Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on November 26 on the occasion of the opening of Coreas and Hazells’ Ace 2 and Coreas Pharmacy 2 at the now decommissioned E.T Joshua Airport, that a city cannot be built in five years.
He chose to address the issue of the proposed city at Arnos Vale in response to the opposition New Democratic Party’s (NDP) claim which was highlighted in its 2020 election campaign, that the proposed project was a failed one.
“And some people got sucked into that,” the Prime Minister said.
“The fact of the matter is this: to plan to build a city here is one that is going to take many, many years,” he continued.
“Otherwise, if you come off Casson Hill, what you will have is a ramshackle amalgamation of buildings, and the 200 acres we have here… If you want to build a city in one year, you can build it.
“I don’t want anybody to curse me after I am gone, to say I start a ramshackle city here. I build it out like a slum – no!” the PM asserted.
According to Dr. Gonsalves, there have been numerous offers submitted by investors to begin developing the area.
“They asked me, but I said that they first needed to have a plan,” Gonsalves explained.
There is a registered company called the Arnos Vale Development Company, set up to oversee the development of the Arnos Vale airport site.
However, Dr. Gonsalves said that it had not been activated in order not to incur administrative costs.
National Properties is the entity involved presently as the project is still in the development phase.
Gonsalves further explained that there were a number of other issues that needed to be dealt with before a modern city could be developed at Arnos Vale.
A major issue he raised was that of drainage – and with the proposal for the establishment of a housing development at Fenton, there is going to be more runoff in the Arnos Vale area.
Government had also been advised by an architectural firm to have one or two anchor projects to the new city, and that was why the decision had been made for the construction of the referral hospital, Dr. Gonsalves disclosed.
On the advice of a consultant, a site has now been selected and the design completed for the hospital, and plans are being made towards procuring a soft loan from the World Bank, to support the construction.
A revised plan incorporates the Arnos Vale Playing Field, as part of the proposed city.
In the meantime, work is ongoing to convert what was the terminal building at the now de-commissioned E.T. Joshua Airport, into a mall to be re-christened’ the Joshua Centre.