Montserrat's Building Code Under Review After 23 Years

LITTLE BAY – Attention is being paid to the island’s building codes after 23 years of inactivity.

Chief Physical Planner Jerome Meade.

Chief Physical Planner Jerome Meade.

Last Friday, May 8, 2015, Government technicians across the service as well as representatives of private sector organisations, including the media and the Red Cross participated in a one-day workshop to discuss the building code.

According to Jerome Meade, Chief Physical Planner in the Physical Planning Unit the island’s building code has been in draft for 23 years. However, no progress was made until last year when steps were taken to have it reviewed by the Attorney General’s Chambers but they lacked the in house capacity to evaluate the regulation.

Dr Judith Harvey, an engineer working with a team of consultants is reviewing the draft as part of a million dollar Climate Change Adaptation project through the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Meade said he does not favour the one-size-fits all approach that is the general recommendation from the OECS, which has included Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia in the building code consultancy as they also needed assistance with updating their building codes.

The day workshop was to give local experts the opportunity to make inputs into the various segments of the plan and consider the recommendations put forth by the consultants.

Engineer Dr Judith Harvey is one of the consultants working on a four-island review of the building codes in the OECS.

Engineer Dr Judith Harvey is one of the consultants working on a four-island review of the building codes in the OECS.

Areas which were considered were: implementing a system of using check consultants rather than maintaining the status quo of a government only domain; energy efficiency; air conditioning requirements; wind loads, earthquake loads and mitigating climate change through the efficient use of structural materials.

The next step is for the consultants to submit their recommendations by May 19 for further review, then finalised by the end of June.

The planning official said he did not forsee the draft being ready for passing into law this year but is very hopeful it will be done early in 2015.

Currently all plans must be approved by the Physical Planning Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Trade, Housing and the Environment.

Participants at the building code review workshop.

Participants at the building code review workshop.

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