Citizens Associations call for Moratorium on High Density Developments in Low Density Communities

It has become a nightmare in many areas of uptown Kingston. Many of our old single-family homes have been torn down, to be replaced with cold, ugly high-rise apartment blocks, squeezed into small spaces. And no. This is not just about upset, better-off citizens who are seeing their once quiet, green neighborhoods transformed almost overnight (anyway, they have a right to be upset). There are much deeper governance issues here.

This beautiful house, once an art gallery and former home of Burnett Webster, who first produced the plays of the great Una Marson back in the 1930s, was demolished last year in the Golden Triangle. And along with the old houses go their gardens and mature trees, to be replaced by concrete.

I have written about the “Golden Triangle” neighborhood before, and our incredibly vibrant Golden Triangle Neighbourhood Association (GTNA, which includes not only residents, but all who do business and work in the area). I have also written several times about the deterioration of the neighbourhood – great for the men in hard hats and the developers, less so for the trees, wide sidewalks, clean air and uncongested roads that make up the vision for our neighbourhood: a livable community.

Back in 2018, the GTNA expressed this vision and worked on plans with friends from Medellín, Colombia.

Poor old Vale Royal, windows boarded up. (My photo)

I also pointed to the terrible state that a historic building is falling into: Vale Royal. It’s a sad disgrace, nothing less. However, the Office of the Prime Minister, which is responsible for its upkeep, has more important things to deal with.

Our cultural heritage is tied up with our environmental heritage – and it is all connected to our quality of life, as urban dwellers. But there is strength in numbers. Several citizens associations and individuals (I would add my name and my husband’s to the list below) are demanding accountability, transparency and adherence to the rule of law in the matter of permits for high density housing developments (now, where have I heard this demand before? Well, Puerto Bueno comes to mind, among others). Please see their joint press release below.

Citizens Associations call for Moratorium on High Density Developments in Low Density Communities

January 26, 2022

The several citizens associations and individuals signed below, join in calling to account the Kingston & St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) for their failure to ensure a transparent process for granting permits for high density housing developments, and adherence to the relevant Laws and the 2017 Provisional Development Order (PDO).

As concerned, affected associations and individuals, we have made numerous submissions to NEPA and KSAMC, with only very rare acknowledgement and response and, until recently, very little action on these matters, which include:

  • lack of requisite notifications to communities, lack of public postings of prospective developments, and of community inclusion
  • breach of approval conditions &/or relevant Development Order or Town Country Planning Act.

We note that NEPA convened a Committee in 2019 to make recommendations on building height and density in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA). The recommendations of the Committee, which comprised five architects and six planners, have seemingly also been ignored. The recommendations included restricting high rises to highly commercialized areas and on major transportation routes. The Committee also recommended that:

 “A comprehensive Master Plan prepared for proposed new high density zones must be undertaken prior to rezoning”, and  “There is an urgent need to construct more affordable dwelling units which can be built at higher densities and lower heights (3 & 4 stories)…“

and that existing low density communities be “aggressively protected from further intrusion of higher density developments.” 

Against the background of inadequate planning and enforcement we welcome recent pronouncements by the Courts on the failings of NEPA and KSAMC to properly discharge their functions and responsibilities, and the Court rulings against lawless developers. We welcome the recent rulings in favour of citizens of communities whose enjoyment of their property and community has been upended. 

We take note that the KSAMC, in responding to the rulings and increasing public demand, has publicly acknowledged the deficiencies. We note its very recent application for injunction against a developer and its pronouncements on the need for regular inspection of building sites and reports from their inspectors, among other things. These are the most basic standards that the Municipal Corporation should long have been adhering to. We also note the Kingston Mayor’s call for an audit, and the Resolution by Minority members of the Corporation calling for greater transparency in the Building Committee and in the permitting process.

Another older house falls victim. (My photo)

We expect an early Government response to these actions, and add our voices in calling for:

  • An immediate moratorium on further approval of high rise, high density developments of over 3 storeys in height, and 75 habitable rooms per hectare (or over 30 habitable rooms per acre) in established, low density neighbourhoods;
  • A comprehensive audit and overhaul of the approval process
  • NEPA, NRCA and KSAMC must make available for easy online access by citizens, up-to-date records of all building applications, including outline planning permission, permit numbers of pending developments, results of applications (approved, denied or modified), stop orders, inspection reports etc.
  • The Government’s acceptance and implementation of the 2019 NEPA Committee’s recommendations on heights and densities in the KSAMA.
  • A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee to review the 2017 Provisional Development Order for the KMA, introduction of a Development Order Bill open to submissions from the public, and passage of the Bill into Law. 

We welcome the acceptance by the Parliamentary Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee of a November 2021 citizens’ request to present our concerns and further recommendations, and await word on when the Committee will accommodate our request.


  • Charlemont Drive Neighbourhood Watch and Citizen’s Association
  • Cunningham/Herb McKenley/Latham Ave Neighbourhood Association
  • Devon Square Citizens Association
  • Eastwood Park Gardens Citizens Association
  • Golden Triangle Neighbourhood Association
  • Hope Pastures Citizen Association
  • Pleasant Valley Citizens Association, Red Hills
  • Salisbury and Environs Group
  • South Liguanea Citizen Association
  • Jamaica Environment Trust

Concerned Individuals

  • Kent P. Gammon, Attorney-at-Law, Paddington Terrace, Kingston 6,
  • Carol Narcisse, Civil Society advocate, resident, Red Hills Community 
  • Honor Ford-Smith, Ph.D, Hope Road, Kingston 6, Associate Professor, Fac. of Environmental & Urban Change & Associate Director, Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean, York University
  • Peta Ann Baker, Ph.D., Social Development Specialist, Exec. Member of Strata Corp.
  • Fae A. Ellington, CD, Barbican, Kingston 6, Member of the Access to Information Tribunal and Chairman, National Integrity Action
  • Esther Figueroa, Gordon Town, St. Andrew
  • Carla Gullotta, ‘Stand Up for Jamaica’
  • Diana McCaulay, environmental activist
  • Professor Carolyn Cooper, Beverly Hills, Kingston 6.
  • Veronica Salter, Ph.D., Marley Close, Kingston 6
  • Jennifer Jones, Mona, Kingston 6
  • Bhavna Patel, Dewsbury Avenue, Kingston 6. 
  • Joan Grant Cummings, Cherry Gardens Citizens Association
  • Carol Narcisse, Civil Society Advocate, Red Hills, Kingston 19
  • Samere Tansley, Artist, Stony Hill, Kingston 9
  • Jeanette Campbell, Colliston Rd, Kingston 10
  • Anna Perkins, Ph.D., Public Theologian
  • Carol Lawes, Paddington Terrace, Kingston 6
  • Rachel Goffe, Ph.D., Assist. Professor, Dept. of Human Geography, University of Toronto Scarborough
  • Elaine Wint, Corporate Facilitator, Trafalgar Park, New Kingston
  • Marjan de Bruin, Ph.D, Stony Hill, Kingston 9
  • Joan King, Old Harbour
  • Dorothy Whyte, Dillsbury Ave, Kingston 6
  • Lisa Gordon, Maryland District, St. Andrew
  • Karen Thwaites, Durham Avenue Kgn 6
  • For further details, please contact:
Scenes of destruction abound. This was one of the older properties.

3 thoughts on “Citizens Associations call for Moratorium on High Density Developments in Low Density Communities

    1. Thank you. Our voices – letters, phone calls, submissions, pleas – have been ignored by the “powers that be” – people who are not doing their job properly.


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