|The Vision for San Fernando - Part 2
Thursday 26th August, 2004
This week we will consider the development proposals for the city of
The noted imbalance in the national
allocation of resources and facilities between north and south Trinidad
is even more remarkable when we consider that since 1991 we have had
Prime Ministers from South. Does it mean that these men set out to be
national leaders and set aside any regional ambitions? Perhaps the
patterns we described last week are so deeply rooted that it will take a
really determined effort to transform this picture. Our post-1986 norm
of one-term governments with its consequent dilution of long-term
policymaking may be more responsible than the individual leaders or
The South Trinidad Chamber of Commerce
published ‘A Vision for San Fernando’ in September 1995
and it is a call for action to prevent the continuing decline of the
country’s ‘Industrial Capital’. I was not able to get a full copy of
this valuable resource, but some of the key issues raised by this group
of stakeholders were –
Exploitation of the potential of the
King’s Wharf area for commercial and office users.
Improving the poor access between the
Waterfront area and the High Street/Harris Promenade by building a
Reclamation of part of the King’s
Wharf waterfront to offer new transport options – both road and sea.
UDECOTT has also published similar
proposals but it is clear that the Town & Country Planning Division has
not revised its plans to take account of these proposals. The draft
plans need to be adopted as the authoritative versions if critical
issues are to be properly determined.
Some of the key planning issues would be
Access to the Waterfront – It
is early days yet and we have the opportunity to avoid the notable
errors of the waterfront development in and around our capital. Of
course I am referring to the fact that private landowners have been
allowed by poor land-use planning to effectively deny public access
to our waterfronts. We in POS have ended up in a position no
developed country would allow; the coastal city with no public
coastal facilities or even pleasant views. We need to ensure that
this error is not repeated in San Fernando.
Housing Policy – Last week we
highlighted the telling research into the poor condition of the
housing in the city – in fact San Fernando’s housing is in poorer
condition than any other town in the country – and the opposition to
any large-scale construction of affordable housing there. It remains
to be seen how the opportunity offered by the Caroni lands will be
exploited and whether the city centre will be abandoned to continued
decay by loss of its residential core.
Peripheral commercial development
– The Cross Crossing Interchange has significantly improved access
along the South Trunk Road/San Fernando Bypass. There are a number
of proposals for development along this stretch. One could contend
that these are more appropriately located in the city centre, since
the intensive development of the lands bordering these roads would
act to undermine their essential purpose – i.e. to provide an easy
and relatively smooth passage for vehicles. To allow those proposals
would lead to this stretch becoming like the perpetually-congested
Wrightson Road in POS. Of course, the landowners along that stretch
might well object to any attempts to unduly limit their rights. This
tension is natural and expected.
These are potent issues for the planning
system to address. The purpose of that system is to balance these
contending claims as to the nature and extent of land development and
use. The establishment of appropriate public policy can only be achieved
by a collaborative process.
There are two distinct types of
large-scale development upcoming in San Fernando – peripheral
development at the edges of the city and a series of proposals to
redevelop the Downtown/Waterfront Area.
The main features of these are set out in the sidebar.