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Downtown Kingston, other blighted towns could become more dense

Developers who invest in housing projects in communities currently plagued by urban blight stand to benefit from government incentives through new Development Orders being drafted for Kingston and St Andrew, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) said Friday.

Leonard Francis, director of NEPA’s Spatial Planning Division, explained that the new orders permit increased densities, among other things. He said requirements for facilities such as parking and recreational green spaces may be relaxed for housing developments in areas where such facilities already exists in close proximity and is accessible to the public.

He added that special concessions are also being made for developers who engage in mixed-income and mixed-use developments.

“Other incentives included in the Development Orders are allowances for smaller lot sizes and narrower set-backs. This means that developers will be able to maximise the use of the land and ultimately provide more affordable housing solutions for low-to-middle income Jamaicans,” Francis said.

According to the NEPA director, downtown Kingston has been earmarked in the draft Development Order for Kingston and St Andrew as one of the areas that will benefit from the relaxed planning policies.

The draft plans and other matters related to the renewal of the island’s urban centres will be the focus of World Town Planning Day 2015, internationally observed yesterday, November 8, under the theme Housing regeneration, strengthening communities.

Jamaica marked the day with a church service at Kingston Parish Church, and will stage an exhibition and host a panel discussion on at the National Housing Trust’s overtime facility in New Kingston today. Minister with responsibility for housing, Dr Morais Guy, will be the guest speaker.

Francis said the activities are aimed at continuing the conversation among the Government, private sector and civil society on how communities that are in need of regeneration can achieve it.

“World Town Planning Day on the local level, can provide a catalyst for the renaissance of the city of Kingston, igniting sustainable development in areas that have become blighted over time. This will lead to better living conditions and better jobs for all Jamaicans,” said Stephen Facey, Chairman and chief executive officer of Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust. The firm has partnered with NEPA in the observance.

Meanwhile, Aisha Campbell, general manager at West Indies Home Contractors (WIHCON) Development, another partner, spoke about the role of planning professionals.

“WIHCON has been developing communities in Jamaica for over 50 years and the company recognises the critical role of planning professionals and the local planning authorities in helping to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live. We look forward to our continued collaboration to ensure that through proper and innovative planning we can improve the welfare of Jamaicans by creating more convenient, sustainable, efficient and attractive communities,” she said.

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