Browne offers land swap to constituents amid Booby Alley relocations

Prime Minister Gaston Browne addressing the custodians of new homes in the Villa community, whilst standing in front of one of 10 edifices handed over to Booby Alley residents on Monday. (photo by Kadeem Joseph)
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By Kadeem Joseph

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne is proposing a land swap for people with vacant parcels of land in St John’s City West constituency which would allow the government to build more temporary homes as part of the Booby Alley redevelopment programme.

Speaking during the brief ceremony to hand over 10 homes for the provisional relocation of residents from the area, flagged to be redeveloped to Pestaina Street in Villa, Browne said a major limitation to the efforts is insufficient land space for temporary housing.

“I want to appeal to those in the constituency who have small building plots to make them available, and you know what we will do? We will swap them on a square footage basis,” he said.

(photos by Kadeem Joseph)

In explaining the concept, he added that an individual swapping land in the area will be entitled to the same sized parcel in another area where the government owns parcels.

“You don’t want a better deal than that. So, whereas your land in this area is probably worth $7 to $8 per square foot, you potentially could get the equivalent in land that may be worth $15 per square foot,” he explained.

The prime minister said the government has material to construct more homes but they remain in containers due to the unavailability of land space.

To date, about 139 residents have been relocated from Booby Alley as the government continues to make arrangements for the relocation of those who remain.

The unfurnished homes are three-bedroom structures, with a bathroom, laundry room, kitchen and living room.

Camella Phillip, one of the residents who was on hand to receive her keys to a new home, told Observer she is happy for the new development, but expressed concerns about what will happen with the house she will leave behind.

She explained that she was notified of the handover ceremony on Sunday, which was not only Mother’s Day, but also her birthday, a call she said her family viewed as a gift.

“I am not cursing; I am thankful. But in the meantime, if I can get my house, it’s okay with me,” she explained.

Phillip is hoping that she will be able to have the house relocated to an area of her choosing.

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