THERE should be no significant impact on the planned Greater Bernard Lodge Development in St Catherine by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Joseph Shoucair.
Shoucair, head of the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan Implementation Committee, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the developer is hoping to get started in July, with the laying of water and sewerage pipes.
“[So] yes, we are on target [for the planned development],” he said.
Shoucair said, however, that the decline of the Jamaican currency against the US dollar could impact the cost of building materials, but said he could not say to what extent.
The Bernard Lodge development, which is one of the most ambitious projects conceived by the Andrew Holness Administration, will cover a total of 5,397.02 acres from approximately 21,000 acres of former sugar estate lands, with 3,026.79 acres allotted for agricultural purposes and the remaining acreage divided among residential, commercial and light-manufacturing use.
It is a long-term (20-year) plan that will be able to accommodate future population growth in the Kingston Metropolitan Region, while creating a vibrant and sustainable community that addresses the challenges of affordable housing, transportation and access to jobs and services.
Shoucair, speaking at the launch of the revised plan in February, said: “It is a fallacy to believe that the Greater Bernard Lodge area is a new town. It will not be a new town. It will have an urban component but it will be 56 per cent agricultural production and for the rest of 5,400 acres, [they will be used] for housing and some commercial buildings and social services and a ‘retention pond’,” he stated.
The retention pond will run adjacent to tributaries, streams, lakes, or bays to protect against flooding and, in some cases, downstream erosion, and to retain water for use in drought periods.
More than 100 squatters within the 2,000 acreage of Bernard Lodge Estate destined for re-development are being relocated to a new area of Portmore to facilitate the project.
According to Shoucair, more than 40 of those squatters have already been removed to the relocation area close to Grange Lane, and have been upgraded from squatters to property owners.
Shoucair, who also heads the main developer — Sugar Company Holdings Limited, owners of Bernard Lodge Estate — said then that there were over 270 lessees, including the 104 affected by the relocation. The affected residents have each received two-acre pieces of land for relocation as the new owners.
The development in Bernard Lodge, the Government said, will have a positive spin-off for neighbouring Portmore, including the provision of potable water, sewerage, waste management, drainage, road rehabilitation in the Greater Portmore area, aquifer protection and regularisation of agricultural lots.
Rehabilitation works are also planned for Grange Lane, the Dunbeholden main road, the intersection of Passagefort Drive and Dyke Road, and the Bernard Lodge main road.
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