“Not at all,” was the firm answer of Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith when the question of whether the announced land allocation program that he outlined to reporters was politically motivated.
The Premier during a press briefing with members of the media announced that 60 persons were to receive land in phase one of the land acquisition project on Virgin Gorda.
The response by Hon. Smith that the announcement was not on account of the political disclosure of a candidate for the Ninth District that was noted in the media days ago was fielded by reporters.
However, the Premier shot down the assumption by noting that Government had put together a Committee in 2013 to decide and recommend persons to receive land in the North Sound division, and that the process continues. Hon. Smith said that Government had several meetings, and several recommendations which were taken to Cabinet.
During his press briefing Hon. Smith announced that Government approved a total of 60 persons for phase one of the land allocation project on Virgin Gorda: 35 persons for Phase one of Great Hill; 8 persons for the Phase one of Bakers Bay; and 17 persons for Phase one of The Bond Subdivisions.
In explaining Government’s decision to move forward with the distribution Premier Smith pointed out that awarding land was a norm. He said: “Ownership of lands by BV Islanders, especially young people has always been of interest to successive governments. For long, Government has played a role in making sure that lands were acquired by BV Islanders in Spooners, Stevens Lands, and Nibbs Estate in Sea Cows Bay.
My Government in following through with its commitment to the people, heard the concerns and loud cries of those in the Virgin Gorda community and in 2013 we immediately put a committee consisting of Virgin Gordians in place to address their concerns to embark on a land distribution scheme to subdivide three sites in North Sound, Virgin Gorda for residential and commercial purposes.”
It was explained that two of the sites, the Bond and Great Hill are to be subdivided for residential house lots while Bakers Bay has been earmarked for commercial purposes.
“Our goal was to establish a transparent and prudent way of distributing the crown lands in a fair and equitable way. Qualifying persons had to be resident of the Virgin Gorda and should not have previously owned property. The committee submitted a report to Cabinet recommending a list of persons for a grant of Crown Land for residential and commercial purposes,” Hon. Smith said.
He further disclosed that the report consisted of covenants to be included in the residential subdivisions to ensure that the area presents some sort of uniformity and that the development on one property does not affect the value of existing or prospective property owners.
Development in these areas, the Premier said, will be carried out in a phased approach and he noted that Government endeavours to carry out further subdivisions in the future: “We will be addressing the road servicing the Coppermine Subdivision, which consist of approximately 18 lots more or less to ensure that those individuals granted land in the past are able to have access to those house lots.”
Furthermore, Dr. Smith noted that work will begin as early as next week in preparation for works to commence in Coppermine. Thereafter, he said that the road cutting will commence in the North Sound area.