New market stalls violate rules on historical sites
-planning official By Nigel Williams
Stabroek News
July 17, 2004

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This recently constructed double-decker storage bond on the northern side of the Stabroek Market is said to be blocking ventilation. (Jules Gibson photo)

The double-decker stalls in the Stabroek Market are against the regulations governing the preservation of historical buildings, an official with The National Trust and the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) says.

Meanwhile, a storage bond which was built months ago outside the market has also come under scrutiny as it has changed the character of the exterior of that part of the historic Dutch-style market.

The external structure with the logo, Isaac's Beverage Wholesale Distributor, is situated on the northern side of the market behind a city constabulary outpost.

The structure is not only illegal, according to the laws regarding the preservation of historical sites, but is blocking ventilation, the official said. The two-storey structure is currently in the way of a large portion of the northern vents at the market and many vendors are upset about it.

Several persons had already vented their disapproval at the council's decision to authorise the construction of double-decker stalls. But City Hall continues to back the plan saying that it will garner more revenue and would help beautify the market.

The official associated with the two agencies disagrees, saying the structures are in direct contravention of the laws regarding the preservation of historical sites. He said both the Ministry of Housing - under which the CHPA comes - and the National Trust had the powers to order work to stop and also to dismantle the stalls. However, the official said this is easier said than done since the decision seemed to have been made already and it would be difficult for them to make inroads now.

The official said the agencies would soon review City Hall's project and he contended that there was a clear breach in the procedures.

He said what was more alarming was the external structure.

"There are certain procedures you have to follow when dealing with buildings that are historical sites. The city council cannot, on its own, do anything just like that without consulting the relevant authorities."

Stabroek News was told that no authority was given by the National Trust or the Central Housing and Planning Authority for the project which has already seen the construction of four stalls in the market and the one outside.

The housing official said the structures were upsetting to the people of Georgetown and he urged the public to condemn City Hall's actions.

"Some people are using the economic conditions in the country to violate established laws, but millions of dollars are being spent on these very structures in an effort to preserve their historical significance," the official said.

Neither the Clerk of Markets, Schulder Griffith, nor the Deputy Mayor, Robert Williams, could be reached for comment about the external building.

During recent interviews with this newspaper several vendors had raised objections about the construction, citing a range of issues including health and safety.

But Griffith and Williams said they supported the venture.

A prominent engineer had also questioned whether the Mayor and City Council was expertly advised on the project.

According to the engineer, a competent person should have evaluated the foundation to determine its adequacy to support such stalls.