Cabinet has approved the revised master plan for the Greater Bernard Lodge Development in St Catherine, following an overhaul that includes an increased allocation for sustained agricultural activities within the area.
The approval was made in January.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz made the announcement during a press conference at Jamaica House on Friday (Feb. 14).
He said the followed a series of consultations with several government entities, farmers and residents, the planned development will seek to address housing, agricultural and infrastructural inefficiencies within the project area simultaneously.
“This includes accommodating future population growth in the Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMR), create and maintain a vibrant and sustainable community while tackling the challenges of affordable housing, transportation, access to jobs and services,” Vaz said.
The Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan (GBLDMP), a long-term project, will cover 5,397.02 acres with 3,026.79 acres or 56 per cent of the landmass being dedicated to agricultural purposes. The remaining acreage is divided among residential areas (1,513.12 acres or 28 per cent) as well as commercial, light-manufacturing, mixed-use and social services (accounting for 268.96 acres or 16 per cent).
The original master plan covered 3,948 acres in total, of which 43 per cent or 1,770 acres were eyed for agricultural use. Following concerns raised by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) as well as consultations with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and other interest groups, the proposal was recalibrated to its current dimensions.
Additionally, Vaz stated that the Bernard Lodge development will integrate and improve several areas of infrastructure, including the provision of potable water, sewerage and waste management as well as drainage, roadway rehabilitation in the Greater Portmore area, aquifer protection and the regularisation of agricultural lots.
The GBLDMP’s enactment is specifically being targeted to address the concept of Portmore being classified as a dormitory community—thereby transforming the Sunshine City and its surrounding communities into fully integrated townships equipped with all the necessary amenities to function independently of Kingston.
“Portmore is and has been [a dormitory community], and that will change with the implementation of the Bernard Lodge Master Plan. You will find people being able to live, work and do business within the same areas they co-exist. It is also consistent with the growth, employment and poverty reduction strategy of the Government,” Vaz said.