Great Bay, Sint Maarten –
On Wednesday, January 18th 2023, Minister of Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure, the Honorable Egbert Doran, presented to Parliament the vision of the ministry as it pertains to spatial planning and a policy for the island of Sint Maarten.
The Spatial Development Strategy, while not a binding policy, envisions our national spatial planning until 2030 and provides guidelines on how to carry out this vision. It aims for sustainable spatial development, meaning that spatial development should meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, a balance should be sought the between economic, social, and environmental domain when developing and preserving our scarce space. The strategy also serves as a framework for the establishment of legislation and area specific policies for the built and natural environment such as zoning plans, updated Sint Maarten building code, Nature policy, Country Sewage master plan etc.
While pleased with the strategy, Minister Doran stressed the importance of finalizing this process for the protection of Sint Maarten. “It is vital that now we put in place the policies that will be needed as we are the ones responsible today and our actions, or inactions, play a pivotal role in what our country will look like in years to come.”
Noteworthy points of the SDS included the promotion of the development of a niche market for (small) scale boutique or lifestyle hotels, upgrades to the existing road network to improve traffic flow and mobility for visitors, especially in congested and crowed areas by retrofitting infrastructure. Also included was the promotion of harnessing energy through rooftop solar panels and other sustainable means and the collection of housing data to establish a national housing policy that is aimed at the improvement of the housing market/stock so that it caters to all groups of society including the elderly, the differently-abled, first time home owners and those with lower incomes.
The spatial Development Strategy was compiled based on Spatial planning trend analyses of the past decades, Other governmental policies/programs, and all policies at VROMI related to land use. It also included the input from the public, as stakeholder via information obtained during the zoning plans town hall meetings and included the immediate and future plans of other ministries that may have an impact on the strategy. The strategy was compiled so that it aligns with National Development Vision of the Government of Sint Maarten and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.