Event Held for Latest Honorary Member – Mr. Richard C. Gill

We marked the election of our latest Honorary Member, Mr. Richard C. Gill with an event held on 26th April, 2024 at the Marriott Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church. This was in recognition of his outstanding contribution to urban and spatial planning in the island.

Richard C. Gill receiving his 2024 Honorary Membership of the BTPS award

President of the BTPS, Mrs. Yolanda Alleyne, welcomed the approximately fifty specially invited guests to the outer courtyard meeting space and after some kind introductory words, introduced Senior Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr William Duguid, who gave thorough overview of planning in Barbados and its importance to our orderly development. Minister Duguid skillfully weaved threads of Mr. Gill’s career and contributions into context of planning in Barbados over the years, and thanked Mr. Gill for his outstanding contributions to town planning in Barbados.

After the Minister presented Mr. Gill with his award, Mr. Gill was invited to speak. His historic perspective through participating in key land develop changes before the island’s independence, through the introduction of development control and physical development planning to Barbados was intriguing. He reminisced about memorable experiences over his career, including his public sector experiences on housing areas, highways and historic towns, drawing with a spring bow pen, hanging out of an airplane taking aerial photos, and many interesting projects such as Royal Westmoreland, Sandy Lane, Apes Hill, ABC Highway and Warrens Industrial Park to name a few. View “thank you” speech here.

A generous contribution was made by Mr. Lionel Nurse, former Chief Town Planner and also an Honorary Member of the BTPS, who graciously verified Richard’s outstanding professional character and his contributions with interesting stories and memories of their time working together. See speech text here.

Acting Deputy Director of Planning and Development, Mr. Rudy Headley, then gave a touching account of how Richard had helped him immensely over the years by recommending Newcastle upon Tyne as the right university to complete his Masters degree, having attended himself many years prior. Richard ensured that longtime friends in Newcastle welcomed Rudy and made sure that he settled in and was not alone. A similar experience happened again when Rudy worked in Bermuda, where Richard was able to offer guidance and contacts to help settle in quickly. Rudy generously thanked Richard for being a great friend, a kind mentor and a man with immense professional integrity.

Finally, Richard’s son Andy said a few heart-felt words of congratulations on receiving the Honorary Membership award, and also on his formal retirement from his namesake company, Richard Gill Associates, and professional life after 56 years. Several employees, past and present, were at the gathering and we able to share in the gratitude expressed by Andy for the years of mentorship, kind leadership and generosity towards everyone. See text of speech here.

The event was also attended by other Society members, senior staff of the Planning & Development Department, family members and close friends, other development-related professionals and several clients and other working colleagues. By unanimous consent, the event was highly enjoyed and even considered overdue by some for such a true stalwart and pioneer of planning in Barbados.

2022 Symposium:- De-Carbonising Barbados: Impacts for Physical Planning, Green Transport and Mobility

World Town Planning Day is our major outreach event of the year. It will also be the first BTPS in-person event since before lockdown and will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott on Tuesday 8th November 2022, starting at 9.00 am. This will be a “FREE, BY INVITATION ONLY” event and all BTPS Members are invited.

The theme of the Symposium is “De-carbonising Barbados: Impacts for Physical Planning, Green Transport and Mobility”. We have arranged a number of interesting speakers and the Opening Address will be delivered by Senior Minister Dr the Hon William F Duguid JP MP. A copy of the programme is attached.  BTPS Agenda WTPD 2022

Space is limited and we want to accommodate as many stakeholders as possible. It would therefore be a great help if all BTPS Members who want to attend could register as quickly as possible and by Friday 28th October at the latest to ensure that you get a place. Please use the Google forms link below to register. This will help us to see how many places we have available for guests.

Presentations have been uploaded here:

Caribbean Urban Forum 2022 Concludes Successfully

The 2022 Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF) Conference in Barbados was held from 15th-17th June, 2022 as a hybrid of physical and online meetings. This year’s theme was Beyond COVID: Recovery – Renewable – Resilience.

Final CUF 22 AGENDA -17June2022_updated

We have created a YouTube Channel with some of the meetings and presentations from the conference:



From CUF2022: Toppin-Allahar’s Opening Statement (Panel 4) – The Changing Nature of Planning Practice in the Public Service

Panel 4 –The Changing Nature of Planning Practice in the Public Service

Planning practice in the public service is of course underpinned and guided by the legal and institutional framework for the regulation of the development of land.

Planning law in Barbados has recently been transformed by the repeal and replacement of the Town and Country Planning Act, enacted in the 1960s, by the Planning and Development Act 2019. The new Act makes radical changes to the administrative system for physical planning and development control as well as modernizing the philosophical approach to planning.

To begin with, mention should be made of the open process by which the new legislation was arrived at and adopted. This began with a PUBLIC CONSULTATION PROCESS kicked off by the PM on 16th July 2018 – within weeks of the change in government. The initial discussions (which were carried live on the GIS website and followed by a national and international audience) were followed by a GREEN PAPER which was published for further public comment. The Bill was laid in the house in December 2018, within 6 months of the original discussions, and enacted in January 2019. When it was subsequently decided to amend the Act to transform the TCPDO into a ONE-STOP-SHOP for planning and building approval, a further round of STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATIONS was held in 2019 and the necessary amendments were passed in March 2020. Hence, it can be said that there has been general buy-in by stakeholders – including relevant professionals and developers. It should be noted that the BTPS led all the public consultation exercises involved in the development of the new legislation.

The purposes of the Act speak to –

  • the facilitation of land development
  • the attainment of appropriate standards
  • efficiency and accountability on the part of regulatory authorities
  • public participation in decision-making and
  • effective access to redress and remedies for persons aggrieved.

The new administrative system it is firmly based on principles of transparency, collegial decision-making and public participation, all of which are designed to raise the veil on decision-making that characterized the old system and eliminate the opportunities for bias and corruption in development control. The element of collegial decision-making is shared by the OECS COUNTRIES, but the measures for ensuring transparency and public participation are new.

To give Barbados credit where it is due, this is the only country in the region which has substantially complied with its statutory obligations vis-à-vis land use planning under the old legislation. However that process was very outdated and not reflective of modern planning practice. Hence, the system of development planning has been modernized and made more participatory and the legal status of the development plan enhanced. Express provision has been made for the adoption of supplementary planning policies. This is intended to eliminate reliance on “desk-drawer policies” which are the bêtes noir of planning practice in the Caribbean.

As regards development control, with the exception of applications referred to the Minister, all major decisions will be made by a multi-disciplinary public-private sector Board. Only applications of national strategic importance will be referred to the Minister. All applications will be processed by the professional staff of the Planning and Development Department, who will also decide minor applications. Strict deadlines for the processing of applications have been set. The system is premised on the principle of facilitation of land development (getting past “No”/getting to “Yes”). The Act expressly states that decisions must be guided by a presumption in favour of granting planning permission – in cases where applications can be approved if modified, a entirely new form of decision “provisional refusal” will issue, which only becomes refusal if the plans are not modified.

The Department will function as a “One Stop Shop” for building as well as planning control, but most building plans reaching the Department will have been certified by registered professionals who will assume general responsibility to ensuring conformity to building codes and standards. This element of the legislation builds on an aspect of the new legislation (PADL) adopted in TRINIDAD & TOBAGO a few years ago (2014), but not yet fully proclaimed.

Provisions for the protection of the natural and built environment have been greatly strengthened. This aspect could be of great significance as the situation with environmental law in Barbados is in need of comprehensive review and improvement. Environmental management is the subject of various pieces of unrelated legislation administered by several different agencies. We have not yet achieve the union of institutional responsibility for physical planning and environmental management that was achieved by JAMAICA some two decades ago and has just been effected in SURINAME, which is about to embark on the development of a new Spatial Planning Law.

A new and transparent system for the hearing of appeals against the merits of administrative decisions by an APPEALS TRIBUNAL has also been introduced. The system has been depoliticized, regularized and opened up to public scrutiny. The right of recourse to the courts of law to challenge the legality of regulatory decisions is unaffected.

The potential benefits of the new legislation have not been fully realized to date because the required institutional strengthening of the Planning and Development Department has not been given the same urgency as was given to the enactment of the legislation. Setting aside the requirements for the start up of the “One Stop Shop” for the time being (as that part of the Act has not been proclaimed) there are other capacities that must be built up as soon as possible – for example: establishment of an Environmental Service Unit in the Department, which is critical to the new EIA process provided for in the Act and EIA Regulations. The efficiency of the system for decision-making provided for in the new Act depends as much on having adequate and appropriate staff in the Department as on a radical change in the institutional culture of the Department.

CTA 16/06/2022

Caribbean Urban Forum – Call to Papers Submission Extension is March 28th, 2022

We have extended the deadline for the Call for Papers for Caribbean Urban Forum 2022. The new deadline for submission is March 28th, 2022. Abstracts submitted by this date will receive feedback by April 12th, 2022.

Barbados will be hosting the 2022 Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF) Conference and it will be held from 15th-17th June, 2022 as a hybrid of physical and online meetings. This year’s theme is Beyond COVID: Recovery – Renewable – Resilience.

We will provide updates on our various platforms regarding bookings and participation. View and follow our Facebook page here: BTPS Facebook Page

Also, the Call for Papers for Caribbean Urban Forum 2022 is out. Click here to download latest: CUF 2022 – Call for Papers Final – Booklet Updated 2022-03-08

Caribbean Urban Forum is the premium Conference on urban and land planning in the Caribbean held annually since 2011. It brings together planners, academics, urban and land managers, high level decision makers and other allied professionals for knowledge dissemination, capacity building and policy dialogue.



Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF) Conference 2022 in Barbados!

Exciting news!  Barbados will be hosting the 2022 Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF) Conference and it will be held from 15th-17th June, 2022 as a hybrid of physical and online meetings. This year’s theme is Beyond COVID: Recovery – Renewable – Resilience.

Go to the CUF 2022 Website to REGISTER NOW!

We will provide updates on our various platforms regarding bookings and participation.  View and follow our Facebook page here: BTPS Facebook Page

Also, the Call for Papers for Caribbean Urban Forum 2022 is out. Click here to download latest:  CUF 2022 – Call for Papers Final – Booklet Updated 2022-03-08

Caribbean Urban Forum is the premium Conference on urban and land planning in the Caribbean held annually since 2011. It brings together planners, academics, urban and land managers, high level decision makers and other allied professionals for knowledge dissemination, capacity building and policy dialogue.



Former Chief Town Planner Lionel Nurse publishes book on physical planning entitled “Fifty Years of Physical Planning in Barbados: 1968-2018”

This book covers most of the major aspects of physical planning in Barbados and includes examples of court decisions which the author has subjected to rigorous analysis, highlighting inconsistencies and areas of concern. He deals with the issue of Environmental Impact Assessments, the Planning Act, the evolution of the planning system in Barbados and development plans for the island, development control, planning regulations, conservation, land acquisition, public participation, and the role of the law courts in making planning decisions.

Available locally at the UWI bookstore and the Cloister bookstore.




2020 Symposium: Bridgetown Revitalisation

The Barbados Town Planning Society held its World Town Planning Day 2020 Symposium Lunchtime Webinar on 6th November, 2020 (recording at bottom of page).


Description: Bridgetown has experienced a slow exodus of commercial activity over the past decade that has reduced its significance as a capital city. This webinar will explore ideas of how to revitalise Bridgetown as a vibrant multi-functional centre which is even more necessary for restoring its significance post-pandemic.

You are invited to watch the symposium via the below link:


Date Held: 6th November 2020
Time: 12:00 noon – 1:30pm
Format: Panel Discussion
Platform: Zoom
Registration fee: FREE


  • Dr. Annalee C. Babb – CEO of Knowledge Consultants Inc. and Founding CEO of Invest Barbados.
  • Ms. Georgina Callender – Innovation Consultant, Founder and Creative Director of G Innovative.
  • Mr. Geoffrey Ramsey – Planning and Design Consultant for the Synagogue Historic District and Managing Director, EPG Caribbean
  • Mr. John Williams – CEO of Cave Shepherd and Chairman of Invest Barbados.

50th Anniversary Celebrations: Honorary Members Recognised for Outstanding Contributions

We marked our 50th Anniversary (1968 – 2018) with the election of three Honorary Members.  This is in recognition of their outstanding contributions to town planning in the island, and the three honorees are as follows:

  • former Chief Town Planner Luther Bourne;
  • former Chief Town Planner Lionel Nurse; and
  • specialist planning and environmental lawyer Christine Toppin-Allahar.

Left to right: Christine Toppin-Allahar, Lionel Nurse and Luther Bourne

The presentations to the honorees were made by Hon Marsha Caddle MP, Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, who thanked them for their outstanding contributions to town planning in Barbados at a reception event held at the Radisson Hotel on 6th July, 2019.

The Minister went on to say that this is an important time for town planning in Barbados.  The Planning and Development Act 2019 is a major step forward and gives us the framework for a modern town planning system that matches the needs of Barbados in the twenty first century.  However, more work needs to be done before that Act can be proclaimed and implemented.  Minister Caddle said these changes involve challenges for both public servants and for the private sector but it would be worth the effort in that it will give us a system that facilitates the development and investment that the country needs.

BTPS – our history and our work today

The Society (originally called the Barbados Town & Country Planning Society) was founded in 1968 at a meeting convened by the late Leonard St Hill.  We are celebrating completion of our first 50 years.  The principle objective of the original rules was “the promotion of the study of land use planning and the provision of a forum for the development of informed public opinion on all planning matters for the improvement of the community as a whole”.  This broad aim has been central to the Society’s work for 50 years.

The Society has always been outward looking.  It includes professional planners from both the public and private sectors and since 1972 has welcomed people from related professions or with an interest in planning to join as Associate Members.

BTPS has always had an international perspective.  In 1970 Richard Gill (now Past President of BTPS) was one of the people who drafted a constitution for the Commonwealth Association of Planners.  We have continued our involvement with that body ever since.

BTPS is also active in the Caribbean Planners Association.  Our President, Dr Yolanda Alleyne, is Vice President of CPA and is working with colleagues to achieve the accreditation of planning schools in the region and on accreditation standards for planners.  Locally, this will translate into a proposed Planning Profession Bill which will set standards of professional competence, a code of ethics and requirements for continuing professional development.

In 2014 we hosted the Caribbean Urban Forum – an annual conference for planners, related professionals and academics from across the Caribbean (not just anglophone).  This was a very successful event and we expect to be asked to organize the event again soon.

In Barbados we continue our work to promote an understanding of planning in the wider community, to promote planning as a profession (particularly as a career for young people), to encourage best practice and to discuss planning issues that have major consequences for the future of the island.  A major example was our 2015 Symposium on Modernization and Transparency in Planning which we followed up with a Prospectus recommending improvements to the planning system in Barbados.  In recent years we have also held seminars (some with related study visits) on:

  • Updating the Physical Development Plan
  • Improving the nation’s health and wellness – planning and health
  • Water resource management
  • Ridge to reef – planning and climate change
  • Developing within the UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Renewable energy

BTPS also assisted the Prime Minister’s Office in organizing and delivering the stakeholder events that started off the process for reform of the town planning legislation in the island.

Planning is a small profession in Barbados and BTPS is a small organization.  However, we like to think we make a contribution beyond our size.

The Three Honorees

To mark our 50th Anniversary BTPS decided to invite three individuals to join as Honorary Members.  Our rules allow us to do this where someone has made an outstanding contribution.  This is the first time we have done this and we are honouring three outstanding people.

Luther Bourne

Luther was educated at St Andrews Church Boys School, the Alleyne School and Harrison College.  His first degree was in Economics, History and French at London University.  He has an MA in International Relations (Johns Hopkins) and Diploma in Town Planning (Newcastle) and qualified as a chartered town planner (Royal Town Planning Institute).

Luther taught in St Kitts and worked for the Federation of the West Indies before joining the TCDPO as a planning assistant in 1964 and working with the UN team on the first Physical Development Plan.  Luther returned to the office after completing his postgraduate training and was appointed head of the department in 1970.  He was the first Barbadian Chief Town Planner and held the role for 14 years – developing the organization over that period as well as overseeing growth and transformation across the island.  Luther then became an acting Permanent Secretary in 1984 and Cabinet Secretary in 1990.  From 1992 until 1996 he was a United Nations consultant on planning.

Lionel Nurse CBE

Lionel was educated at Combermere and studied Geography and History at UWI.  He has an MA in Geography from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, an MPhil in Urban Design and Regional Planning (Edinburgh), and also studied at the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and the University of Wales (Certificate in Protected Landscapes Planning).  Lionel qualified as a chartered town planner (Royal Town Planning Institute).

Lionel started as a trainee in TCDPO in 1976 and worked in different roles before becoming Chief Town Planner in 1984, holding that post until 1998.  He was a Permanent Secretary from 1998 until 2014.  As Chief Town Planner he worked on two updates of the Physical Development Plan, introduction of special control for Harrison’s Cave, introduction of water conservation measures, the Adams Barrow Cummings land use study, the first steps towards computerization in the 1980s, the 1987 Bridgetown Physical Development Plan, development of Warrens as a strategic sub-centre, and the introduction of Environmental Impact Assessments.  From 1991 to 1994 Lionel served on UNCHS (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements).  More recently, he worked as part of the consultancy team on the draft amendment to the Physical Development Plan 2017.

Christine Toppin-Allahar

Christine was educated at Queens College, winning the Barbados Additional Scholarship for Girls in 1967.  She has a BA in Geography and Economics from UWI (Mona), an MA in Geography and Planning (Toronto), a Certificate in Integrated Surveys for Natural Resource Development (ITC, Enschede, Netherlands), LLB (UWI Cave Hill), Legal Education Certificate (Hugh Wooding Law School), and a Certificate in Legal Drafting from the International Legislative Drafting Institute, Tulane Law School, New Orleans.

Christine worked in the Town & Country Planning Division, Trinidad and Tobago (1972-1980) and as a Housing Planner in the Ministry of Housing, Lands & Environment in Barbados (1980-82).  As an attorney-at-law she has worked for the Attorney General’s Department in Trinidad & Tobago and in private practice.  As a specialist in planning, environmental and land law she has advised private clients, Governments and international agencies throughout the Caribbean and further afield as well as teaching and writing on these subjects.  As a legislative drafter she has prepared environmental, planning and coastal zone legislation in Caribbean countries including Guyana, Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda, and St Kitts & Nevis.  Notably, she was responsible for drafting the new Barbados Planning and Development Act 2019.


New Barbados Planning Act Approved in 2019

When Prime Minister Mia Mottley was elected in May 2018 one of her first actions was to start a programme of radical planning reform in Barbados. The existing legislation was in its essence over 50 years old and pre-dated Independence. It operated in a closed and opaque manner and was seen as being at risk of corruption as well as being tortuously slow. The new Prime Minister stated that planning reform was “mission critical” as part of her overall programme to address the country’s severe economic problems and remove barriers to progress.

The Planning and Development Act 2019 aims to provide a system that is open, transparent, accountable, inclusive and efficient – fit for purpose in the context of a Small Island Developing State in the twenty first century. The legislation provides for a new Planning and Development Board that will consider complex applications while the majority will be delegated to the Chief Town Planner. A new Appeals Tribunal is also being established.
Innovative elements include a “provisional refusal” to allow for extra negotiation and “approval in principle” at the concept stage (replacing the traditional outline consent which is planning permission in law). The system is being opened up, with much more opportunity for public participation and public access to information. The new Act was passed by both Houses of Parliament in January 2019.

Barbados Town Planning Society (BTPS) has long argued the case for reform of the system and back in 2014 held a Symposium on Modernisation and Transparency in Planning. This was followed by publication of our Prospectus for Change in 2015 which set out detailed recommendations for reform.

Following the May 2018 General Election, BTPS worked with Government to deliver two stakeholder events in July 2018. The Prime Minister attended and spoke at both, showing how important she regards this reform. Both events were live-streamed. The Prime Minister then appointed a consultancy team consisting of three BTPS members and a specialist planning and environmental lawyer to deliver the new legislation. That team then prepared a Green Paper for consultation and BTPS submitted a comprehensive response. The consultancy team went on to draft a White Paper and produce a Bill for consideration by Parliament. The team also helped Minister Marsha Caddle MP (responsible for Economic Affairs and Investment) present the proposals at a final stakeholder review and on a radio call-in programme.

Remarkable progress has been made in a six month period. However, the work is not finished yet. The next stage is the drafting of a new Development Order, a new Use Classes Order and new Regulations to support the Planning and Development Act. There is also a need for a major training and culture change programme to support implementation of the new legislation. Ultimately, it is achieving this change in working practices and attitudes that will be essential to making a success of the new system.

Please see Planning and Development Bill 2018 – A Brief – White Paper which provides insight into the new Act.

Please note that as of the date of this post, the new Act is still to be proclaimed.