Physical planning is undertaken in Barbados for the orderly and progressive development of land and for the preservation and improvement of core assets, infrastructure and related amenities. Physical Planning as a government function is based on the Planning and Development Act 2019 currently under review. This Act provides for the preparation of development plans relating to the whole island or to parts of the island.

What is the Purpose of the PDP?

  • Foster the economic, environmental, physical and social well-being of the residents of Barbados;
  • Address the critical impacts of climate change on Barbados as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) through policies and strategies that enable the people of Barbados to thrive and remain resilient under changing climatic conditions;
  • Establish a vision to guide the future form of development with respect to land use, settlement patterns, food production, infrastructure and environmental management;
  • Guide the future form of development on the island and inform the public, business and government sectors as to the nature, scope and location of both development and protection areas for core assets; and
  • Provide a clear and accessible investment framework for private and public works and actions which impact the social, economic and environmental health of the nation.

Structure of Plan

Section 1: Introduction
Explains the imperatives behind it – the key issues facing Barbados today that have developed or gained prominence since the last PDP and must be addressed in the amended document. This section also identifies new concepts that will be introduced in the PDP Amendment and are essential to understanding the policies that follow.

Section 2: Strategic Policies
Key island-wide policies organised into key directions related to promoting sustainable development, protecting core assets, advancing mobility and accessibility, greening the economy and planning for national infrastructure.

Section 3: Land Use and Built Form Policies
Sets out policies directly related to the land use designations shown on Map 13: Land Use Plan.

Section 4: Barbados System of Parks and Open Spaces
Sets out the location of major open spaces and associated management strategies. Policies related to the National Park Plan, as the anchor to the open space system, are included in this section.

Section 5: Community Plans
Sets out detailed strategies and land use policies for 11 communities across the island: Bridgetown, Speightstown, Holetown, Oistins, Six Cross Roads, Warrens, Wildey, St. David’s to Six Cross Roads, Belleplaine, Bathsheba and Boscobelle.

Section 6: Implementation
Implementation presents provisions regarding the planning approval process, monitoring and updating the plan, related plans and initiatives, public consultation and interpretation.

Vision and Principles

The Physical Development Plan seeks to achieve a vision for Barbados over the next 20 years as:

  • A nation of healthy, safe, distinct and age- and gender-responsive communities sharing a common economic base and community aspiration;
  • A nation in which resilient, sustainable economic and physical growth are balanced with conservation and restoration of irreplaceable resources, rural working landscapes, cultural heritage and natural heritage;
  • A nation which fosters a green economy focused on strategies to enhance resource efficiency and economic growth, in particular in the sectors of agriculture, fisheries, housing, transportation and tourism
  • ;A nation characterized by increasing social equity enabling meaningful participation in social and economic activities for all;
  • A nation which is resilient and prepared for the impacts of climate change.
  • Provide a clear and accessible investment framework for private and public works and actions which impact the social, economic and environmental health of the nation.

The following principles underlie the settlement structure and policies which will guide development in the future:

  • The efficient use of land, resources and finances of the nation.
  • The adoption of adaptive planning approaches in all aspects of national and sectoral planning for the consideration of climate variability and climate change impacts.
  • The promotion of social equity, health and safety for all residents.
  • The conservation, protection and restoration of irreplaceable core assets and man-made resources.
  • A settlement structure that maintains and creates safe, vibrant places for people to live, work and play.
  • The management of growth so that it occurs in a safe, logical and orderly fashion ensuring protection of core assets, reduction of environmental risks and ecological scarcities, promotion of sustainable development and efficiency in delivery of infrastructure.

Basis of the Plan

The policies contained in the Physical Development Plan, 2003 were reviewed, refined and augmented during the 2016 PDP Amendment process. This process involved a detailed assessment of the effectiveness of the existing policies, consideration of critical new factors, initiatives and commitments, including the Greening the Economy Scoping Strategy, Habitat III New Urban Agenda, COP 21 climate change and adaptation agreement, UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription for Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison and the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative and an assessment of recent development and settlement patterns. This analysis was detailed in the following background reports:

  • Background Review Sectoral Reports (24)
  • White Paper: Key Considerations for the PDP Amendment
  • Recommended Priority Policies Memorandum
  • Development Studies, including Major Development Applications, Vacant Lands, Plot Coverage, assessment of the IRDP policies

The Plan Imperative

Barbados: An island of tremendous assets and increasing levels of vulnerability

The Opportunity

Barbados is a small island developing state (SIDS) with significant accomplishments, diverse and strong assets and a high level of vulnerability. Over the last 20 years, much has changed globally and locally – economically, environmentally and socially. An increase in GDP, personal wealth and greater access to goods have changed Barbados’ economic status from developing country to a recognized ‘developed’ nation by the UN’s Human Development Index. Today, these advancements have resulted in more choice for citizens, but also significant changes to the pattern, density and nature of development on the island.

Barbados Today

In 2016, Barbados celebrates the 50th anniversary of independence, marking one of many important and defining milestones of the nation and its people. The foundational influence of the island’s early governance and constitution, innovation in the sugar and rum industry, high levels of literacy, and more recently the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation recognizing the value of Historic Bridgetown and it Garrison are a mere sampling of significant national accomplishments. The existence of the current Physical Development Plan and National Park Plan are also notable signs of leadership in planning, given Barbados’ role as the only nation in the region with a comprehensive island-wide national land use plan.

Yet as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) and one in which over 25% of the population and much of the critical infrastructure lie within an identified key risk zone within 2 km of the coast line/flood plain, the island remains vulnerable to economic and environmental conditions. In an island of scarcity, wise use of food, water and land resources will be critical, their conservation and the protection of their health and viability will be key. Fundamental shifts in the agriculture and food production sectors have had an impact. Moving away from more traditional food production practices, Barbados has been increasingly reliant on food imports; in 2014, over BBD 600 million was spent on food imports. Further, food as a percentage of total imports has been on a concerning upward trajectory. Between 2000 and 2011, it increased from 15% to 25% of total imports. The availability of clean, potable water (a utilization rate of 98%) is compromised by huge inefficiencies in the delivery system, wherein 62% of distributed water is not accounted for. Finally, lifestyles and patterns of development have been a significant contributor to the increasing rate of chronic non-communicable disease resulting in high rates of diabetes (17%), overweight (37%) and obesity (29%) within the population.

Critical Challenges

  • The development and growth patterns over the last two decades are not sustainable over the long term
  • Approved development has significantly impacted agricultural and water resources and health of natural ecosystems
  • New growth at the fringe has happened at the expense of historic community cores and existing settlements
  • There is a growing infrastructure deficit
  • Climate change places a binding constraint on future development

Planning for the island’s needs over the next 20 years

How much land is needed to accommodate growth over the next 20 years?

Technically, from a supply perspective, close to none is required. Population growth over the next 20 years is projected to be just over 5,500 people or 2% growth. After that population is expected to decline. It is estimated that there are over 20,000 vacant lots in Barbados, and a 2007 study of 63 subdivisions found that 34% of lots were vacant. There is also a rising level of vacancy of existing buildings from 7% of the building stock in 2000 to 12% of the building stock in 2012. Between 2000 and 2015, the subdivision applications that were approved would amount to the creation of over 23,000 new lots.

We know that the population on the island is ageing and will have a different demographic in the future. Today, 11% of Barbadians are aged 65+, this will increase to 25% by 2050. Yet despite the stagnating population and changing demographic profile the unit mix has been slow to change. Furthermore, growth often occurs in places that are not planned for growth.

Opportunity to Define a New Paradigm

This PDP is a critical opportunity to change the traditional growth paradigm and introduce transformational and foundational policy directions that can guide more sustainable investment, land use and infrastructure decisions in Barbados.

Introducing transformational and foundational change

  • Addressing the urgency of climate change
  • Reframing planning for steady state growth
  • Redefining the island’s urban structure
  • Addressing Scarcity and Irreplaceable Resources
  • From car-centric transportation to multi-modal mobility
  • Celebrating heritage and the stories of Barbados
  • Integrating the island’s eco-systems

Moving toward the Green Economy

  • Moving toward food self-sufficiency and a viable agriculture sector
  • Diversifying the housing offering to meet the future demographic
  • Optimizing existing infrastructure and investing in sustainable infrastructure
  • Strengthening existing communities
  • Greening the tourism offering – beyond sun, sand and sea
  • Moving forward implementation of the National Park
  • Promoting sustainable resource management