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History on Holetown’s side

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, [email protected]

History on Holetown’s side

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IMPROVEMENTS TO HOLETOWN have started but there is room for further enhancements to the historic town.

That’s the thinking behind the latest community plan for the St James district that is synonymous with tourism.

In recent years the upscale Limegrove Lifestyle Centre has been opened, tourism offerings have been enhanced, and Massy is currently redeveloping its Sunset Crest supermarket complex.

However, the new Holetown Community Plan released by the Town & Country Development Planning Office envisions much more. It sees Holetown’s “continued development as a Regional Centre that supports tourism through its service, entertainment and retail facilities”.

How will this be done? The “key directions” mapped out were to complete the waterfront route by connecting the two segments of completed boardwalk to create a continuous public connection along the waterfront; enhance the bus transfer point at Highway 1 and Highway C to include sheltered waiting areas and formalised vending areas; address flooding in the area by considering the existing culverts and the relationship of the outflows to the upstream catchment areas; maintain Folkestone Park as a key community asset and enhance the relationship between the marine and land components of the park; and address the public realm storm water issues within the civic centre and improve the access point to the sea.

The other recommendations are to enhance historic First and Second Street as pedestrian-focused, mixed-use areas; extend the Highway 1 landscaped boulevard and tree planting south of Cemetery Lane, including a pedestrian route; designate pedestrian priority areas between key destinations along Highway 1 to coordinate continuous sidewalks and pedestrian crossings at busy intersections; and protect the existing access points to the boardwalk and beach and create additional connections through any new development.

Town planning officials believe a number of challenges have restricted Holetown’s progress. These issues resulted “from its rapid growth as a tourist destination and mismanagement of the natural heritage system and its function in controlling storm water”.

“The challenges in the Holetown community plan area include: with an economy dependent on tourism, critical infrastructure in close proximity to the waterfront, and sensitive marine ecosystems, there is a heightened vulnerability to climate change. Following significant rainfall, storm water run-off overwhelms the drainage systems and causes flooding throughout Holetown,” the community plan stated.

It added: “As a built-up community, natural heritage is continuously under threat from development pressures and must be actively protected. Highway 1, the main high street corridor, serves neither vehicular traffic nor pedestrians well, creating congestion for the former and danger for the latter.

The waterfront is fragmented and public access is limited.”

Also, “There is little celebration and promotion of Holetown’s rich cultural heritage beyond the monument and cannons. Compared to other communities of similar size, Holetown has little in the way of public transport infrastructure.”

The document pointed to Holetown’s historic significance to Barbados, noting that it “has been the location of a number of archaeological studies concerning both prehistoric and historic archaeological resources”.

“Those studies attest to the presence of extensive archaeological resources in Holetown. In addition to its archaeological resources, Holetown has played an important role in the post-European settlement history of Barbados,” it said.

“Holetown is the site at which the island was first claimed for the Crown in 1625 and was also the point at which the first settlers landed in 1627. The town boasts an obelisk monument and cannons dedicated to the settlement.”

The plan also noted that “Holetown has developed over the years into a tourist-oriented centre with a large proportion of tourist accommodation in the area”.

“Development and expansion of high-end tourist accommodations has led to the region encompassing Holetown being referred to as the Gold Coast. However, it is much more than a tourist centre,” it said.

“Various housing developments for Barbadians have sprung up and with the associated population growth providing the catalyst for economic development, Holetown has retained its role as an important service and entertainment centre and provides substantial retail facilities.”

Within the context of the Physical Development Plan, Holetown is a regional centre which has been regarded as “built out”. That is because there was “little opportunity for growth and expansion, and consequently the plan focused on enhancement of the existing environment and minor intensification”. (SC)