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Chief Architect Wants Derelict Buildings Demolished

Image of Augustin Poyotte

A leading architect is voicing the concerns of architects across the island wishing for a revision of the island’s building codes, as well as for old buildings to be torn down.

Image of Augustin Poyotte
Augustin Poyotte, Chief Architect in the Ministry of Physical Planning

With many derelict and unsightly buildings taking up valuable space all across the island, Augustin Poyotte, Chief Architect in the Ministry of Physical Planning, says there is more at stake than their unsightliness.

Following the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria last month — the two Category 5 hurricanes that battered Barbuda and levelled Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth of Dominica — there have been calls to rid the island of derelict and potentially deadly structures that would undoubtedly topple in the event that the island is hit by a similar weather system.

A much-needed revision of the island’s building code is also being called for in an attempt to protect St. Lucians from Mother Nature’s fury.

Poyotte said not only are the derelict buildings that occupy various lots costly to both building owners and the government but that they are also extremely hazardous.

He said: “I think that these buildings can pose a danger to the public. They should be demolished and I think the City Council alongside the MOPD are well within the ambits of the law to get that done. It’s just a case where the attitude has to be there to get that done.”

Poyotte suggested that in order to save time and money, building owners could partner with the Castries Constituency Council as well as his ministry to make demolition arrangements. Keeping the derelict buildings standing he said, is costlier than demolition.

With regards to the island’s building code, Poyotte said it is an old code that has been in existence for many years; however, there are ongoing discussions to have said codes revised.

He said: “It is happening across the OECS, and it is happening in St. Lucia. I think within the next, say, two months or so, it will be ready for Cabinet to give it its final blessings.”

Poyotte added: “Internally, it is being reviewed, but there’s a later review that will happen with the professionals. It has already happened at one level, but it’s going to happen again.”

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3 Comments

  1. A revision of the building codes should not take a long time in light of fact we have a good basic code already which is on par with international standards. All countries are faced with the problems of climate change. Even the AIA is about to review codes.

    The issue here goes beyond codes, it is one of building forms which calls for creative architects and engineers developing forms that will minimize uplift by hurricanes and damage by earthquakes. We the professionals know the solution to the problem.

    Allow me to point out, (addressing this to the general public) that when we speak of codes it is not confined to structural matters. The spatial/volume, electrical, plumbing, fire egress systems, environmental, etc. aspects are important as well and are categorized in the building code.

    The other issue of derelict buildings in the city is one of grave concern. In the Geroge Charles Blvd. area, as an example, a new community facility was built recently but it is in the midst of extensive vacant/derelict dwellings. It appears that an exodus is taking place in this community.

    This area calls for a proper masterplan.

  2. I agree for the revision and the ‘cleaning up’ of the old buildings, however we ought to be cautious not to destroy historical sites. The national trust should be partnered in the demolitions.

  3. In October 2017, when this article was published, the OECS Commission on behalf of the member states (Saint Lucia included) had already fully commissioned a 3-person team to revise the OECS Building Code.

    The Code was reviewed and revised between December 2014 and June 2015 by the Consulting Team of Engineer Tony Gibbs of B’dos, Engineer Dr Judith Harvey of Saint Lucia and Architect Mark Hennecart of Saint Lucia.

    Currently, the 2015 Revised Saint Lucia Building Code is in the throes of being adopted. In the interim however, nothing should preclude any agency of Gov’t responsible for development control, public safety or emergency management, from referencing or adopting the Revised Saint Lucia Building Code or any other building code or relevant guideline.

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