Ongoing development within the property
The terrestrial portion of this small property (2,034 ha) is comprised of 68% private land holdings. Some of these consist of small lots (e.g. 0.1 ha) on which family residences or holiday homes are located, and a few consist of large holdings of up to 100 hectares or more, with many more of intermediate size. Until fairly recently, the larger holdings had been run as agricultural estates (coconut, cocoa) and some agricultural activity continues. With the advent of tourism, and to a certain extent, inscription onto the World Heritage List, landowners have witnessed rapid rises in property prices. In many cases owners seek to capitalize on these changes by either selling to resort developers, or becoming developers themselves by parcelling out their land and selling individual lots, or by seeking partnerships with international investors.
This property was inscribed in part due to its aesthetic attributes; the combination of the Pitons against the backdrop of green tropical vegetation and a varying topography combined with a marine foreground is an attribute that is essential to the natural beauty of the property. The land use pressures to which the property is currently subjected, if not very effectively managed, risk compromising its superlative natural beauty to the point where its Outstanding Universal Value may be permanently lost.
Whereas at the time of inscription, there were three larger resorts (Jalousie Estate, Ladera Resort, and Stonefield Estate) with a total of approximately 175 units (villas and hotel rooms combined), at the time of the mission four additional resorts had received at least preliminary approvals (Jalousie Enclave, Hotel Chocolat, Malgre Toute Estate and Beau Estate) which would result in a total of approximately 350 additional units, half of which would be located within visually sensitive lands between the two pitons, which are the key features of this property.
The State Party reported that though there was cause for concern over the approvals process for the Mignucci development mentioned in Decision 33 COM 7B.30, it confirms that steps were taken to remedy the situation. The mission inspected this development, built on steeply sloping lands between the pitons, and noted that should this kind of development multiply in this area, it would be difficult to guarantee the visual integrity of the property and hence its Outstanding Universal Value. The mission also noted the presence of two very prominent telecommunications towers located on the summit of hills within the property and suggests that these be relocated in such a way as to minimize their visibility.
Given the small size of the property and sensitive nature of its values, including the natural aesthetic values that are in part the basis for its inscription, there is little tolerance possible for development impacts within the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN reiterate the need for decisive action by the State Party to immediately halt all ongoing development within the property until such a time that it can be demonstrated to the World Heritage Committee that the tools are in place to guarantee the protection of the viewscape from being disrupted by inappropriate development.
Inadequacy of development control regulations
There is good professional capacity in the land use planning unit of the Ministry for Physical Development and St Lucia has an established legal framework for land use planning.
However, despite recent property, and the tools guarantee protection of
efforts, the effectiveness of the land use policy framework for the
available in the decision-making process remain the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.
insufficient to This situation
resulted in an This gap was
environment where accusations of recognized shortly after inscription,
arbitrary decision-making could be made. and in an attempt to fill it, the State Party
commissioned, with its own resources, an its State of Conservation Report, the State the Cabinet in 2007, the Plan “fails to
Integrated Development Plan for the property. In Party notes that, though having been approved by satisfactorily address the requirements for the
sustainable development of development regulations are
the Pitons Management Area”.
Despite the admission that
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 70