would seriously affect its character, unless at least two months before the works are executed notice in writing of the proposed works has been given to the Chief Town Planner.

The Act also makes provision for Building Preservation Orders at section 28(1) where it states:  Where it appears to the Minister that it is expedient to make provision for the preservation of any building of special architectural or historic interest in the Island, the Minister may for that purpose make an order (in this Act referred to as a building preservation order) restricting the demolition, alteration or extension of the building.

The Physical Development Plan is a broad policy document whose major planning objective is to indicate a national settlement development strategy and policies for the Island up to a specified year.  The Development Plan is neither statute law nor subsidiary legislation.  The Chief Town Planner is required by Section 16(1) of the Act, in dealing with applications for planning permission, to have regard to the plan and also to any other material considerations.

For the purpose of this discussion reference to the Development Plan will focus primarily on the Amended Plan 2003.

My presentation this evening focuses on four primary areas namely:

  1. Cultural Heritage;
  2. Archaeological Areas and Monuments;
  3. Listed Buildings; and
  4. Cultural Heritage Conservation Areas.

Cultural Heritage

For the first time in the evolution of development planning in Barbados the Amended Physical Development Plan 2003 addresses the topic of cultural heritage in a very systematic and deliberate manner.  At the heart of this is the goal of cultural heritage which sets out to maintain and conserve the cultural heritage of Barbados, including both the built heritage and areas of archaeological significance.

Objectives

  1. Protect, maintain and enhance the quality of the built environment, namely all buildings and areas of architectural or historic importance, through the preparation of specific capital projects and through Town and Country Planning legislation.

  2. Encourage the conservation and preservation of the built environment through education and incentives to owners and the public at large;

  3. Establish, through Town and Country Planning legislation, an effective procedure for the conservation of all buildings and districts of archaeological, architectural or historic interest;

  4. Develop an ongoing programme of identification and designation of archaeological sites, in conjunction with the Barbados National Trust and the Barbados Museum and Historical Society.

  5. Establish and maintain data on all sites of historic or archaeological significance;

  6. Establish a system for the excavation and recording of all significant archaeological sites by a qualified archaeologist prior to development.

Archaeological Areas and Monuments

Archaeological Areas and Monuments refer to areas of known or potential archaeological resources.  The Amended Physical Development Plan at Appendix B has listed an inventory of 100 archaeological areas and monuments.  Some of the areas include Chancery Lane, Christ Church, Hillcrest, St. Joseph, Indian River, St. Michael, Newton, Christ Church and Fort Willoughby, St. Michael to name a few.  The Plan also contains a map which gives the general locations.

Archaeological sites will be protected in accordance with the Preservation of Antiquities Act.

Applicants for all development within defined archaeological Areas and Monuments must provide, as part of the supporting documentation for their proposal:

  1. details and importance of the archaeological remains;
  2. details as to how the development will effect the archaeological remains;
  3. appropriate remedial and mitigation actions required to maintain the integrity of the archaeological resources, such as:
    1. site designs which avoid the archaeological remains;
    2. burial of the archaeological remains by covering the features with a geotextile layer and mounding prior to development.
    3. excavation and preservation by record of the archaeological remains prior to development.

The Chief Town Planner, on advice from the Antiquities Advisory Committee may require, prior to approval:

(a)   additional documentation of the archaeological resources present on the site; and/or
(b)  redesign or enhancement of the proposed mitigation measures.

A detailed record of archaeological observations during construction may also be required as a condition of approval.

Listed Buildings

Barbados has a rich heritage of buildings ranging from grand colonial plantation houses and public buildings, to modest chattel houses.  It is the intent of the Government that the most important of these should be listed for preservation.  In addition, the Barbados National Trust, through its public education and other programmes, has contributed greatly to the conservation of the heritage of Barbados.

The Town and Country Development Planning Office in collaboration with the Barbados National Trust will revise and update the list of buildings.  It is proposed to categorise these buildings along with stating their specific characteristics and reasons why they are listed.

All development, including alterations to the interior, or exterior appearance; changes to windows, balconies, materials, painting and colouring; additions and extensions, change of use or demolition of a listed building, will require express planning permission, and will be circulated to the Barbados National Trust, the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, and any additional nominated body for comments.

Proposals involving the alteration, extension, change of use or demolition of a Listed Building will only be permitted where:

  1. they do not have any adverse effect on the architectural and historic character, or appearance of the building or its setting;
  2. they respect the scale, design and materials of the existing building;
  3. demolition or partial demolition will not be acceptable unless it can be shown to the Chief Town Planner that the building is beyond economic repair, viable alternative uses cannot be found, or that there would be substantial benefits to the larger community, and that an appropriate and detailed redevelopment plan is submitted.

In order to retain their appearance, permanent advertisements, or signs of any type within the curtilage of Listed Buildings, will need the express permission of the Chief Town Planner.
Change of use of Listed Buildings may be permitted by the Chief Town Planner.  The decision will take into account the land use designations of the area, the site and building characteristics and the proposed use of the building.  In all cases the distinction features of the building must be retained.

Conversion of Listed Buildings from a single family unit to more than one self contained unit may be permitted if it is in accordance with residential planning policies.

Development adjacent to or in the vicinity of a Listed Building, where through its siting, scale, or design, it would have a major adverse impact on the setting of the Listed Building, will be discouraged.

The Government will seek to increase the fines for illegal demolition of listed historic buildings.
In 1986 a heritage consultant prepared a report titled:  The Protection of the Built Heritage.  The report identified inter alia the following problems with the existing legal structure:The Act does not include procedures for “listed building consent” or for designating conservation areas.

  • The imposition of preservation notices is “a long, involved piece of legislative work.”
  • The enforcement procedures are “time-consuming.”
  • Penalties are insufficient to be a deterrence.

There is a recommendation to amend the Town and Country Planning Act to make provision for Urban Conservation Areas and the fine structure regarding the demolition of listed buildings or any building which is the subject of a Building Preservation Order.

Cultural Heritage Conservation Areas

The Amended Physical Development Plan at Appendix A defines a Cultural Heritage Conservation Area as follows:  groupings of buildings or structures projecting a unique architectural character which may be representative of a historic architectural style and/or reflect some aspect of the history or heritage of the community.  Cultural Heritage Conservation Areas may include buildings listed by the National Trust, other buildings and structures, as well as parks and open spaces areas.

The following development policies will apply to all Cultural Heritage Conservation Areas:
Conservation Areas will be designated in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act as a means of conserving areas of architectural, or historic importance.

All renovations and other development (as well as demolition) of any structures within Conservation Areas, will require express planning permission, and will be circulated to the Barbados National Trust, the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, and any additional nominated body for comments.

The felling or topping of all trees over 0.5 metres in diameter in Cultural Heritage Conservation Areas will require the express permission of the Chief Town Planner.

Development in Conservation Areas will only be permitted where:

  1. it enhances or preserves the character or appearance of the area or its setting;
  2. for demolition or partial demolition it can be shown to the Chief Town Planner that the building is beyond economic repair, viable alternative uses cannot be found, or that there would be substantial benefits to the larger community, and that an appropriate and detailed redevelopment plan is submitted;
  3. redevelopment is undertaken within an agreed timescale to ensure that vacant land and buildings do not detract from the special character and quality of the area;
  4. the new development will need to respect the special character and quality of the area through scale, design and materials.

All new development should normally conform to the relevant planning policies.  However, variations in these standards would be considered in order to maintain the specific environmental characteristics of the Conservation Areas.

In order to retain the appearance of Cultural Heritage Conservation Areas, permanent advertisements or signs of any type will not normally be allowed except with the express permission of the Chief Town Planner.

Any alterations to the exterior appearance of all buildings in the Conservation Area will need the express permission of the Chief Town Planner.  This will cover in particular windows, balconies, materials, painting, colouring, etcetera.

Development by the Government, its agencies and statutory undertakers, including wirescapes, sub-stations, roads signs, street furniture, drainage activities, streetscaping, road repairs and widening that affect the appearance of the Conservation Area, will require the express approval of the Chief Town Planner.  Generally, all publicly funded works will be designed in a comprehensive and complementary manner to enhance the special heritage character of the area.

Conclusion

I have just outlined the policies set out in the Amended Physical Development Plan (2003) to protect our cultural heritage.  The potential for successful heritage tourism is rich, however we have to ensure that our old traditional buildings are well maintained and preserved.  The policies, goals and objectives referred to earlier in my presentation have been developed in order to allow for preservation of our cultural heritage.



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