AN OPEN LETTER TO:
Development Control Authority
Graeham Louisy Administrative Building
It was brought to the attention of the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) that plans are being advanced to demolish the Castries Prison, formerly the Royal Gaol. Upon investigation, we discovered that demolition works have commenced on the periphery of the structure but we are unable to verify that these works are approved by the Development Control Authority (DCA). If it is indeed the case, we call on the DCA to issue a stop order to all works on the site until the required applications are submitted, considered and approved.
The Castries Prison is perhaps the oldest structure in Castries and therefore of historic significance. It tells an important, albeit dark side of our history, but one we should not forget, for to do so will cause us to perpetuate the societal ills its function attempted to address.
We understand that the proposed demolition is part of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Halls of Justice project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). We laud the Government of Saint Lucia, OECS Supreme Court and the Caribbean Development Bank for this important initiative. In so doing, we urge adherence to the laws that the Courts exist to uphold. To this end, and in the context of government’s stated commitment to transparency, we urge the DCA to:
- stop any further works on the Castries Prison site, including the demolition of the Castries Prison until the required applications are submitted, considered and approved;
- take account of the historic significance and structural integrity of the Castries Prison when considering any application to demolish the structure;
- require the applicant to produce indicative plans for the redevelopment of the site to enable meaningful consideration to integrating the prison building and adjacent prisoner burial grounds into the planned project. The building served an important function in the national justice system and opportunities to link this history with the future of the justice system should factor into the DCA’s decision on this matter; and
- engage heritage conservation organisations in discussions prior to making a decision on any application it may receive to demolish and redevelop the Castries Prison.
We urge the Authority to take these matters into consideration in its deliberations.
Saint Lucia National Trust
September 7, 2018.