PRESS RELEASE – The statement below is being released by the Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal, to provide clarification of the situation which has given rise to the complaints from the households that have occupied State owned property at Cresslands, without the permission of the Government.
The Cresslands Housing Development site comprises eighteen (18) acres of land which was acquired by the Government of Saint Lucia in 2000 and vested in the St. Lucia National Housing Corporation to be developed through the Sites and Services Component of the Shelter Development Project. The Cresslands site was thereafter incorporated into the Barons Drive Relocation Project as a resettlement site to be developed for the residents of Barons Drive, Soufriere.
The implementation of the Barons Drive Relocation Project commenced during the 2008/09 financial year; and by October 2010, a total of fourteen (14) housing units had been completed; along with the requisite infrastructure and utilities.
On 30 October 2010, the site was severely impacted by the water, mud and debris flows resulting from the passage of Hurricane Tomas. During the hurricane one housing unit was dismounted off its foundation and had to be demolished. Fortunately, no lives were lost since this event occurred prior to any occupation of the housing units. Immediately following Hurricane Tomas, the units were used to accommodate displaced households from Fond St. Jacques. The said households were subsequently resettled at Mocca, Soufriere.
Subsequently, the Government of Saint Lucia commissioned FDL Consult Inc. to investigate the physical and geological conditions which precipitated the damage to the Cresslands site during Hurricane Tomas. The primary outcome of this investigation was that the site was unsuitable for housing development given its propensity for landslides and rock falls during extreme events. It was also recommended that the plans for further development of the site be aborted; and that any occupation of the existing units should be preceded by the implementation of geotechnical mitigation measures. To date no such mitigation measures have been implemented.
The current residents in the housing units constructed commenced their unauthorized occupation during the second half of 2015, at which point they were advised by the Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal to cease occupation given the susceptibility of the site to extreme events.
The illegal occupation persisted until all the units were occupied.
Since the Government of Saint Lucia, is mandated to ensure the security and safety of its citizens; and in consideration of the potential for damage and loss of lives, the Ministry of Physical Development has instructed the occupants to vacate the housing units by 30 November 2015.