EDITORIAL – Holding Valery complex to be on solid ground
Unquestionably, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is as pleased as punch with his high-rise solutions – and not without good reason.
With the start of his Government’s multiple-storey apartment building programme, he sees a re-energizing of urban social life and a reconsolidation of community spirit.
At Saturday’s launch of the six-storey, 72-unit Valery project, the first of several such to come, the Prime Minister said these developments would provide decent housing for low-income residents, putting a check on decades of neglect of and exodus from wider Bridgetown communities.
The benefits of these high-rise buildings cannot be denied. For one thing, an apartment owner will be living with scores, if not hundreds of other people, which spells opportunity for making friends – other than by Facebook – who are literally a staircase or partition away.
It can engender the community spirit of which Mr Stuart speaks.
It should also beget a greater sense of tolerance: an understanding of the need of respect for the lifestyles of others, inclusive of the absence of rowdy parties.
If we shall judge by the four-storey housing complex on the corner of Whitepark and Country Road, the Valery development will be of rich colour, its higher floors boasting an excellent view nigh to the heart of The City. There will be few other things as romantic as enjoying a glass of wine with your spouse on an elevated Valery balcony, with the twinkling urban lamps and a competing moonlight to keep you company.
For all the ecstacy from vistas these high-rise apartments may afford, though, there are also the possible hazards to consider. Owners need to ensure their place of living is danger-proof for themselves and their young children. Balconies must be closely monitored, the doors to them securely locked from the little ones.
Another concern about the high-rise is that of fire and water damage originating from an accident in the apartment next door. Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins, “very cognizant of the firefighting challenges”, was guided by the Building Standards Authority. He said care was taken to employ “the appropriate fire rating for the walls doors and escape areas”.
Which should please somewhat structural engineer Grenville Phillips II, who is of the view the Government should go the extra mile in enlisting the services of a “check consultant” for structural soundness.
For “critical facilities”, Mr Phillips says, it is normal elsewhere for “another set of eyes” to look over the work of the original designers.
We think Mr Phillips has a point; we can never be too sure.
But Prime Minister Stuart, naturally having profound confidence in his technical advisers, is fully satisfied everything at Valery is in order: compliance with all legislation and regulations, and geotechnical studies to ensure the apartment complex’s stability.
We will take the Prime Minister at his word; and hold him to it.