21st April 2023, in an effort to restore relations with the Saint Lucia National Trust (the Trust), the Government of Saint Lucia (the Government) offers a public statement on the demolition of the former Royal Gaol without adequate consultation with the Trust.
From 7th to 8th September 2018 the former administration authorized the commencement of demolition operations upon the site of the former Royal Gaol on Bridge Street, Castries.
These were preparatory works for the construction of a New Police Headquarters and Criminal Court.
On 9th September 2018 the Trust was granted an injunction by the High Court restraining the Government from continuing these demolition operations.
After meetings, on 24th October 2018 a written undertaking outlining a consultative process between the Trust, the Development Control Authority and the Government was signed by representatives of the respective parties (the written undertaking).
The written undertaking specifically called for the Trust to be consulted at various stages of the project culminating in the Trust being consulted when the plans for the Police Headquarters and Criminal Court were finalized.
A consent order ending the High Court proceedings between the Trust and the Government was also approved on the same day.
The Trust thus agreed to end these court proceedings on the premise that the Government would faithfully abide by the provisions of the written undertaking. Subsequent to the letter, two meetings and a site walkthrough were held between representatives of the
Government and the Trust.
The Trust submitted recommendations on the future development of the Royal Gaol site in March 2019.
From 23rd to 24th May 2020 the former Royal Gaol was however demolished by
contractors duly authorized by the previous Government. This demolition occurred
despite the clear provisions of the written undertaking specifically restraining the
Government from resuming the demolition activities until specified milestones and
agreements had been reached.
The Government admits that the demolition contravened the clear terms of the
written undertaking. The Government unreservedly acknowledges to the Trust its
breach of the specific provisions of the written undertaking that mandated it to hold
further consultations prior to the demolition of the historic Royal Gaol.
The Trust commenced fresh proceedings against the Government in the High Court
in May 2021 seeking declarations that the latter had breached its express undertaking to consult with the former before completing its demolition of the Royal Gaol.
The Government has settled these fresh Court proceedings with the Trust and has committed to the development and implementation, within 2023, of measures that would prevent the future recurrence of such unfortunate events.
The Government unreservedly reaffirms its support to the Trust’s mandate of protecting
Saint Lucia’s natural and built patrimony.
SOURCE: Attorney General’s Office